Watch Jack Nicholson work himself up to do the axe scene in The Shining


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I can see myself doing such a ritual for that role.

I had the chance to play Iago from Macbeth Othello in a high school English class. We recorded it on a Handycam.

Before each scene I worked myself into the deepest solipcism and self-justification mindset I could. Remembering all the bad stuff that’s ever happened to me and trying to get angry and insensitive, just wanting to wound Macbeth Othello.

I got an A on that one. Just trying to copy my understanding of the character.


There’s ceilings in all of those shots. They actually shot room interiors on-location, and not on sets? Or was that just a Kubrickian detail?


I thought the exterior was a real hotel (in Oregon?), but the interior was a studio?



Iago is not in Macbeth. Iago is in Othello.


Actually, most of the exterior shots are also a set. Long shots are the real hotel, but they built a duplicate in London, so whenever you see anyone walking around in the parking lot or whatever, that’s a set.


Yeah, I’ve done things like that, although mostly to get the right energy rather than to put myself in an emotional state.

I was in a historical pageant that had a real high energy first scene, followed by a short break and then a second scene where I had lines, but physically I was just standing around. I found that quickly going from zero to high energy worked fine for the first scene, but during the break I would lose my momentum and have difficulty coming across in the second scene. (We were performing outdoors and really had to project.) Once I started running laps backstage, I was able to keep my energy high throughout the show.

Of course, film is a very different beast than theatre.


FFS, I need to pay better attention. Thanks.


Don’t feel too bad. Once I was doing the Merry Wives of Windsor (I was Pistol), and in the scene where Nym and Pistol come out talking about their revenge on Falstaff, Nym suddenly goes up, and with remarkable auto-pilot, completely jumps to Touchstone’s “bandy thee in faction” speech from As You Like It. The speeches are remarkably similar in tone, basically being a list of bad things you’ll do to an enemy. I just stood there wide-eyed, wondering if he’d ever come back to Merry Wives. Eventually he did, and we exited. I fell on the backstage floor doubled over in laughter. He’d had no idea he’d gone up.


I liked watching Shelly Duvall work herself up to be Sadako.


Sets constructed on soundstages can have ceilings. Just about all of the filming for The Shining was done at EMI Elstree Studios, and there are plenty of shots in the movie with ceilings in them. Often the ceilings are major elements of the shot composition (compare the bathroom scene, gold room scene, “all work and no play”, any of the hallway tracking shots).



WRONG. Iago is in “Aladdin.”


Reminded what an amazing shot that was, where the camera “image-stabilzes” on the axe itself.


Heh, heh, heh. I remember years ago sitting backstage with another Shakespeare geek, lamenting that Aladdin would be the Iago reference for a generation.


This movie did a number on my 12-year-old brain when the woman turns into the old corpse in the bathtub.

We had a bathtub that looked very similar to the one in the movie.

I didn’t want to use the bathroom for like 3 days.


I keep imagining Trump doing the same…


Related to this:

In Shakespeare, it can get confusing when you’re supposed to come on, and it’s not unknown for players to wander onstage at the wrong time. I’ve never seen it done, but, supposedly, when this happens one just says, “Alas, I must away and find the king,” and then amscray. The line is perfect iambic pentameter, so will, in theory, blend right in.


Ha! I have certainly seen actors enter at the wrong time. But that line’s a new one on me, and I’ve done a few. The best one was a guy who just glared at everybody like they were in the wrong scene, then s l o o o w l y backed out as if he expected to have to draw on them at any second.