Shelley Duvall Reflects on Her Controversial 'Dr. Phil' Interview: 'My Mother Didn't Like Him'

"I found out the kind of person he is the hard way," the 71-year-old actress told The Hollywood Reporter

Shelley Duvall
Shelley Duvall. Photo: Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty

Actress Shelley Duvall is opening up about her 2016 appearance on the Dr. Phil show, which was widely criticized at the time as being exploitative of her mental health struggles.

In a new wide-ranging interview with The Hollywood Reporter, which was conducted in January, the 71-year-old actress, who has been living an under-the-radar life in Texas for almost three decades, reflected on the controversial appearance.

After years out of the spotlight — her last film credit was in the 2002 independent film Manna from Heaven — the actress told THR that she was contacted by a producer on the daytime talk show in 2016.

"I found out the kind of person he is the hard way," said Duvall of the doctor and TV personality. THR described her as being "visibly distressed" when Phil McGraw's name was mentioned. "My mother didn't like him, either."

Duvall also said that "a lot of people," including partner Dan Gilroy, told her afterwards that she "shouldn't have done" it.

Among those who criticized the show for airing Duvall's interview was Vivian Kubrick, the daughter of The Shining director Stanley Kubrick.

Criticizing the show's lack of "compassionate healing," she wrote in 2016, "unquestionably, this is purely a form of lurid and exploitive entertainment — it's appallingly cruel."

After the interview aired, Duvall said that McGraw tried repeatedly to get in contact with her mother.

"He started calling my mother. She told him, 'Don't call my daughter anymore.' But he started calling my mother all the time trying to get her to let me talk to him again," she said.

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In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, a spokesperson for the Dr. Phil show said, "We view every Dr. Phil episode, including Miss Duvall and her struggle with mental illness, as an opportunity to share relatable, useful information and perspective with our audience."

"We don't attach the stigma associated with mental illness which many do. With no one else offering help, our goal was to document the struggle and bring amazing resources to change her trajectory as we have for so many over 19 years," the statement continued. "Unfortunately, she declined our initial offer for inpatient treatment that would have included full physical and mental evaluations, giving her a chance to privately manage her challenges. After many months of follow-up, in collaboration with her mother, she ultimately refused assistance. We were of course very disappointed, but those offers for help remain open today."

In Duvall's profile, THR writer Seth Abramovitch noted that although her "mood ebbed and flowed throughout the day," the actress' memory was "sharp."

"It didn't feel right for McGraw's insensitive sideshow to be the final word on her legacy," Abramovitch wrote.

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