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Jack Nicholson: Resurfaced video shows actor moments before Stanley Kubrick filmed The Shining axe scene

Clip shows actor getting into the mindset of Jack Torrance

Jacob Stolworthy
Friday 22 April 2022 09:39 BST
Documentary footage shows Jack Nicholson preparing to film The Shining’s 'axe scene'

A video showing Jack Nicholson gearing up to perform the iconic “Here’s Johnny!” axe scene in The Shining has resurfaced online.

Nicholson, who turns 85 today (22 April), played Jack Torrance in Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 adaptation of the Stephen King novel – and the performance is considered one of his greatest.

The clip shows the actor getting into the mindset of Torrance, who has been convinced by the ghosts of the Overlook hotel to murder his wife, Wendy (Shelley Duvall), and son, Danny (Danny Lloyd)

Nicholson can be seen – axe in hand – jumping up and down, shouting “axe murderer.” He completely ignores Duvall.

Moments later, he would improvise the “Here’s Johnny!” line, which was a reference to the intro of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.

Interestingly, Kubrick originally shot the scene with a fake door, but Nicholson – who once trained as a fire marshal – chopped it down too quickly.

The axe wielded by Nicholson in the classic horror film sold for £170,000 at an auction in London.

A sequel to The Shining titled Doctor Sleep, was Released in 2019, starring Ewan McGregor as a grown up version of Danny.

Last year, Duvall took part in a rare interview in which she recalled her challenging time on set working with Kubrick. She broke down in tears while watching the scene in which Nicholson’s character tells her: “I’m not gonna hurt you; I’m gonna bash your brains in.”

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