Lloyd, Danny

Lloyd, Danny
(1975– )
   The son of James and Ann Lloyd, Danny Lloyd came from a small town in Illinois where his father was a railroad engineer. Lloyd was five and a half years old when STANLEY KUBRICK cast him as Danny Torrance in THE SHINING. Kubrick told MICHEL CIMENT that he had his assistant, LEON VITALI (who played Barry Lyndon’s stepson in BARRY LYNDON) interview some 5,000 boys in Chicago, Cincinnati, and Denver over a sixmonth period. Vitali winnowed the group down to a handful of lads who could really act, and did brief improvisations with each of them on videotape for Kubrick, who chose Danny Lloyd.
   The child labor laws in England, where the movie was shot, were stringent; Danny could only work until 4:30 in the afternoon and for 40 days in a calendar year. Rehearsal days in which Kubrick did no actual filming did not count. So Kubrick rehearsed Danny one day and shot the scene the following day. “He was a terrific boy,” said Kubrick. “He was very smart, very talented, and very sensible. Danny always knew his lines; . . . he was always reasonable and very well behaved. ”
   In the film, Jack Torrance (JACK NICHOLSON), his wife, Wendy (SHELLEY DUVALL), and son, Danny, move into the Overlook Hotel, a summer resort in the Colorado mountains, where Jack has taken the job of winter caretaker. Jack hopes to use his considerable spare time to write a book. He has an alcohol problem, and in a drunken rage some months earlier had injured Danny’s shoulder.
   Danny, traumatized by the episode, has taken refuge in talking to an imaginary buddy named Tony and has even begun to “shine”; that is, he possesses the psychic power to experience visions from the past and the future. He explains his ability to shine by saying that his make-believe friend Tony sends him messages. “When Danny shines,” writes critic Pauline Kael,“he often waggles his forefinger and talks in the guttural voice of his imaginary playmate,Tony, who, Danny says,‘lives in my mouth. ’ Danny, with his shining, is picking up warnings. ” Thus Tony is given to croaking “redrum,” which is murder spelled backward-a premonition that his father has some sinister designs on him and his mother. He frequently rides a tricycle through the hotel corridors and lounges, further withdrawing into himself. As Kubrick told Ciment, “Danny has had a frightening and disturbing childhood. Brutalized by his father and haunted by his paranoid visions, he has to find some psychological mechanism within himself to manage these powerful and dangerous forces. To do this, he creates his imaginary friend Tony, through whom Danny can rationalize his visions and survive. ”
   Jack begins to “shine” as well; it develops that he was a guest in the hotel 50 years earlier, in a former existence in which he was apparently a successful author. In one of his trancelike visions Jack meets up with a phantom bartender and waiter who knew him in those days. Moreover, Jack discovers by way of his extrasensory experiences that the hotel is haunted by the ghost of a previous caretaker, who killed his wife and child and then took his own life. Danny also sometimes has visions of the ghostly children. Jack’s reincarnation as a mere caretaker who has failed to restore his writing career this time around-coupled with the isolated and lonely life in the snow-choked hotel—gradually leads him into madness. He even feels driven, in his insane state, to repeat the brutal crimes of the earlier caretaker as he lurches through the hotel and grounds, brandishing a fire ax. He calls himself “the Big Bad Wolf,” in a reference to the classic fairy tale The Three Little Pigs, as he axes his way into the family bathroom to capture Wendy and Danny: “I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your house in. ” Critic Jonathan Romney comments that Jack chases his wife and son through the hotel with “an inarticulate animal roar,” signaling that he has finally degenerated into a savage beast. Since Leon Vitali had known Danny Lloyd since he first interviewed him in Chicago, Kubrick assigned Vitali to be Danny’s guardian around the studio and to coach him personally in his part. One of Danny’s early scenes involved his being examined by a doctor (Anne Jackson), shortly after the family arrives in Colorado, since Wendy feels that Danny has not been himself since his father attacked him. Anne Jackson, who was interviewed by Jill Bernstein, remembers that, when Kubrick showed up on the set to film the scene in the doctor’s office, he did not look like a typical movie director: “He wore a lumber jacket like the boys in East New York when I was a kid. It didn’t look like a grown-up man’s gear. ” Still she was impressed with the way he handled Danny Lloyd. He did not intimidate Danny, she says: “What was wonderful about him was that he really gave direction, but it didn’t seem as if he was doing it. ” When Kubrick came to the scene late in the movie in which Danny hides in the hotel kitchen from Jack, who is on the rampage,Kubrick noted that it involved no dialogue. So he decided to employ a technique used in the days of silent cinema: talking an actor through a scene while the cameras were turning. Kubrick advised Vitali that he would shoot the scene silent and to tell Danny to follow his directions. The filming of this scene was captured in VIVIAN KUBRICK’s documentary The Making of the Shining. “Listen to Stanley,”Vitali says into an intercom as a camera on a dolly is ready to follow Danny’s movements. In the scene, Danny runs into the kitchen and shuts himself in a kitchen cabinet. When the cameras rolled, Kubrick directed Danny through a megaphone. “Danny, run fast along the corridor, look scared. . . . Danny, start to slow down, see the cabinet door, look in the cupboard, quickly get in the cupboard, Danny. ” Danny Lloyd dutifully clambered into the cabinet with the pots and pans.
   Danny Lloyd told Bernstein, “Stanley had a really good way of speaking to me: ‘Okay, Danny, this is what we want you to do, and we want you to look really scared. . . . ” He put it on a level that a kid could understand, and he didn’t bark orders. ” SCATMAN CROTHERS, who played Dick Hallorann, the cook at the Overlook Hotel who becomes friends with Danny before Hallorann departs the Overlook for the winter, says in the documentary that he loved working with Danny Lloyd. “Just like my son,” he explains as he bursts into tears. “I’ll never forget this. ” Kael complimented Danny Lloyd on his performance, saying that he had “a clear face and a grave, unchildish voice; he has a lovely, calm, trancelike quality. ” Yet Danny Lloyd did not continue his screen career beyond making one further appearance, this time in a TV docudrama, The Autobiography of G. Gordon Liddy (1982). Liddy was a member of President Nixon’s staff who spent four years in prison for his part in the Watergate scandal. Lloyd played Liddy as a boy.
   ■ Bernstein, Jill, et al. , “Stanley Kubrick:A Cinematic Odyssey,” Premiere 12, no. 7 (August 1999), pp. 85–93, 98–100;
   ■ Ciment, Michel, Kubrick, trans. Gilbert Adair (New York: Faber and Faber, 2001);
   ■ Combs, Richard, “Kubrick Talks: The Making of The Shining,Film Comment 32, no. 5 (September/October, 1996): 81–84;
   ■ Kael, Pauline, Taking It All In (New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1984), pp. 1–7;
   ■ Romney, Jonathan, “Resident Phantoms:The Shining,” Sight and Sound, Special Kubrick issue (n. s. ), no. 9 (September 1999): 8–11.

The Encyclopedia of Stanley Kubrick. . 2002.

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