From A to Zowie
Danny Lloyd: the one missed interview I regret
By Richard Zowie
(Published in the August 4, 2010 issue of the Clio, Mich.-based Mt. Morris/Clio Birch Run/Bridgeport Herald)
Reporters all have that one elusive story. We regret it and wonder what would’ve happened had we scored the interview. What kind of story would’ve been written? What would we have learned? How could we have expanded ourselves as reporters? Would we have had an inside scoop?
Back in 2000, when I was beginning my journalism career, I brainstormed about a great story to write. What would be something fun and exciting? What would make for a really, really great interview?
As I brainstormed, I began thinking of The Shining, a 1980 Stanley Kubrick horror film that, to this day, still gives me the creeps when I watch it. In the movie, Jack Nicholson plays a writer who serves as the winter caretaker of a haunted Colorado hotel. He goes crazy and tries to kill his family. His son, played by the extremely precocious Danny Lloyd, has the ability to “shine”, or to communicate with people by talking telepathically (he shines to one person that something terrible is happening at the hotel). He can also see events happening in the past and in the future.
While thinking of the movie, reading a biography of Kubrick and doing some research I realized something startling: Lloyd and I are the same age (we were both around 27 at the time). What’s he doing these days? I thought.
Some further research helped me to find Lloyd’s parents’ first names and the general vicinity of where they lived. I found Mrs. Lloyd and we proceeded to have a very pleasant phone conversation. Mrs. Lloyd told me these fascinating tidbits about The Shining:
* Both Jack Nicholson and Shelly Duvall were both very friendly, as was Scatman Crothers. Duvall invited the Lloyds to visit her house sometime and swim in her pool.
* Stanley Kubrick was a “genius”. As someone who’s a fan of Kubrick’s, readers have no idea what a thrill it was to speak to someone who knew the legendary filmmaker. Furthermore, whenever the Lloyd’s felt Danny had had enough filming for the day, Kubrick (who died in 1999) would comply.
* Danny was so closely guarded during filming that he didn’t realize, until he was a teenager, that he’d made a horror film.
* The infamous scene where Danny rides his big wheel down a hall and rounds a corner and sees apparitions of two young girls was accomplished by filming Danny and the girls separately. The two films were then spliced together during post-production to make it look like he and the girls were together.
Believe it or not, Danny is actually staring into an empty hall.
Mrs. Lloyd told me she’d call Danny and see if he wanted to be interviewed.
A few days later, I called back and learned I’d join the ranks of the other reporters who’ve tried to interview Danny and were turned down. Danny declined my request.
This is what Danny Lloyd looks like as an adult.
Yes, I was disappointed, but I can’t complain too much. I’ve interviewed other people over the years, from the famous (Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones in a brief, one-question interview) to the fascinating (Colonel Arthur Burer, an Air Force pilot who spent about seven years as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War). So it hasn’t been all that bad.