See Danny From "The Shining" Now at 49
Danny Lloyd retired from acting not long after the movie but recently made a special onscreen return.
The Shining is one of the scariest movies (and novels) of all time, and it helped make Danny Lloyd, who played Danny Torrance in the film, a child star and horror icon. Lloyd hails from the midwest and wasn't really a child actor at the time—he found his way to the role after his father saw a casting call for young children to act in an upcoming film, per The Guardian. Director Stanley Kubrick hired him to play the son of Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall's characters because he was impressed by Lloyd's ability to concentrate and focus, which would come in handy in the Stephen King adaptation's most intense scenes. Read on to find out why Lloyd didn't continue acting as an adult and how he honors his role in the classic horror flick today.
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He had no idea he was acting in a horror film.
Lloyd, who was eight years old when the movie came out, recalled in a 2017 interview with The Guardian that he thought The Shining was a drama about a family who lived in a hotel. It wasn't until years later when he watched the uncut version of the movie that he realized that the twin girls he played with with on the set were playing ghosts and that Nicholson's character, Jack Torrance, was trying to kill his.
During filming, the child actor was protected by Kubrick and the rest of the cast and crew so that he wouldn't be scarred for life. For example, they used dummies in place of Lloyd in some of the most violent scenes, and there were a lot of games played between takes. Overall, he has fond memories of making the movie.
"I specifically remember I was banned from the set for the entire time Scatman Crothers was being axed," Lloyd told The Guardian, referring to Dick Halloran's brutal death scene.
He only played one other role as a child.
Two years after The Shining, Lloyd appeared as "Young Liddy" in Will: The Autobiography of G. Gordon Liddy, and it would prove to be his last credit as a child actor, though he did continue auditioning for a time. He told The Guardian that dealing with rejection at such young age isn't what made him quit the business, however. "No, I wouldn't say it was upsetting," Lloyd explained. "I always enjoyed it. It was exciting. But as I got a little bit older, it got kind of boring. Then I had to tell my parents that I was ready to quit. Which they were fine with. They were never stage parents. They made sure I had a normal upbringing."
He's a biology professor and a dad.
Lloyd is now a father of four kids and teaches biology at Elizabethtown Community College in Kentucky. He told The Daily News in 2013, "I lead a pretty normal life now. People don't recognize me when I got out in public." In 2019, he told The Hollywood Reporter that he prefers his students not know about his former life as a child actor. "I try to keep it on the down low," Lloyd said. "You get students of all different ages. The younger ones are not aware and that's how it should be. But every now and then, a student will say something."
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He had a cameo in a sequel to The Shining.
In 2019, Ewan McGregor starred as an adult Danny Torrance in the sequel Doctor Sleep, adapted from King's Shining sequel of the same name. The movie revolves around Danny trying to protect a young girl who also the Shine from the True Knot, a cult that feeds off of it. Writer and director Mike Flanagan found Lloyd on Twitter and asked him if he'd make a cameo in the film, as reported by via Variety. Lloyd was game, and you can spot him in the scene where the True Knot travels to Iowa to kidnap a young Shiner named Bradley Trevor (Jacob Tremblay). Lloyd plays a spectator (pictured above right), who's watching Bradley's Little League baseball game from the stands and telling another parent that it almost seems like the boy can "read the pitcher's mind."
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He doesn't believe any of the conspiracy theories.
There are so many conspiracy theories about The Shining out there—including that Kubrick used visual clues in the costumes to help the U.S. government fake the 1969 moon landing—that there's a feature-length documentary about them, 2012's Room 237. Lloyd may have been just a kid when he made the movie, but he'll tell anyone who asks that that's all that the cast and crew were doing—making a movie.
"Honestly, no. I don't think there's any basis to any of it really," he told The Guardian when asked about the various fan theories. "I think it's just people being such fans of Kubrick and trying to explain some of the things that are almost unexplainable. 'Why did he do this? Why he did do that?' But no, I don't buy into any of the conspiracies." Instead, he remembers the late Kubrick as a regular guy who called to congratulate him on his high school graduation and continued to send Christmas cards for years after the film wrapped.