25 Fun Facts About “The Shining” TV Miniseries

The Shining remains one of the most iconic horror films of all time.  Lines like “Here’s Johnny” or “Redrum” have become recognizable not just among diehard horror fans, but with the general public as well.  However, one of the movie’s harshest critics has always been Stephen King himself, who famously took issue with the way that Stanley Kubrick adapted his novel.

For years, King was critical of the movie adaptation, but in 1997 he finally got a chance to adapt his story the way he saw fit.  What resulted was a 3 part TV mini-series which King himself wrote the teleplay for, and endorsed fully as the true and accurate adaptation of his novel.  Now that this TV miniseries officially turns 25 today, we thought it would be fun to look at 25 fun facts about Stephen King’s The Shining!

1. One of the caveats to King getting the rights back from the Kubrick estate was that he had to stop badmouthing the original Kubrick movie, to which he agreed.

2. Director Mick Garris had previously directed other Stephen King adaptations, Sleepwalkers and The Stand.

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Garris, along with Rob Reiner, and Frank Darabont, is known for directing multiple King adaptions and “getting it right” according to the author himself.

3. King’s primary objective was to portray Jack Torrance as a tragic character rather than insane at the very beginning.

4. He also wanted the miniseries to focus more heavily on Jack’s drinking as the source of his downward spiral into madness.

5. Another important detail for King was that Wendy was blonde like in the novel.

6. The role of Jack Torrance was originally offered to Tim Daly, but scheduling conflicts prevent him from taking it. He did however recommend his Wings co-star Steven Weber, who wound up taking the role.

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Weber does an amazing job, especially when you consider he accepted the role only 4 days before filming began!

7. At one point, Mick Garris offered the role of Jack to Gary Sinise (whom he previously directed in The Stand), but he declined, feeling that it would be impossible to do the role without being compared to Jack Nicholson.

8. Shot on location at the Stanley Hotel in Colorado, the actual alleged haunted hotel that King based the novel on.

9. Despite the Overlook being in the middle of nowhere, the Stanley Hotel sits directly next to Estes Park, Colorado.  Thus the production had to use special lenses and angles to hide the town just next to them.

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It’s a gorgeous location and remains the real life inspiration for King’s novel. But’s definitely more a summer resort than a winter one given how little snow it gets.

10. The location is built in a “snow shadow” in which snow is quite rare.  However, during filming

11. The CGI for the firehose turning into a snake cost $30,000 for just two quick shots.

12. Stephen King himself has a cameo as the band leader during the New Year’s Eve party scene.

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King’s small role is admittedly a bit goofy, but he looks like he’s having a lot of fun.

13. His character is credited as “Gage Creed”, the same name as the toddler who comes back to life as a murderous demon in Pet Semetary.

14. King also served as the third unit director, and was responsible for all the photos in the scrapbook that Jack finds in the basement of the Overlook.

15. Mick Garris’ wife Cynthia Garris played the role of Mrs. Massey (the ghost in the bathtub in Room 217).

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Known by many as just the woman in the bathtub, Mrs. Massey is one of the most iconic images from “The Shining”. It’s also admittedly awkward that he director cast his own wife in the role of a decomposing ghost in the tub…

16. This adaptation brought back the topiary animals that came to life as was in the book.  However, many have criticized the CGI for not aging very well.

17. During the scene where Jack was speaking with the ghost of his father on the radio, his nosebleed was real as Steven Weber’s nose really did start to bleed.  But it was left in the final cut.

18. The voice of Jack’s father was Miguel Ferrer in an uncredited role.  Ferrer had also worked with Mick Garris on The Stand, playing Lloyd Henreid.

19. Shawnee Smith (Amanda from the Saw franchise) has a small role as a waitress in Miami when Dick Halloran receives Danny’s message via The Shining.

20. Steven Weber later recounted that playing the role of Jack Torrance was a huge challenge for him, especially because the scenes were shot out of order.  So he had to go from the early stages to full insane and back very rapidly throughout the shoot.

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He gives an incredibly layered performance that is honestly miles better than anything Jack Nicholson did in the 1980 film. Even those who prefer that version have to admit this is a much more three-dimensional Jack Torrance.

21. Frank Darabont (director of The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, and The Mist) also has a cameo as one of the living room ghosts.

22. Evil Dead and Spider-Man director Sam Raimi had a cameo as “Gas Station Howie”.

23. Aired on ABC over three nights in 1997, each night garnering 18-19 million viewers.

24. Initially, it received very positive reviews from critics, followed by years of fans condemning it as inferior to Kubrick’s original.  However in more recent years, horror fans have come to appreciate this version as an alternate, more book-accurate iteration of the story.

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It was never meant to replace the 1980 movie, just present a different version for fans to enjoy.

25. Nominated for 3 Primetime Emmy Awards, winning Outstanding Makeup and Outstanding Sound.  It was nominated for Outstanding Miniseries, but lost to Prime Suspect V: Errors of Judgment.

Which of these did you already know?  Which ones surprised you? Which version of The Shining do you prefer?  Let us know in the comments!

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One thought on “25 Fun Facts About “The Shining” TV Miniseries

  1. I really love that mini series! I have it and still watch it from time to time, unlike the Kubrick version. Since I read the book before watching with disappointment what Kubrick did to The Shining I was very happy with how the mini series portrayed the real essence of the book.


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