The Shining
SCREAM: The Horror Magazine|Issue 42

Scream Meets the Grady Twins!

Louise and Lisa Burns were only eleven years old when they appeared in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. The sisters played the Grady twins, ghosts of girls who were murdered in the Overlook Hotel and went on to haunt young Danny Torrance, the son of the building’s new residents. The Grady twins became iconic horror characters. Their scenes are some of the most frightening in horror film history but the sisters who played them never acted again, opting to instead follow different career paths. Lisa is now a Criminal Lawyer and Louise, a published Scientist/ Teacher, but both expressed a strong interest in returning to acting and horror filmmaking.

SCREAM’s Daniel Goodwin met up with the sisters in a former Elizabethan coaching tavern on the leafy outskirts of London and were delighted to discover they were nothing like the cold-eyed ghosts they played in the horror masterpiece. The three of us ordered drinks: a Chilean red wine (not rum) for Lisa and a soft drink for Louise (as she was driving) then found a quiet corner in the pub. Louise and Lisa hauled up old memories from their time working with Stanley Kubrick on one of the greatest horror films ever made. They also talked about how The Shining affected their adult lives and what they both hope for the future.

SCREAM: How did you go about landing the parts of the Grady twins?

LOUISE: It was a public audition. They were originally advertising for just sisters. We came up to London for the day and dad said even if we didn’t get the parts we could get to look around a movie studio.

LISA: I think there were about three thousand people who auditioned. We were interviewed by the casting director and that’s how we got to meet Stanley. I think he might have been there initially but in a room away from everyone else. There was a filtering process before we met him.

LOUISE: I remember him seeming huge!

LISA: Yes, huge beard and American accent. We didn’t know anyone who had beards back then.

SCREAM: Were you aware of Kubrick or Jack Nicholson’s work prior to The Shining?

LOUISE: Mum remembered A Clockwork Orange.

LISA: Because Kubrick had banned it! I’m sure after Clockwork Orange came out, the press reported on these murders or attacks and linked them to the film. I think Kubrick either then banned it or asked people not to show it. I don’t think it was a very big film at the time.

LOUISE: It’s got a huge cult following now though. Much bigger than his earlier stuff like Lolita.

SCREAM: Did the controversy surrounding Kubrick’s earlier work like A Clockwork Orange and Lolita, concern your parents when letting you audition for The Shining, especially as this one was a horror?

LOUISE: No because mum came with us all the time as a chaperone.

LISA: There was a very family-like atmosphere on set.

LOUISE: Yes. His own children came and other people’s children came, people brought their dogs.

LISA (to Louise): Do you remember we all went down to Angels fancy dress shop in London with the costume designer (Milena Canonero) and had a dress up?

LOUISE: Yes. I don’t think it was called that then though.

SCREAM: Is that where you got the little blue dresses from?

LOUISE: No, I think she went to Brent Cross and picked them up (laughs). They were truly awful those blue dresses.

LISA: They were the kind your mother buys you that you don’t want to wear. They were made of this horrible, scratchy, patchwork stuff. They were so bad even the moths wouldn’t touch them.

LOUISE: It’s a wonder they didn’t catch fire. I’m glad we got Kensington Gore back though [vials of fake blood labelled “Kensington Gore” which Kubrick gave them as presents].

SCREAM: The blood that he covered you both with at the end of the shoot, when you played the mutilated corpses?

LOUISE: Yes! We could only film that once and it was right at the end.

LISA: I think you can still see the stains on the dresses today.

SCREAM: Can you remember any key directorial advice that Kubrick gave you?

LOUISE: We weren’t told to sound scary for the film but I think, when we first met Kubrick and both spoke together at the same time, he found that very unnerving.

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