Entertainment Dr. Phil doesn’t regret controversial 2016 Shelley Duvall interview but says its promotion was ‘unbecoming’
The talk-show host also fired back at critics who publicly rebuked the episode, saying they didn’t “do a damn thing” to help the actress while she was struggling with her mental health.
Dr. Phil McGraw has addressed the backlash to his controversial interview with Shelley Duvall in 2016.
The TV personality, who announced his talk show was ending earlier this year, was asked whether or not he regretted how he conducted the episode, in which the Shining actress revealed that she was suffering from mental illness.
“I don’t regret what I did,” he said in an interview with journalist Chris Wallace on Friday’s episode of CNN’s Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace. “I regret that it was promoted in a way that people thought was unbecoming.”
McGraw continued, “There are parts of that story that I haven’t talked about and won’t talk about in specific, but I can say generally that we worked with her family [and] with her for over a year off camera, after the fact, providing her opportunities for inpatient and outpatient psychiatric care. I can’t tell you the extent we went through.”
The talk-show host did, however, have a response to viewers who lambasted the episode and knocked Dr. Phil for “showboating the visibly ill.”
“And the people that were critical of it, nobody ever asked them what they ever did to try and help her,” he said. “And the answer is not a damn thing.”
During her sit-down interview with McCraw, Duvall made multiple claims, including that her Popeye costar Robin Williams was still alive as a shape-shifter and that she had a “whirring disc” inside her. “I’m very sick,” she said. “I need help.”
Dr. Phil McGraw
Dr. Phil McGraw
| Credit: Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Netflix
In 2021, Duvall told The Hollywood Reporter that she personally agreed to the interview with McGraw and “found out the kind of person he is the hard way.” She added, “My mother didn’t like him, either. A lot of people, like Dan [Gilroy, her partner], said, ‘You shouldn’t have done that, Shelley.'”
Following the episode’s broadcast, Duval, who made her return to acting this year in the horror film The Forest Hills, claimed that McGraw attempted to contact her multiple times. “He started calling my mother,” she said. “She told him, ‘Don’t call my daughter anymore.’ But he started calling my mother all the time trying to get her to let me talk to him again.”
A spokesperson for Dr. Phil said the series views every episode “as an opportunity to share relatable, useful information and perspective with our audiences” in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter at the time.
“We don’t attach the stigma associated with mental illness which many do,” the spokesperson added. “With no one else offering help, our goal was to document the struggle and bring amazing resources to change her trajectory as we have for so many over 19 years. Unfortunately, she declined our initial offer for inpatient treatment that would have included full physical and mental evaluations, giving her a chance to privately manage her challenges. After many months of follow-up, in collaboration with her mother, she ultimately refused assistance. We were of course very disappointed, but those offers for help remain open today.”