Watch: Jack Nicholson psyching up for The Shining’s axe scene
Video shows Nicholson jumping around and practising with an axe before ‘Here’s Johnny’ scene
Method actor Jack Nicholson puts more into preparing for a role than most, but we don’t often see him psyche himself up for a big scene.
Now, rare footage from behind the scenes of The Shining has resurfaced, showing Nicholson jumping up and down, practising swings with an axe and muttering “die” and “axe murderer kill!” ahead of his famous “Here’s Johnny” scene.
The 1980 horror film, based on a novel by Stephen King, depicts the descent into madness of recovering alcoholic Jack Torrance. Torrance takes a job as an off-season caretaker and moves into the famously sinister Overlook Hotel with his wife Wendy (played by Shelley Duvall) and son. Needless to say, terror ensues.
Nicholson can be heard saying “come on, come on!” to himself as he gets ready to portray the character’s brutal attack on his wife.
The scene took three days to film, and Nicholson reportedly tore down almost 60 doors in the process. The legendary “Here’s Johnny” line was improvised by Nicholson, and nearly wasn’t included in the final cut.
He received widespread praise for his performance, and the scene has frequently made its way into lists of the scariest movie scenes of all time.