Since Vivian Kubrick was in grade school, she worked as a collaborator with her famous filmmaker father. She had cameos in a number of his movies including 2001: A Space Odyssey and Barry Lyndon. She shot the behind-the-scenes documentary about the making of The Shining at the age of 24. And she composed the score for Full Metal Jacket under the pseudonym of Abigail Mead. Kubrick seemed to groom his daughter to be his cinematic heir. And then in the late 90s, that all stopped. She cut off all contact with her family.
Kubrick’s family was initially cagey about what happened to her, saying simply that she was living in LA. But then in 2010, Kubrick’s stepdaughter Katharina opened up. “We weren’t lying, we were just being economical with the truth,” she told The Daily Beast. “Because if you say, ‘My sister has become a Scientologist,’ where do you go from that?”
The Church of Scientology’s policy of disconnection is one of its most controversial practices. It’s not clear if Vivian formerly disconnected with her family but she did reportedly attend her father’s funeral in 1999 with a Scientologist minder. When her sister Anya died of cancer in 2009, she did not attend that funeral even though they were, by all accounts, inseparable growing up.
The rift between Kubrick and his daughter became final when he asked her to score Eyes Wide Shut and she refused, as “They had a huge fight. He was very unhappy,” recalled Kubrick’s wife and Vivian’s mother. “He wrote her a 40-page letter trying to win her back. He begged her endlessly to come home from California. I’m glad he didn’t live to see what happened.”
Recently on her Twitter feed, Vivian posted a series of photos of herself on the set of her father’s movies. One picture shows an eight-year old Vivian clutching a baby chimp used on 2001. Another shows her hanging out on the milk bar set of A Clockwork Orange. “I helped cut out those Styrofoam letters on the wall,” she writes. Another picture shows Vivian sitting before a 16mm Steenbeck, editing her documentary on The Shining. And, most poignantly, one of her picture’s shows Vivian and Kubrick embracing on a deck chair.
“In Memory of my Dad,” she writes. “Who I loved with all my heart and soul… Dad and Me on the back veranda of Abbots Mead.”
More photos can be found on her Twitter stream.
Jonathan Crow is a Los Angeles-based writer and filmmaker whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hollywood Reporter, and other publications. You can follow him at @jonccrow.