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Shelley Duvall Vanished From Hollywood. She’s Been Here the Whole Time.

On a winding back road of Texas Hill Country, Shelley Duvall pulled over and lit another cigarette.

“How did you like Egypt?” she called out from the white Toyota 4Runner she spends most of her days in, and some nights, much to the chagrin of her partner, Dan Gilroy. The “Egypt” she referred to is an industrial site one passes on the way into the small town Ms. Duvall has called home for more than a decade, its piles of sand and gravel, glimpsed at speed, resembling the ancient pyramids.

She cracked a grin, revving the engine. “Next stop: Santa Fe!” she announced before vanishing down the road in a cloud of dust.

To follow Ms. Duvall, 74, on the road and in conversation, is to enter into powerfully imaginative realms. Stories that begin in a certain direction have a habit of taking the scenic route, and, occasionally, swerving excitingly off-piste. One minute she might be talking in depth about shooting the horror film “The Shining” or the high jinks from the cast on the “Popeye”set, and the next she’s recalling lyrics from songs — all while retrieving crumpled headshots and cast photographs from a Ziploc bag she keeps in the SUV’s glove compartment.

Because of health issues, includingdiabetes and an injured foot that has greatly impacted her mobility (“My left one, like that Daniel Day-Lewis movie,” she joked.), Ms. Duvall often stays in her 4Runner, some days driving to local nature spots, catching up with people in town and visiting drive-throughs.The driver’s seat is the only open space, as the interior is cluttered with takeout cartons and empty coffee cups.

Ms. Duvall has not appeared in a movie since 2002, but she is making a comeback with a film scheduled to be released this spring.Credit…Katherine Squier for The New York Times

For more than two decades, Ms. Duvall’s career was at a standstill.Her lastfilm role had come in 2002’s “Manna From Heaven,” after which she retired for reasons that have remained a mystery from a varied and, by most counts, successful career as both an actor and producer. Among the most common questions that show up when you search her name these days:What happened to Shelley Duvall? and Why did Shelley Duvall disappear?

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