It won’t be ignored! Fatal Attraction debuted in theaters more than three decades ago, but the critically acclaimed film remains a fan favorite.
The erotic thriller — which began as the 1979 short Diversion — was fleshed out into a full-fledged screenplay by writer-director James Dearden. The story follows Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas), a married New York lawyer, as he enters into a seemingly no-strings-attached affair with Alex Forrest (Glenn Close) while wife Beth (Anne Archer) and daughter Ellen (Ellen Hamilton Latzen) are out of town. However, when Alex becomes increasingly obsessed with Dan, the relationship takes a dangerous turn.
Upon its release, Fatal Attraction was an instant box office hit, spending eight weeks at No. 1 and becoming the second-highest-grossing film of 1987 behind Three Men and a Baby. The film earned more than $157 million domestically and went on to nab six Acadamy Award nominations including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Film Editing.
Over time, however, the psychological thriller has faced backlash for its portrayal of mental health. When Paramount+ announced in February 2021 that a TV adaptation of the cult classic was in the works, Close was hesitant to accept the idea.
“Her reaction was a little bit lukewarm because I think for her — and she’s been vocal about this, this isn’t me opining — there’s frustrations for her about how Alex Forrest’s struggle with her mental health was portrayed in the film, and how that was just reduced to ‘she’s a crazy lady’ trope,” Joshua Jackson, who stars as Dan in the update series, told The Hollywood Reporter in April 2023. “And so I told her honestly that’s kind of the point of what we’re doing here, is we’re going to dive into that. He’s going to have more consequences for his actions and she’s also going to have a fullness of her story and an explanation of the who and how and why she is who she is.”
He added: “She actually liked that idea and essentially the conversation boiled down to, ‘Interesting, don’t f—k it up.’”
When it came to repeating the infamous scene where Close boils a rabbit on the stove, showrunner Alexandra Cunningham told the outlet that while she “knew” there had to be a bunny “in some form,” it proved to be more difficult than anticipated. “If you’re trying to tell a story where you’re trying to humanize someone with mental health struggle, for better or worse, we know they can’t kill an animal,” she explained.
Lizzy Caplan — who portrays Alex — joked that what her character actually does in the show is potentially worse than what happens in the original film.
“It’s been very funny. Obviously, it’s one of the most iconic parts of that movie, but there’s a bloodlust to people when they ask that question, ‘What happens to the rabbit?’ People want that rabbit to die,” the Party Down star quipped.
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