Lizzy Caplan Explains How The Fatal Attraction Series Will Improve Upon The Movie
  • Dec. 6, 2022 3:05 pm EST

Adrian Lyne's "Fatal Attraction" wasn't just a surprise blockbuster when it hit theaters in the fall of 1987, it was a cultural phenomenon that answered a titillating "what if" with a terrifying worst-case scenario. Happily married Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas) is, in some ways, a victim of timing. He happens to set off sparks over a Manhattan business lunch with book editor Alex Forrest (Glenn Close) as his wife, Beth, (Anne Archer), and young daughter, Ellen (Ellen Hamilton Latzen), head out of town for the weekend. He could say no. He should say no. But relieved of fatherly duties for a few days, his libido takes the wheel and plunges him into a torrid affair that both participants initially agree is nothing more than a scratch-an-itch fling.

But Alex wants more. She falls in love with Dan, and can't accept the abrupt end of their acquaintance. She turns suicidal, then vengeful. Though Close delivers a wincingly painful portrait of a mentally fragile woman in the throes of heartbreak, Lyne ultimately transforms her into a homicidal hellion. At the end of the film, she tries to murder Beth. After Dan seemingly drowns her in the bathtub, she springs up swinging a butcher knife like a jilted Jason Voorhees, only to be shot in the chest by Beth. The harpy is dead, Dan's marriage is saved and the audience goes home satisfied.

This was not how "Fatal Attraction" was supposed to conclude. Now that the film (which was based on a 1980 British movie by James Dearden) has been re-conceived as a series for Paramount+, Lizzy Caplan, the new Alex, believes her character will be presented in a more three-dimensional, less-villainous fashion.

The de-Voorhees-ing of Alex

When Paramount test screened Lyne's "Fatal Attraction" in 1987, the film's original ending, wherein a desperate Alex sneaks into the Gallagher house and attempts to frame Dan for murder by slashing her throat, went over poorly with audiences. Realizing viewers wanted to see Alex pay for trying to break up a happy home, they got the actors back together and reshot the ending, which probably tacked an extra $100 million onto the domestic gross.

While Caplan, in an interview with Grazia, acknowledges that Lyne's film is still great and "makes you ask big questions," she correctly notes that its portrayal of Alex did Close a tremendous disservice. Per Caplan:

A Fatal Attraction for the #MeToo era

I saw "Fatal Attraction" in a packed theater during its first theatrical run, and Caplan is spot on. The audience cheered when Beth blasted Alex with Dan's revolver. So it's heartening to hear that the series, which also stars Joshua Jackson as Dan and Amanda Peet as Beth, will take a more nuanced view of the affair. As Caplan told Grazia:

The "Fatal Attraction" series will premiere on Paramount+ at a TBD date in 2023. Whether it'll stir up as much conversation and controversy as Lyne's take on the material remains to be seen, but it'll be a thrill to see an actor as talented as Caplan work a new, complex variation on a classic role.