“We’re two adults.”
Adrian Lyne . 1986
Guy goes to a party. But no, this is not a funny story… OK, man meets woman. They click. Man mates woman. Bye-bye. You think? Man makes a total dog’s breakfast of it all. She’s pregnant, she says. She’s in love, she says. He’s a happily married man, he says. So, like I said, bye-bye. She’s not having any. She becomes stalker - and more. He fears for his life. And for his family…
She sure knew her Congreve. “Heav'n has no rage, like love to hatred turned, nor Hell a fury like a woman scorn'd"
We’ve been here before.
Last time around it was called Play Misty For Me, and that’s why John Carpenter and Brian De Palma didn’t want to handle UK director James Dearden’s script. (Another UK star took it on: Adrian Lyne). Nothing new then, there’s been plenty of such sexual bitch-witches in Hollywood history. What else did Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Barbara Stanwyck cut their teeth on…
Now it’s the turn of Glenn Close, nobody’s first choice for book editor Alex Forrest. In fact, Lyne only tested her because he was surprised she wanted to test. And the legend insists, she only went after it because her arch rival, Meryl Streep refused it.
I’m not gonna be ignored, Dan!
Why are you trying to hurt me?
I’m not trying to hurt you Dan, I love you!
I love you!
You don't even know me
How can you say that?
The original climax was Alex committing suicide by slashing her throat… and making it look as if Dan had killed her.He was then saved by his dutiful wife, Beth, on finding a tape that Alex had sent him. US audiences didn’t like it (however it went down well in Japan, surprise, surprise) and a different finale ending was shot over three weeks (much against Glenn Close’s wishes) of Beth killing Alex. Ah so! Alex is victim; Beth, saviour of the family.
In later years, Close’s sister was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and a nephew also suffered mental illness. This changed her attitude to her most famous role and starting her Bring Change 2 Mind organisation aiming to end the stigma and discrimination of mental illness. Fatal Attraction, she said in 2013, played into that very stigma. She would read the script differently now.
There was some speculation in 1986, that Alex suffered from De Clerambault's Syndrome or erotomania, a form of paranoid delusion with an amorous quality. “The astounding thing was that in my research,” said Close, “I talked to two psychiatrists. Never did a mental disorder come up. Never did the possibility of that come up. That, of course, would be the first thing I would think of now.”
Dan Gallagher . The errant male, the adulterous husbandwas cast first.Who could get away with adultery and win the public’s sympathy during the aftermath…
In all some 25 guys were short-listed.James Belushi, Nicolas Cage, Kevin Costner, Robert De Niro, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Tom Hanks, John Heard, Kevin Kline, Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino, Dennis Quaid,Christopher Reeve, Arnold Schwarzenegger (!), Martin Sheen, OJ Simpson, Sylvester Stallone, John Travolta, Jon Voight, Bruce Willis.
Beth Gallagher . “If you ever come near my family again, I'll kill you. Do you understand?”Andie MacDowell and Cynthia ghodes passed the Dan’s wife to Anne Archer.
That’s nothing compared to the great search forthe lover from the bastion of Hell…This time Lyne’s short-list totalled 66 possibilities!
Have you ever done it in an elevator?
Not recently, no.
Alex Forrest . Because Alex was originally called Sean Forrest, Hollywood nudged-nudged, winked-winked and insisted she was based upon Sean Young, who had - in Hollywood eyes - succeeded Debra Winger as being… well, let’s be polite… goofy. “That was 1987,” she said. ”around the time James Woods accused me of stalking him… James Dearden wrote the screenplay and he went on to hire me for A Kiss Before Dying. He said he wrote [Fatal] with me in mind to play it, but not because he thought that character was me.” OK, Case closed.
Glenn Close simply blew away the other auditioners: Barbara Hershey, Gilda Radner (!), Emma Thompson, Tracey Ullman (!!), Debra Winger and Miranda Richardson dropped out for Steven Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun. And for Fatal being “regressive in its attitudes. I’d rather do many small roles on TV, stage or film than one blockbuster that made me rich but had no acting.” Owch!
Most of the 60-plus ladies were among the nearly Sarah Connors, target of The Terminator, in 1983 and again a year later for the rape victim and/or her lawyer in The Accused. They can best be divided into groups…
Four Spielberg women: Richardson, Kate Capshaw, Alison Doody, Amy Irving,
Two of Woody Allen’s: Diane Keaton and Mia Farrow (as a sexual witch?). (Then again…)
The Euro Brigade: Isabelle Adjani, Lena Olin, Isabelle Rossellini, None could have matched the gleeful Close promise: “I'll show you sexy!”
The UK contingent: Richardson, Thompson, Jane Seymour (!)
The Tad Twee: Carrie Fisher, Heather Locklear, Jennifer Grey, Kelly McGillis, Annie Potts, Sissy Spacek, Mary Steenburgen
The So Inevitable ’Tis Hardly Necesary To Name ’Em: Rosanna Arquette, Faye Dunaway, Angelica Huston, Jessica Lange, Susan Sarandon, Meryl Streep, Kathleen Turner,
The All Too Obvious… But Were They Really Up To It: Kim Basinger, Jamie Lee Curtis, Farrah Fawcett, Melanie Griffith, Michelle Pfeiffer.
The Eternal Runners-Up: Christine Baranski, Ellen Barkin, Christine Ebersole, Morgan Fairchild, Darryl Hannah, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kay Lenz.
The Why Not Think Outside The Box: Candice Bergen, Beverly D’Angelo, Geena Davis, Holly Hunter, Annette O’Toole, Cybill Shepherd, Raquel Welch
The Too Young For Springtime: Jennifer Beals, Jodie Foster, Demi Moore, Meg Ryan, Ally Sheedy
Thanks, But Got Some thinbg Better To Do: Elisabeth Shue. She was having … Adventures In Babysitting at Disney!
Singers Can Always Do The Title Song: Cher, Madonna, Bette Midler (!), Olivia Newton-John(!!) And Diana Ross when Michael Douglas first signed when the film was known as Diversions.
The Great Outsider: That has to be Gilda Radner…!
The Great Unknown: Sharon Stone Well, her last movie had been Police Academy 4, but Basic Instinct was just five years away with Dan Gallagher, himself: Michael Douglas.
Deserves A Break If She ReallyWants A Come-Back: Tuesday Weld. (She didn’t).
The Too Strong Duo: Linda Hamilton and Sigourney Weaver. Look what they did to terminators and aliens!
What Were They Smoking? Stockard Channing, Sally Field and John Travolta’s future wife, Kelly Preston .
This is a job for Supergirl? Helen Slater.
Also, for inexplicable reasons, women better known (like Emma, Gilda and Tracey) for comedy: Mary Gross, Goldie Hawn, Catherine O’Hara. Plus Seinfeld's darling Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, who had no wish to upset her fan-base. (She waited a further ten years to risk that by Lewinskying Richard Benjamin in Woody Allen’s disagreeable, self-hating Deconstructing Harry, 1996.
This is not to suggest they couldn’t hack the roles, but their names above or even below the title would have transmitted all the wrong signals about the movie, leading to such mind-boggling fantasies of, say (and I promise you all these comics were also considered for Dan)… Dan Aykroyd shagging Mary, Chevy Chase schtumping Goldie, Steve Martin banging Catherine Bill Murray - or even little Rick Moranis - getting legs over Mary Tyler Moore!
Then again, at times, Fatal Attraction was hilarious. Bunny-boiling, anyone?
Play Alex For Me… In 2008, poor Idris Elba took over from the TV-committed LL Cool J in Obsessed, 2008, described by Rolling Stone critic Peter Travers as a crazy ass awful, stenchcloud Fatal Attraction. Ali Larter had the Glenn Close role of the psycho stalker. Everyone swore it had nothing to do with Adrian Lyne’s film (not bought the rights, you see), yet Beyoncé Knowles as Big Dris’ wife was also called Beth - until someonenoticed and changed it to Sharon.