“This couldn’t get made today” is a common refrain about media from the past that doesn’t reflect today’s progressive values. In some cases, it’s probably true, although the constant churn of reboots suggests that a lot of movies could get made—or at least remade—today. One such example is Fatal Attraction, which is being retooled as a television series on Paramount+. And while, in star Lizzy Caplan’s words, original director Adrian Lyne’s version might not fly today, the new version will improve upon the formula by presenting Alex Forrest as a “more three-dimensional human being.”
“The [original] movie still is great. It’s still scary, and makes you ask big questions, but there were two different endings and there was one ending that Glenn Close preferred, but they ended up going for another one,” Caplan says in a new profile for Grazia magazine. “Glenn Close was sort of fighting to protect her character Alex’s fragile mental illness that she was dealing with. None of that was really reflected in the film.”
In the version of Fatal Attraction that was released, Dan (Michael Douglas) and his wife Beth (Anne Archer) kill Alex after she broke into their house and attacked Beth. In the version Close preferred, Alex killed herself to frame Dan for her murder. That version reportedly didn’t test well with audiences, who wanted the film to “terminate the bitch with extreme prejudice” according to studio exec Ned Tannen.
“Audiences saw it very much through a 1980s perspective—this amazing guy makes one mistake and now this horrible woman is trying to ruin his life,” Caplan says now. She sees a deeper story in the character of Alex, “especially because Glenn Close is doing such subtle, careful work that if you’re looking for it, it’s all there.”
As for the updated version, “It really shows how far we have come,” in Caplan’s opinion. “I don’t think that we’ve arrived at any finish line in terms of everything that’s happened with #MeToo and what that set in motion. But the idea that you could never make the 1980s version of this now, shows some degree of progress. I think when they’re at their best, that’s what the reboot would do and hopefully our show does that.”