Fatal Attraction’s harrowing alternate ending completely changes the film

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Kayleigh Dray
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Rare is the person who hasn’t seen Fatal Attraction (and if you haven’t, be warned: this article contains spoilers). Based on James Dearden's 1980 short film Diversion, the 1987 psychological thriller begins with married lawyer Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas) embarking on an illicit affair with editor Alex Forrest (Glenn Close). Assuming it was a one-time thing, Dan returns home to his wife – but, for Alex, it quickly becomes apparent that their fling meant far more.

She begins lurking outside his office and calling him incessantly. She cuts her wrists in a suicide attempt, in a desperate bid to bind him to her, and later goes on to claim she’s pregnant with his child – and things steadily grow more frightening from there. Alex pours acid on Dan’s car, sends him tapes filled with abusive messages, and kills his daughter’s pet rabbit, putting it on the stove to boil.

It isn’t until the end of the film, when she violently attacks Dan’s wife with a knife, that Alex is stopped in her tracks – and the shocking scene, which sees the obsessive lover shot dead in the family bathtub, has long been hailed as one of the most iconic of all time.

However, Close recently revealed that Fatal Attraction was originally supposed to have a very different ending. Speaking to The New York Times, Close said that in an early version of the script, Alex commits suicide at the end of the film. 

“I loved the original ending,” revealed Close.

“I always felt Alex was more suicidal than psychotic.”

Close went on to explain that she fought tooth and nail to keep ‘her’ ending in the film, but was eventually convinced to reshoot the version that audiences know today.

“Six months after we finished shooting, I got a call that we had to reshoot the ending,” she said. “I fought it for two weeks. It was going to make a character I loved into a murdering psychopath.

“I was in a meeting with Michael, Stanley and Adrian. I was furious! I said to Michael, ‘How would you feel if it were your character?’ He said, ‘Babe, I’m a whore.’”

Close continued: “My friend William Hurt said, ‘You’ve fought your battle, now be a team player.’ So I shot it. And I learned something. It’s what the Greeks do. There’s order in the family; then some element creates chaos; then order has to be restored. It’s restored in tragedies through bloodshed.

“My blood was shed for order to be restored. It was cathartic for the audience.”

The actor – who admitted that she kept the prop knife her character used to such effect in the film – added: “I’m proud my character elicited such a visceral response. Now she’s considered one of the greatest villains ever, and that to me is a mistake.

“I’ve never thought of her as a villain, just in distress.”

It is not the first time that Close has expressed distaste at the film’s ending.

“When I heard that they wanted to make me into basically a psychopath, where I go after someone with a knife rather than somebody who was self-destructive and basically tragic, it was a profound problem for me because I did a lot of research about the character,” Close told Oprah.

“So to be brought back six months later and told, ‘You’re going to totally change that character,’ it was very hard. I think I fought against it for three weeks. I remember we had meetings. I was so mad.”

In a separate interview with CBS News, Close (who has been praised for her mental health activism) has also apologised for the film’s “demonising” portrayal of people suffering from mental illness.

Explaining that she spoke to two psychiatrists in preparation for her role (neither of which said Alex’s behavior – especially the bunny-boiling – was due to mental illness), Close said: “Most people with mental illness are not violent, and most people who commit violent crimes do not have a diagnosed mental illness.

“That is wrong, and it's proven wrong and it is immoral to keep that perpetrated.”

Many who have watched the film have determined that Alex was suffering from Clérambault's syndrome, a form of paranoid delusion based on the false assumption that a figure of admiration is in love with them.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, contact Samaritans here or contact your GP. NHS Choices can also direct you to relevant support and advice services.

Image: Rex Features


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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.