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Was Fatal Attraction Flawed or Fixed by an Alternate Ending?

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When Fatal Attraction came out in 1987, Glenn Close suddenly found herself as a femme fatale sensation. Prior to Fatal Attraction, she had played wholesome, all-American girls — think The Natural or her portrayal of a dissatisfied but low-key yuppie in The Big Chill — and suddenly, she found herself the face of every couple’s nightmares. Although Close had understood from the get-go that her character, Alex, would be controversial, the script changed so significantly over the course of shooting, it became the stuff of her own nightmares.

Speaking to an audience at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2004 on a panel about sex and film, Close explained that in the original script, Alex committed suicide. At early screenings, test audiences hated the character so much that they left theaters outraged, demanding Alex be punished more severely for breaking up Michael Douglas’ on-screen family.

The result was a revenge-heavy rewrite that required two additional weeks of shooting and almost caused Close to walk away from the project. During the Tribeca Talks, she explained that she had come to care deeply for Alex and to see her instability as a mental illness, rather than an overblown expression of lover’s jealousy. For Close, punishing Alex instead of letting her self-destruct, reduced her to little more than the foil for a marriage in trouble. What was once a fully developed portrait of a woman in crisis was diminished to just another evil, slightly unhinged seductress.

Close eventually relented and filmed the new scenes, and went on to play the truly evil Marquise de Merteuil in Dangerous Liaisons — as scripted. But what do you think? Does she have a point, or did Alex get what was coming to her?

For a full schedule of Fatal Attraction on AMC, click here.

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