The new Paramount+ series has the same basic plot line as Adrian Lyne‘s classic film: a married man named Dan Gallagher (Joshua Jackson) has an affair with Alex Forrest (Lizzy Caplan), who can’t accept that their relationship isn’t going to move forward. The show, however, employs multiple timelines, giving viewers a wider window into the aftermath of Dan’s actions.
“Our story feels so different,” Caplan told Screen Rant in April 2023. “The cat we’re trying to skin is so different than the one that the film did that hopefully people will get the fun nods and the clear inspiration but see it as its own.”
Jackson, for his part, wanted to make sure that his take on Fatal Attraction emphasized the fact that Dan isn’t an innocent patsy seduced by a scheming woman. “The movie really presents him as the victim of circumstance, even though he’s the one that committed the act,” the Dawson’s Creek alum told Entertainment Weekly in March 2023. “I thought it was interesting when you really start to examine the type of personality that would take this, from the outside, seemingly perfect life and put it in jeopardy to do something so selfish. Why does a man choose to do this?”
Both of the show’s leads went into the project aware that they had very big shoes to fill. The original Fatal Attraction was nominated for six Oscars, including Best Actress for Close and Best Supporting Actress for Anne Archer, who played Dan’s wife, Beth.
“It’s an iconic movie. And unfortunately for us, it’s also an excellent movie,” Jackson told Screen Rant. “It’s so much better to be retelling something that’s mediocre. It’s not mediocre, but that story is also very much of its time. There is an obvious opening, when you watch the movie again, to delve into the Alex character but also to have some repercussions or accountability for the Dan character.”
As Caplan pointed out in the same interview, audiences have long held sympathy for Dan, but he’s just as culpable in the affair as Alex (even though he doesn’t boil a bunny). “I went back and watched the original and was like, ‘Holy s–t, we’ve come a long way,'” Jackson explained to Variety in April 2023. “The movie is incredible, but the gender dynamics are impossible to wrap your head around.”
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