Director Adrian Lyne on why Fatal Attraction has never left the zeitgeist

FanSided talked to director Adrian Lyne about the 1987 classic on the occasion of its digital remastering and Blu-ray release.

One of the most chilling dramatic thrillers of the 1980s is getting new life Tuesday, April 21, when director Adrian Lyne’s Fatal Attraction is released on Blu-ray as part of the Paramount Home Entertainment’s new “Paramount Presents” line.

The 1987 film, which earned six Oscar nominations including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress for Glenn Close and Best Supporting Actress for Anne Archer, has been digitally remastered under Lyne’s supervision, and the acclaimed filmmaker participates in a new bonus feature on the disc as well.

For the uninitiated, Fatal Attraction stars Michael Douglas as Dan Gallagher, a successful lawyer who has a weekend-long affair with Alex Forrest (Close) while his loving wife (Archer) and daughter (Ellen Latzen) are away for the weekend. But what seemed to be a fleeting affair soon turns into a nightmare for Dan, when Alex begins to stalk him and his family, and eventually traumatizing them in the legendary and disturbing stovetop rabbit scene.

Lyne, 79, talked about the classic with FanSided by phone from New York City, where he’s been tucked away in his apartment for weeks and staying safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read our Fatal Attraction interview with director Adrian Lyne

FanSided (Tim Lammers): Adrian, you will be proud to know that the only time in my moviegoing life when I saw an entire packed house of moviegoers collectively jump out of their seats was in the final scene in Fatal Attraction when Glenn Close burst out of the tub. What an incredible thing to experience. Did you get to experience a similar moment when screening the film for audiences?

Adrian Lyne: I used to watch the movie sometimes in Westwood [a neighborhood in Los Angeles], standing on the side near the screen. One of the ticket takers told me, “You should come and watch it with the audience.” I saw that same thing with this guy – people leaping into each other’s laps and stuff. I’ve got a recording of it, actually, of the audience going nuts, which was fun.

FanSided: Now I’m sure there’s no scientific evidence of it – no Gallup polls taken – but if I were to take an educated guess, I would say incidents of infidelity dropped dramatically during the theatrical run of the film, where it scared people into not cheating.

I remember being at the theater and friends of mine would come out to see it and leave the theater and say to me, “Well, thanks for doing that for us.” They were pissed off because they knew their wives would be watching them a little closer. (Laughs)

FanSided: Of course, it’s been nearly 33 years since the release of the film, and it feels just as fresh as the day it came out. It must be a surreal feeling knowing that you directed a film that really did hit the cultural zeitgeist – and stayed there. I can’t name too many films that have that sort of staying power.

Yes. And people still talk about things like “bunny boilers” and Fatal Attraction has become part of the language a little bit. Now and then I also hear, “I won’t be ignored.” (Laughing) It’s fun that people haven’t forgotten about the film.

FanSided: While the context of the film is still fresh and relevant, something that can hurt any film in terms of its timeliness is the actual presentation of it, because it can look dated. But that’s why it’s really important that filmmakers like you to step up and participate in the digital remastering process to keep that presentation as sharp as possible.

I see what you’re saying, and I guess I never really thought about it that way, but it is really important. I spent quite a lot of time on the color and the sound. I hadn’t realized how primitive it was then compared to now. It’s interesting, really, how things have changed, technically.

FanSided: Do you get an itch when you revisit a film of yours after so many years to tinker with it a bit in terms of the editing? Or, maybe in the case of Fatal Attraction, cut in that alternate ending where Alex took her own life? Or, was it always your feeling that the Anne Archer ending with the revolver was the ending that you wanted – and what the audience needed for closure?

When we previewed the movie, it was with the other ending [with Glenn], but we – me and producers Stanley Jaffe and Sherry Lansing – felt it was a little bit flat at the end and we found what is probably a much better ending. The ending we went with was better dramatically and emotionally, really. The only reason to change the ending was to make it dramatically better. I had hoped the other ending was going to work better, but it just didn’t.

FanSided: Revisiting the film during the remastering process, was there anything that you noticed about Michael Douglas, Glenn Close’s or Anne Archer’s performances that you didn’t notice before? Something amazing that for one reason or another eluded you?

I don’t know if people noticed it because it was a wide shot, but in Dan’s office when Alex turns up, and she wants him to go to the opera with him and he won’t go because he says it’s over, essentially – she hugs him. When they’re hugging and you can see her face over his shoulder and he can’t see it, she really had this expression of utter heartbreak. You can really sense that she loved this guy. That always knocks my socks off, really, when I see it because it wasn’t a close up, but a wide shot. It was just a heartbreaker. Every time I see it I think, “F***, Glenn was good.”

Fatal Attraction is available April 21 on collectible Blu-ray