She is one of Hollywood’s most notorious female characters — a ‘crazed harpy’ who boils her ex-lover’s family rabbit after he ditches her to return to his wife after a weekend affair.
But the creator of Fatal Attraction’s Alex Forrest — played by Glenn Close in the 1987 blockbuster — says the character will be seen in a far more sympathetic light when a stage adaptation of the story opens in London’s West End later this month.
Screenwriter James Dearden said he regarded it as a ‘dubious honour’ that the phrase ‘bunny-boiler’ had entered the English language as slang for an unhinged woman — and claimed he was forced to rewrite the character after pressure from studio bosses.
His original plan was for the unfortunate rabbit to be grilled on a rotisserie, but added: ‘Somehow I don’t think bunny broiler has quite the same ring!’
Dearden sees the stage version ‘as an opportunity to redress some of the wrongs we may, however unintentionally, have done to Alex’. He said: ‘I am not going to claim that she is suddenly Miss Normal, nor am I suggesting that dear little floppy-eared creatures are no longer an endangered species, but I can reveal that they will not be scraping Alex off the bathroom tiles at the end of the play.
‘Alex is emphatically not a monster — she is a sad, tragic, lonely woman, holding down a tough job in a tough, unforgiving city.’
Dearden explained why Alex’s character was changed and how his original story was warped into an attack on feminism and single, career women.
He said: ‘Hollywood likes its leading men heroic, so gradually Michael Douglas’s character Dan is made more blameless while Alex turns more and more into the villain.
‘The film was seen by the studio as a parable about AIDS, a critique of the permissive society or an attack on feminism in general and single, career women — all of which could not have been further from my mind.’
He said Close was initially reluctant to take on the changes to Alex’s character and that the cast of the forthcoming play — which features English actress Natascha McElhone as Alex — needed convincing that it would not follow the film’s moral outlook.
He said: ‘When Natascha agreed to play Alex on stage for this production it was on the strict understanding — which we are more than happy to give – that this time around Alex will not be demonised.’ The play also stars English actor Mark Bazeley as Dan and Kristin Davis as his wife.
Fatal Attraction opens at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket, on March 25.