‘Fatal Attraction’ EPs on the Story’s New Perspective and the Rabbit

May 10, 2023

Inspired by the 1980s movie, the Paramount+ original series Fatal Attraction is a deep dive into marriage and the effect that infidelity can have, as it ripples through a family. In the present day, Daniel Gallagher (Joshua Jackson) is reentering the world after serving 15 years in prison for the murder of Alexandra Forrest (Lizzy Caplan), figuring out where he fits in with work and family, and is focused on proving his innocence. At the same time, we see when Dan and Alex first met in 2008 and how their brief affair threatened to destroy everything around them, as it all spiraled out of control.

During this interview with Collider, showrunner Alexandra Cunningham, executive producer Kevin J. Hynes, and director Silver Tree talked about the opportunity to take a different approach to this story, why it’s just not possible to watch the original movie without seeing it differently now, the new perspective they wanted to bring, diving into the criminal justice of it all, how they wanted to represent the flashbacks versus the present day, figuring out the best way to incorporate the rabbit, and the decision to use the same font for the title.
Collider: When the possibility of doing a Fatal Attraction TV series comes your way, it seems like the natural instinct would be to quickly run in the opposite direction and not mess with what was already done. Alexandra, what convinced you otherwise? Was it the opportunity to approach it differently and take a different point of view on it?

ALEXANDRA CUNNINGHAM: Yeah. My initial reaction was, “That is the craziest thing I’ve ever heard. Whatever idiot decides to do that deserves all the arrows.” But then, I talked to some people and said, “Can you believe they’re asking me to do this?” And they all went, “It seems like there might be some opportunities there. Did you already say no?” So, I went away and watched the movie again, and of course, it’s an amazing movie and it also raises a lot of questions. Lizzy [Caplan] has talked about how it’s actually not possible to watch the original movie with the brain that anyone had at the time. I think of it like the Psycho shower scene, where you look at that and you’re like, “That’s silly. You never see the knife.” But people were vomiting and passing out in the theater when they saw that, originally. So, you can’t watch the movie the same way.

People just don’t bring the same horizons to it, which means that there are new things to say about it, that people would be ready to hear. One of those things, for me, is about the emotional trauma that the young daughter is processing. Is anyone helping her with that? How is that gonna manifest? And then, Alex Forrest is more than a career woman who’s collapsing under pressure. Clearly, there’s a lot being brought to this encounter, from a neurological standpoint and a psychological standpoint. That’s the research Glenn Close did. That’s the way she performed it, even though it wasn’t on the page. That’s someone wrestling with mental health. And so, that is a thing that interests me, as does that processing of trauma and the fact that people are ready to have conversations about mental health now that aren’t an immediate demonization of whoever you’re trying to talk about. And then, I started to realize that I probably was going to try to do it.

Image via Paramount+

Kevin, as a producer, I would imagine that remakes, reimaginings, revisitings, and reboots come your way fairly frequently, these days. What made this feel like something to explore again, and in a different way?

KEVIN J. HYNES: Look, if you bring me a project that Alex Cunningham is involved in, I’m gonna do it, no matter what it is. If it’s a new project of watching paint dry, I’m gonna definitely do it because I’ll do anything with her. For me, as a former prosecutor and former criminal defense attorney, being able to dive into the criminal justice of it all, when Alex and I talked about making Dan a prosecutor, I was excited about that, as soon as that idea came up. I always stay in my lane. My career is always about crime or politics or lawyer stuff, and this was right in my lane, when Alex agreed to do it, so I was like, “Sure, let’s go.”

Silver, as the director of the first three episodes, what did you want to establish with the look and feel of this, that really could carry throughout the entire series?

SILVER TREE: I was actually really excited the concept of flashbacks and turning them around. I wanted the past to feel very alive and malleable, so the camera work reflects that. The camera is gliding, and it feels like we might be able to see behind any corner. Josh was so great at inhabiting that character, where you could just believe that he’d be walking down the hall and people would just be handing him everything that he could ever would wish for. We also dropped the camera down and made him seem just a little larger than life in that environment, and we had a very specific color palette for that. That world is very earth tones, like olives and taupes. The present day is very prescriptive, in that the audience is only allowed to see what we’re giving them. The frames are very tight and controlled. The color palette is cool, with blues and grays. Part of that is emotionally that the color has been drained out of these people’s lives. And then, I also just wanted the audience to have a very clear road map of when they’re in the past and when they’re in the present because often we needed to go back and forth very quickly. It you do that in a close up, for instance, you need to be able to very quickly understand what time period you’re in, beyond just the makeup and the posture of the actors. Hopefully, that works.

Image via Paramount+

What were the conversations like, involving the role the bunny would play, this time around? Did you have a lot of conversations about how to include it, but to do it, in a different way?

CUNNINGHAM: Obviously, when we started talking about it, if you’re going into this with the goal of humanizing someone’s struggle with mental health and wanting people to at least empathize with her, maybe not throughout because she does do you know some extreme things, you’re going to go on a roller coaster of empathizing with her, and then being angry with her, and then empathizing with her again. For better or worse in our culture, if that’s what you’re trying to do, you cannot have that person purposely kill a small child’s pet. Whether it’s a rabbit or a moose doesn’t matter, you’re not gonna be allowed to do that, and then keep going on a journey of empathy with someone. But you can’t do Fatal Attraction without the rabbit, so that was the line we had to walk. The rabbit needs to be present, so we wanted it to be present in a more Alice in Wonderland way. That rabbit belongs in that building, but Dan does not. Dan should not be there. Dan is coming into the rabbit’s domain, when he goes into Alex’s building. So, it was having our cake and eating it too, in a certain way.

I also really appreciated the nod to the movie, in the decision to use the same title font for the series.

CUNNINGHAM: Our production designer and her department, when we were coming up with the font that you use in-house during production, designed the versions. They were like, “We really love the original and don’t wanna change it,” and we all agreed. When something is right, it’s right. All along, any opportunity to change the font and make it its own thing, we all just reacted like, “Why? Why would we do that? It’s terrific.” So, I’m glad that you noticed that because no one else has said that.

Fatal Attraction is available to stream at Paramount+.

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