‘Fatal Attraction’: Glenn Close Hated the Ending So Much She Got Into a Shouting Match

Fatal Attraction may have been a box office smash and an Oscar-nominated film, but that doesn’t mean that it was easy on the set. A psychological thriller, this label didn’t just apply to what was happening in front of the camera.

The filmmakers and cast were always on edge behind the scenes, clashing with each other over the smallest details. When Glenn Close didn’t like the direction that the ending was going, she got into a shouting match

What is ‘Fatal Attraction’ about?

Glenn Close, Michael Douglas and Anne Archer on the set of Fatal Attraction directed by British Adrian Lyne.
Glenn Close, Michael Douglas and Anne Archer on the set of Fatal Attraction | Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

Fatal Attraction could best be described as an erotic thriller about Michael Douglas’s Alex Dan Gallagher and his love triangle between two women, played by Anne Archer and Glenn Close. What starts as an affair with Close’s Alex Forrest quickly becomes something far more intense.

When Gallagher attempts to end his affair, Forrest has an all-out meltdown. What ensues is a film that goes beyond the standard trappings of a thriller and dives deep into the character.

From James Dearden’s script to Adrian Lyne’s direction and the performances throughout, Fatal Attraction was one of the most successful films of 1987 from both a critical standpoint and a financial one. 

Much of this praise has to do with the performances. From Douglas’s performance as an embattled husband who struggles with his infidelity to Close’s maniacal turn as his extra-marital romantic partner, the film made bigger stars out of already successful actors and stars out of those who were lesser-known. One of the film’s most memorable moments, however, is its climax. 

Glenn Close is the star of ‘Fatal Attraction’

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The film posits Close’s Alex as a psychotic woman who cannot fathom life without a man like Douglas. She inserts herself not only into his work life., where they first met but into his personal life.

When Douglas wants to call things off, she takes a turn for the worse and spends the rest of the movie playing manipulative games, hoping that he will leave his family and spend his life with her. Nailing the ending, however, was a chore. 

The film ends with Alex wielding a knife at Dan’s house and trying to kill his wife so that he’ll spend the rest of his life with her. An argument ensues that culminates with Dan dunking her in the bath. Presuming Alex dead, he starts to struggle with her until his wife shoots her, and the movie ends with their embrace. The ending is a classic, although Close (rightfully) had issues with it at the time of filming. 

The ending of ‘Fatal Attraction’

With such an intense plot, it’s not surprising that a cast full of actors would lack patience during filming. However, sometimes this tension boiled over.

Douglas famously lost his cool when one scene took too long to film. However, when it came to the ending,

Close hated the turn her character took and saw it as a cop-out. When Douglas defended it, Close and he got into a shouting match. Close recalled this. They spoke about this with The Hollywood Reporter

Said Douglas: “I had a big talk to her about the theater, and how you play the show to out-of-town audiences, and then you adjust. The argument was, ‘It may not be the best for your character, but it’s best for the movie.'”

Close rejected that out of hand: “I remember screaming at Michael, ‘How would you feel if they did this to your character?’ He said, ‘Babe, I’m a whore.’ [Finally] I called William Hurt, and he said, ‘You’ve made your point. Now it’s your responsibility to buck up and just do it.’ “

Eventually, Close got some of what she wanted in the ending but ultimately failed to see the point. Audiences, on the other hand, loved it.

Sometimes it’s easy to assume that an actor’s most lauded role is their favorite, but this is not the case. Close showed this on the set of Fatal Attraction. By eventually submitting, however, she revealed that she was willing to put aside her issues for the betterment of the film.