Amanda Peet: New 'Fatal Attraction' offers complex characters, not tired tropes

Amanda Peet's "Fatal Attraction" wraps up Sunday. Photo courtesy of Paramount+
1 of 5 | Amanda Peet's "Fatal Attraction" wraps up Sunday. Photo courtesy of Paramount+

NEW YORK, May 28 (UPI) -- Amanda Peet says her new version of Fatal Attraction retains the basic story of the classic 1987 thriller while reflecting modern sensibilities about gender roles, relationships and mental illness.

Created by Alexandra Cunningham, the Paramount+ series -- wrapping up Sunday -- is an eight-part reimagining of the film about a romantic obsession that ends in violence.


The series spans 15 years and stars Lizzy Caplan as Alex Forrest, a woman infatuated with her married colleague Daniel Gallagher after a brief romantic affair.

When she disappears leaving behind incriminating evidence, Dan is convicted of her apparent murder and sentenced to more than a decade behind bars.

Peet plays Dan's house flipper wife Beth and Alyssa Jirrels plays their adult daughter Ellen whose life is upended when Dan gets out of prison, wants to clear his name and re-establish ties with his family.


"Alexandra used the movie from 1987 as a jumping-off point," Peet told UPI in a recent Zoom interview.

"One of the things she wanted to expand on was the wife role and maybe make sure she didn't seem as much as a suburban housewife trope figure. That was really fun for me."

Peet recalled what a cultural touchstone the original movie, which starred Glenn Close and Michael Douglas, was at the time it was released.

"For my generation, in our 20s, we would use the Glenn Close character as a joke if you were dating someone who became a bit suffocating or stalkery or clingy, then you might say, 'Oh, is she a bunny boiler?'" Peet said.

"One of the problems of the movie is that [Alex Forrest] is villainized and reduced to this psycho-villain," she added. "Dan isn't really accountable for having participated in this or having seduced her, so I think Alexandra wanted to explore that and undo those qualities from the original movie."

Ellen is also expanded into a more complex character in the series.

"Ellen, in the movie, is a child who is kind of cast aside in a very 1980s way and there is a lot going on with her and she has seen an insane amount and nobody's checking in and, so, my character is the nuanced [version]," Jirrels said. "Alex really honored what would happen if a kid went through that situation."


Not surprisingly, these circumstances have impacted Ellen's relationship with both of her parents.

"Beth is the only parent that Ellen has had that has stuck through," Jirrels said.

"There might be flaws, but there is a presence there. She's done the best that she can, so I think there is a sense of trust, but also I think she saw her mother go through a lot, so that adds another layer."

When Dan comes back into Ellen and Beth's lives, he is more concerned with getting his career and reputation back than he is in seeing how they are doing or making amends for his actions.

"He's angry, but he put himself in that situation," Jirrels said. "It's such complicated feelings. They don't want to shut the door completely, but they don't want to invite the past in."

Peet added, "I think everyone has a lot of ambivalence."

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