On the great rolling lawn of Glenn Close’s house in Westchester County, N.Y., late on a spring afternoon, she and Michael Douglas are standing side by side posing for photos and holding a white rabbit. All right, it’s a somewhat obvious prop. It’s also extremely appropriate. In 1987’s Fatal Attraction, Close terrorizes Douglas by boiling his family’s pet bunny on the kitchen stove — the most memorable scene in an unforgettable psychological thriller. But today there is laughter. Close and Douglas are longtime friends and neighbors. Less than a year after going through treatment for cancer, he’s in great spirits, and occasionally whispers dirty jokes in her ear. And Close loves a good joke. She also (irony alert) loves animals. Her two dogs have the run of the place, and she is very gentle with the rabbit. Close and Douglas recall the day they first encountered each other in Los Angeles in the mid-’80s: ”We met at her audition,” says Douglas. ”She came in, in character, and knocked our socks off.”
”I had flown out from New York,” says Close. ”I didn’t know what to wear and I went to a store — Neiman Marcus or something. My hair was long and crazy. I’m very bad at doing my hair. I got so nervous, I took a little bit of a Valium. I walked in and the first thing I saw was a video camera, which is terrifying, and behind the video camera in the corner was Michael Douglas. I just said, ‘Well, just let it all go wild.”’
”She kicked ass,” says Douglas.
At several moments during our photo shoot, Close actually slips into her Fatal Attraction character for the camera. She does it consciously and effortlessly, with the smallest tilt of her head, a shift in her eyes, and an eerie stillness. A quarter century after the movie’s release, the actress can still summon Alex Forrest in a second — the unsettling look; the paper cut of a smile; the crazy, coiled desperation of one of the greatest screen villains ever created.
Even today, Fatal Attraction, directed by Adrian Lyne, holds up. But in 1987, the story had a deafening cultural resonance. It began with a simple indiscretion: Dan, the happily married Manhattan attorney played by Douglas, is lured into a one-night stand by Close’s predatory book editor, and a series of horrifying consequences ensue. It was the married man’s worst nightmare. It was a cautionary tale of sexual carelessness in the early years of the AIDS epidemic. It was a post-sexual revolution movie that cheered for the nuclear family. The film grossed more than $320 million worldwide and received six Oscar nominations, including Best Picture.