Glenn Close: 'If I remade Fatal Attraction, I'd pay more attention to mental illness'
GLENN Close has said that she regrets increasing the 'stigma' surrounding mental illness with her role in the film 'Fatal Attraction'.
Her chillingly convincing portrayal of a vengeful ex-lover made Fatal Attraction one of the most successful films of the 1980s and earned her a best actress nomination at the Academy Awards.
Glenn Close’s character even created in popular culture the mocking term “bunny boiler” to describe a jealous and apparently unstable mistress after the scene in which she boiled the pet rabbit of the family of her former lover.
But the actress has now said that she regrets feeding a "stigma" around mental illness by playing Alex Forrest, an unstable publishing executive who attempts to kill herself before becoming homicidal.
If given the role today "I would have a different outlook on that character," Close said in an interview this week. "I would read that script totally differently".
Close added that actors "have a moral responsibility" to explain the complexities of mental illness rather than portraying it as the simple cause of deranged and violent behaviour seen in many films.
"Most people with mental illness are not violent," she said. "And most people who commit violent crimes do not have a diagnosed mental illness.
"That is wrong, and it's proven wrong and it is immoral to keep that perpetrated."
In the 1987 psychological thriller, Close's character enjoys a brief fling with Dan Gallagher, a married businessman played by Michael Douglas, who quickly makes clear he does not intend to continue the relationship.
When Gallagher rebuffs her attempts to rekindle the affair, Forrest cuts her own wrists, kidnaps Gallagher's daughter and attempts to kill his wife.
Analysts have said that the character appears to have an obsessive condition known as de Clérambault's syndrome, or erotomania, in which the sufferer is deluded into believing that someone is in love with him or her.
Yet Close said that this was not discussed in detail during the film's production.
"The astounding thing was that in my research for Fatal Attraction I talked to two psychiatrists," she told CBS News. "Never did a mental disorder come up. Never did the possibility of that come up. That, of course, would be the first thing I would think of now."
The 66-year-old actress has become an advocate for better treatment and understanding of mental health problems since witnessing two family members suffering from different mental illnesses.
Her sister, Jessie Close, suffers from bipolar disorder, while her nephew Calen Pick, has schizo-affective disorder. Close has previously lamented her family's response to Jessie's condition.
"I think my parents said, well she just has to kind of pull up her socks and get back to work, and all that kind of thing," she told National Public Radio last year. "And it sounds almost hard-hearted when you talk about it now, but we were so clueless."
Now, however, "we have learned as a family that if you have the courage to start talking about it and if you have the love and support of your friends and family in doing that, you are taking a huge step towards your own recovery," she said.
Close made her remarks after attending a summit on mental illness at the White House in Washington. President Barack Obama said he hoped to help bring a sensitive topic "out of the shadows".
"Too many Americans who struggle with mental health illnesses are still suffering in silence, rather than seeking help," Mr Obama said.
He claimed that his overhaul of the US health care system would improve treatment for mental illness.
Stressing that most people with mental illness do not commit violent crimes, White House officials said the conference was partially a response to last December's primary school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, when Adam Lanza, who suffered from an autism-related illness, killed 27 people.
"If there's anybody out there who's listening – if you're struggling, seek help," Mr Obama said.
"If you know somebody who is struggling, help them reach out."
Jon Swaine, Telegraph.co.uk