Paramount+ features a series that is the reimagining of ‘Fatal Attraction’. While it shares a lot with the iconic original film, it is also a critic of the entitlement of the 80’s and a piece that shows how we get affected by midlife crisis.
‘Fatal Attraction’ is fun while it permeates personality disorders, isolation, fathers and daughters, and murder. It's about how some people just can't take the win. It's about self-image and what we'll do to protect it and also what happens when someone doesn't have one. With Joshua Jackson in Michael Douglas’ character, that doesn’t look really like their predecessor.
Douglas was the golden boy to play against unstable women and we show it in Basic Instinct and Fatal Attraction, in the new series adaptation of the movie the creators tried to revision the 1987 original telling the story of a married man's affair with a troubled female colleague who is less crazy and more enlightened with the times we lived. Big fan of Rosalia’s music and Spain, the actor talked to us about his approach to this new reinvention of ‘Fatal Attraction’.
Q: Before we start talking about the show, can you tell us if you like Spanish culture?
A: Yes, of course. I find myself open minded to any experience and that includes being open minded to other cultural experiences. I love the food from Spain, Mexico, Argentina, I love their music. In fact, I am a big fan of Rosalia.
Q: Do you have any Spanish favorite authors?
A: On the top of my head, I remember reading Bolaño. I like fantasy books and books with characters that show big personalities and Bolaño writes very well about his characters.
Q: Are you able to speak Spanish?
A: I’ve been in Spain a few times and I can move around but I’m not fluent.
Q: How did you approach your character? Did you watch it again?
A: Yes. I don't remember the first time I saw the film, but I rewatched it, obviously, a couple of times right before we started and then during shooting. And I think the thing that's honestly the most interesting about it is I find it very difficult to watch the film in the way that I originally watched it, which is that the '80s audience sees this as a very binary, black, and white, villain-versus-hero story. It's just the?lens in which we view things now has altered so dramatically from the '80s that so much of the work I think is just it's almost like inherent now, like done for us, in that we are poised to ask more questions about characters. And in this case, it's not an hour-and-a-half-long film. It's an eight-hour series. And, yes, it's a remake, but it's really more of a jumping off point, I think. You'll be familiar with the characters, but what we are trying to do is ask the questions that would have been impossible to ask in a film just because we wouldn't have had the time, and, also, they just weren't questions that people cared to ask back then.
Q: Can you talk about playing the duality of this guy present and past and how he's changed?
A: There were certainly challenges just given the nature of production life, sometimes jumping between the timelines. But given that there was such a large gap in time between 2008 and 2023 and the man is so very, very different post-incarceration and having had to sit with the repercussions of his actions for 15 years, when you are playing just slightly different versions of the same.? I've done other shows that have broken timelines or multiple perspectives?-- I seem to be making a habit of this, actually,?and when the characters are similar, it's more difficult to keep track of the different flavors. But, in this, the Dan that comes out?and it was really important to me?he's not the same man, right? The process, the experience of being incarcerated, the weight of guilt and responsibility that he has in having destroyed his own family and the massive negative effects for both himself and everybody that he touched and loved and, then, also the dehumanization of having been inside the American carceral system for 15 years, that he goes in as a privileged white man of a certain esteem and comes out as an ex-con. And nobody gives a fuck about him, and there is no prospect for him. And there's no space for him, and there's no family for him. And there's no employment for him and so stripped of all the things that allowed him to have the ego that made him commit his original sin, who is that guy as he tries to rebuild himself from not just where he was, but from zero, from nothing. He is a blank space so far as society is concerned. So, the individual day-to-day stuff, yeah, you have to make sure that you pay attention to the details, but he walks differently. He talks differently. He takes up less space. He doesn't speak with as much bass in his voice or any authority at all, and so once we were in the pocket of that?-- and I thank Silver for holding my hands through the beginnings of it?-- it wasn't that hard to toggle back and forth because there's such a big difference between the two men.
Q: Is it possible to see the movie from 1987 without hesitation?
A: I think it is amazing to watch the movie now. And you watch it for Alex. I watched it for Dan. The lack of responsibility, culpability, guilt that Dan feels, he really is just, like, “Uh, babe, can you believe it? This lady, I mean, we had a little noise, and now she's, like, going crazy,” or whatever. And he just goes about his business like?it's just hard to watch now and be, like, “Wow, we were just in a very different place”. Like, we all, without -- they don't have to explain it to us. We all just were, like, “Yeah, he's the hero”.
Q: Do you think he is the victim?
A: There are many victims and also, he's the victim here, and he needs to just, like, murder this woman, and then everything will be okay. But even though everything does feel so different when you watch the movie, it's a really good litmus test to see how different it does feel, but we are primed as audiences to just side with the guy. It took us a couple thousand years of work, but we are here. (Laughter.)
Q: And, therefore, there's a lot of victims?
A: And, therefore, there's a lot of victims. And one of the interesting things, to me, about Dan -- and you see this not so much in the first three, but you see it as our story progresses forward,?he makes, from the outside,?right? A sequence of very stupid decisions. Because he is unwilling to ever stop the train of stupid decisions and say, “My bad. I'm responsible. I did this, and I have to take the hit,” and because he's unwilling to do that at any step along the way? and this is very human, and I won't say you guys have ever done stuff like that, but I've certainly done stuff like that? it just continues to snowball, and his ego is incapable of accepting that he is not a paragon of good faith and a man of good standing and yada yada, and he's willing to destroy his marriage to deeply damage his daughter, to be unspeakably cruel to his mistress. There's a pathology to his ego that I think is explored inside of this that we don't really get into in the film partially because of the time and space. There's just not enough time for it and partially because, in 1987, you are just, like, “Oh this poor guy.”
Q: How does the background that you have as a lawyer inform how you are going to get redemption?
A: Well, from a mechanistic standpoint, it gives him a toehold back in society, but I actually don't think that?Dan's redemption is not ultimately, to me, about the externalities of what happens with Alex or the reason why he's incarcerated. To me, the only redemption is through his family, right? The man has gone through this entire process without truly taking responsibility, and while the repercussions of his act spiral out of control and he's not directly responsible for each iteration as it gets worse and worse and worse, he did set the process in motion. And through his inability to take responsibility, to be culpable, to stand inside of that place and take the ego hit and say, “I'm not the good guy,” right? “I am not the thing that I want to believe in myself,” he's willing to destroy his marriage. He's willing to cause, potentially, irreparable damage to both his wife and his daughter. And I think, to me, the emotional culmination of the story is not about his guilt or innocence. It's about his acceptance of his responsibility. So, his being a prosecutor and his having a legal background certainly gives, like, a mechanistic avenue for him to find a way, a path post-incarceration; but, to me, the emotional through line is not really about whether or not the court,?like, the law thinks he's guilty or innocent. It's about actually taking responsibility now 15 years later for the damage that he's created, something that he wasn't willing to do with Alex. And to pick up on what you were saying, Amanda, I do just want to center the white man again. It makes me uncomfortable when we have all of this lady talk. But I do think it's good and I love that you put this in, Alex, that Dan's mental health is also questionable, right? He is a man who is not being honest with himself and has not really come to terms with some of the darker places inside of his ego, and he allows his fragility and privilege to drive him down a path that causes immense damage to the people around him. So, while he's not diagnosed, I do think that there is maybe not equal valence, but there is at least weight given to the reality that it's not just that Alex has issues and bumped into a person. It's that Alex has issues, and Dan has issues, and they met at exactly the wrong moment to create this toxic soup together, right? That's part of his culpability. We introduce other characters who you don't have this massive reaction with. It is Dan's responsibility that he's the wrong mix, right? He's the nitrogen. She's the glycerin. And they meet at this moment, and it's everything that he does post their trust that creates this explosive scenario.
By María Estévez