‘FATAL ATTRACTION’ INFAMOUS ‘BUNNY BOILER’ TURNS 30
Glenn Close was mesmerized when she read the script for
1987’s Fatal Attraction and her now-infamous character, Alex Forrest.
Then she got to the part where Alex takes insidious revenge on Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas), the family man with whom she’s had a torrid weekend affair. The Gallagher family’s bunny ends up boiling on a stovetop.
“That script was so compelling, as I was reading it, it kind of changed my chemistry. But then the bunny-boiling part really stuck out, and I was like, ‘Oh, my God, that’s kind of over the top,’ ” Close, 70, recalls. “But I couldn’t get that out of my mind.”
Thank you, Ms. Close, because shocked audiences will never get that scene out of their minds, either.
Director Adrian Lyne’s outrageous R-rated morality tale blew up at the box office, spending eight weeks at No. 1 after its release on Sept. 18, 1987. It garnered critical acclaim and six Oscar nominations (including best picture and a best-actress nomination for Close) and remains No.
28 on the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 greatest American thrillers, right behind
1977’s Star Wars.
And no one ever forgets that scene where Gallagher’s unsuspecting wife Beth (Anne Archer) finds the family’s pet in a steaming pot — made all the more intense by Lyne’s recent revelation that an actual boiled rabbit was used in filming.
“It’s the one moment that caused people to tell their friends to see Fatal Attraction when it was in theaters,” says Dave Karger, special correspondent for film site IMDb.com. “And 30 years lat- er, it’s still the most iconic crazyperson movie scene of all time.”
Close, whose burgeoning career prior to Fatal Attraction was dominated by nurturing roles in hits such as The Big Chill, The Natural and The World According to Garp, reached superstar heights and film immortality with that character and moment. Alex Forrest ranks No. 7 on AFI’s list of top all-time villains. “Bunny boiler” appears in numerous dictionaries, defined as an “emotionally unstable” and “dangerously vengeful” person.
Before the bunny boils, Alex is seen peering into the Gallagher household from the bushes. She becomes physically ill watching Dan give his young daughter the rabbit as a gift, which triggers the devious act.
“I took the script to several different psychologists and said, ‘Please tell me if this behavior is possible?’ ” says Close. And the answer? “Oh, yeah.”
Close’s theory on Alex’s backstory: She was a victim of incest in childhood, prompting her mental instability.
“And it was that exploration that made me really love Alex and allowed me to have great empathy with her,” says Close. “I have never thought of her as one of the great evil characters in the 20th century.”
The actress saw firsthand how well the explosive chemistry between Douglas’ Dan and Close’s Alex held up when she showed the film at Indiana University in 2015 as part of the college’s guest filmmaker lecture series.
“They were blown away by it. I hope somehow generation after generation will be introduced to this powerful film that touches on very important issues,” says Close, “And the fact that ‘bunny boiler’ is in the dictionary now, I just think it’s great.”
Alex Forrest (Glenn Close) has a breakdown in Fatal Attraction, now celebrating its 30th anniversary on digital HD at iTunes.
Before Alex (Close) boiled that bunny, she had an intense weekend of passion and food with Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas).