Actress Glenn Close regrets her portrayal of a knife-wielding stalker in Fatal Attraction as she is convinced her most famous film role contributed to the stigmatisation of mental health issues.
The star won an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of disturbed Alex Forrest, a woman who ruthlessly pursues a married man, played by Michael Douglas, and even boils his family’s pet rabbit after he ends their affair in the 1987 thriller.
The movie gave rise to the unflattering term ‘bunny boiler’ for an unstable woman, and Close, whose sister and nephew both suffer mental health problems, insists she now wishes she had done things differently.
In an interview with CBS News, the actress, who has become a campaigner for mental health organisations in recent years, says, “I was in Fatal Attraction and that played into the stigma. I would have a different outlook on that character (today). I would read that script totally differently… The astounding thing was that in my research for Fatal Attraction I talked to two psychiatrists. 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.”
Close goes on to insist actors have a responsibility to deal with such issues in a sensitive manner, adding, “I think as public figures, as entertainers, that we have a moral responsibility to only portray characters, that if, if they have disruptive behaviour or behaviour that is negative that it has to be responsibly explained. I really do not believe that we can anymore just say, ‘Oh, let’s make our person somebody mentally ill.’ That’s really easy because that plays into the stigma that people with mental illness are violent and that is not the truth… Most people with mental illness are not violent. 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…”
Close helped found the Bring Change 2 Mind charity and her comments about Fatal Attraction come shortly after she participated in a panel discussion at the National Conference on Mental Health at the White House in Washington, D.C. on Monday (03 Jun 13).