Is 'Fatal Attraction' Based On a True Story?

The 1987 film Fatal Attraction was a major cultural moment. Glenn Close and Michael Douglas wickedly brought to life the story of Alex Forrest (Close) and Dan Gallagher (Douglas), a pair who engage in a one-night stand despite the fact that Dan is a married man. Alex becomes obsessed with Dan, stalking him to the home where he lives with his wife and child, and the story eventually culminates in tragedy.

The movie is being reimagined as a series on Paramount+, this time around starring Lizzy Caplan and Joshua Jackson in the roles made famous by Close and Douglas. The series also promises to closely examine Alex's mental health as well as lay more blame on Dan for making the decision to cheat in the first place, two things the film failed to do.

Related: Lizzy Caplan Reveals How an Intimacy Coordinator and Psychologist Helped Her Reinvent 'Fatal Attraction' Character

As Jackson told Entertainment Weekly, "The movie really presents him as the victim of circumstance, even though he's the one that committed the act. I thought it was interesting when you really start to examine the type of personality that would take this, from the outside, seemingly perfect life and put it in jeopardy to do something so selfish. Why does a man choose to do this? And then once he's committed the act, in particular, Dan's ego doesn't allow him to take accountability for the thing that he's just done. So he doubles down and creates even more havoc and then doubles down again, creates even more havoc."

Since the film's was first released, many have wondered if the story is based on something that happened in real life. Here is a look at the real-life stories that might have inspired Fatal Attraction.

Is Fatal Attraction based on a true story?

While it's tempting to believe that the events of Fatal Attraction are exactly based on a true story, screenwriter James Dearden told author Steven Galloway that this isn't the case. Rather, the movie and presumably the series were inspired by similar stories, but neither replicates an exact story from start to finish.

Dearden explained, "I'm not going to say [the story] was autobiographical, but everyone has been in situations where they've been harassed. I had an experience where somebody kept calling me, and I got very uncomfortable. And I had a girlfriend who cut her wrists, very theatrically and not to kill herself. Then a good friend of mine was pursued by this beautiful but crazy woman and it was destroying his marriage."

In the end, perhaps what Dearden said is true: there isn't one single case that inspired the events of Fatal Attraction, but rather a series of stories collected from a number of sources that all add up to something very dark and very dangerous.

Next, When and Where to Watch the New Fatal Attraction