Glenn Close played one of the most memorable screen villains of the 1980s in the blockbuster "Fatal Attraction," but over twenty-five years later, Close says she now has some serious regrets about the role and her performance.
On Tuesday, Close was in Washington D.C., where she appeared at a White House panel discussing the need for better treatment for and less stigma against people with mental health issues. In an interview afterward, she told CBS News reporter Major Garrett that one of her most famous roles has added to the problem.
"I was in 'Fatal Attraction,' and that played into the stigma," Close said. "I would have a different outlook on that. I would read that script totally differently [today]."
In "Fatal Attraction," Close played Alex Forest, a woman who has a one-night-stand with Dan Gallagher, a married man played by Michael Douglas. While Gallagher has second thoughts in the morning and goes back to his wife, Forest quickly becomes obsessive, and her insistence that Gallagher return her affections soon turns dangerous. While her role earned her an Oscar nomination, Close clearly has second thoughts about the impact of the film.
"The astounding thing was, in my research for 'Fatal Attraction,' I talked to two psychiatrists," Close said. "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 issue of discrimination against the mentally ill hits close to home for Close: Her sister and nephew both live with mental health disorders. With this in mind, Close has founded a nonprofit organization, Bring Change 2 Mind, to confront the issue of discrimination against the mentally ill.
During the White House presentation, Close said, "The amount of talent that we are losing because we are not taking care of people who are suffering from mental illness is catastrophic."
"I think as public figures, as entertainers, that we have a moral responsibility to only portray characters that if they have disruptive behavior, or behavior that is negative, that is has to be responsibly explained," Close said. "I really do not believe that we can any more just say, 'Let's make our bad person somebody mentally ill. That's really easy.' Because that plays into the stigma that [most] people with mental illness are violent. And that is not the truth."
Close took a moment to cite one recent film that she believes has made a positive difference. "I think popular culture is hugely powerful in this issue," Close said. "I think of Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, who were in 'Silver Linings Playbook.' And I met the mother of a young thirty-year-old man who had bi-polar disorder, who never could talk about it until he saw that movie. See, you never know who you’re talking to, but the idea that there is a piece of wonderful popular entertainment with people living with mental illness, how they dealt with it, and actually had a happy outcome, was huge!"