Fatal Attraction Interview with Actors Toby Huss, Reno Wilson, and Brian Goodman

Fatal Attraction Interview with Actors Toby Huss, Reno Wilson, and Brian Goodman

Reevaluating the decisions individuals made in the past while also embracing and better understanding how those choices impact overall society is a vital journey that’s needed to improve people’s mindsets and relationships. That process is prevalent to both the iconic main characters of the acclaimed Fatal Attraction film, as well as the way culture viewed antagonist Alexandra Forrest’s emotional state upon its release in 1987.

The psychological thriller, which received six Oscar nominations, including one for Best Actress for Glenn Close, has now been adapted into an eight-episode television miniseries by Paramount+. Lizzy Caplan takes over the role of Alex on the drama show, which chronicles the events that led to her mysterious death through flashbacks.

Joshua Jackson steps into the role of Daniel Gallagher from Michael Douglas, who starred alongside Close in the movie. In the present day, Jackson’s version of the character, as well as his family and former colleagues, reconsider what really happened in the past that led to Alex’s murder, and if he was truly responsible for her death.

The television series is a deep dive reimagining of the film, through the lens of privilege, personality disorders, family dynamics and murder. The Fatal Attraction show begins in the present day by chronicling how after serving 15 years in prison for Alex’s murder, Daniel is paroled.

Upon his release, Daniel’s determined to reconnecting with his family, especially his daughter, (Alyssa Jirrels), who’s now in her early 20s and is still contending with the emotional trauma of her father being sent to prison. He’s also intent on proving his innocence in Alex’s murder case.

Through flashbacks, the duo is shown to have met in 2008, while they were both working in California’s court system. Dan’s world begins to unravel after they have a brief affair, which ultimately threatens to destroy the life he’s built with his wife, Beth (Amanda Peet), and their young daughter.

In addition to Jackson, Peet and Jirrels, the small screen adaptation of Fatal Attraction also stars Toby Huss as Mike Gerard, an investigator who works alongside Dan in the District Attorney’s office. Reno Wilson portrays Earl Booker, the detective who relentlessly worked to build a case against Dan in Alex’s murder case and eventually arrested him. Brian Goodman plays Arthur Tomlinson, who’s a supportive friend to Beth after her husband was arrested and sent to prison.

Huss, Wilson and Goodman generously took the time recently to participate in a roundtable interview over Zoom. The actors discussed how they approached starring on the Fatal Attraction series, on which Alexandra Cunningham served as the showrunner.

Q: What are your characters’ perspectives on Dan? Earl seems to be the one out of all three of your characters to truly understand what Dan is really like.

RW: You’re exactly right. Earl Booker is a detective, and is dealing with these people on the streets he has to arrest. Then he has to go beg the Deputy District Attorney to try his cases after he risks life and limb. Meanwhile, Dan’s safely in court wearing a suit, and still has a chip on his shoulder.

Q: Can you all describe your characters and how they interact with the Gallagher family?

TH: My character is Mike Gerard, who worked with Dan Gallagher in the District Attorney’s office. Mike’s an investigator.

When Dan goes away to jail, Mike’s in touch with Dan’s wife and daughter. So Mike has always been in Dan’s life, making sure that his family is okay. By the time Dan gets out, Mike’s back with him, believing that he’s 100 percent innocent.

RW: I play Det. Earl Booker. He arrests people and brings them to the District Attorney’s office, begging them to try my cases.

Earl give the office the opportunity to arrest and investigate Dan Gallagher, which gives Earl great joy.

BG: I play Arthur Tomlinson, and my character and his wife were dear friends with Beth. They spent a lot of time together, and Arthur and his wife were very supportive of the troubling situation Beth was going through, which true friends do.

Q: All three of your characters both benefit and suffer in various ways, depending on their relationship with the (Gallagher) family. What are the degradation or positive outcomes that your characters experience over time throughout the season?

TH: I think my character, Mike Gerard, Dan’s old friend, sees the pain that Dan going to prison is also causing his daughter and wife pain. It’s a head shaker for Mike, as he doesn’t get it.

So you see Mike’s relationship with Dan crumble. Then when Dan’s released, you see them build that trust back up between them.

RW: For Earl, he did his job by putting Dan away, which again, gave him great joy. When he’s then visited by Mike and Dan, Earl is retired and off the job.

So he’s spending time in his garden and with his wife. So he’s irritated that these two guys are trying to put a smear on his record.

BG: Arthur was there for his friend’s wife and daughter, which I think was helpful to my character when he loses his wife after she becomes sick.

Q: Toby, how much of Mike’s relationship with Dan is loyalty to Dan’s father, who he used to work with, and how much is loyalty to Dan himself?

TH: It’s a tough one to say because I think Mike and Dan are better friends now, especially after he gets out of prison. It’s a real friendship that’s based on building an elemental trust and having each other’s backs.

So it has nothing to do with Dan’s father anymore; it’s just these two guys, trying to write the wrong.

Q: Fatal Attraction is all about secrets, lies and cover-ups. So what was it like playing characters who are definitely keeping secrets from each other, as well as other characters and the audience?

BG: It’s like everyday life!

TH: You can’t play a secret when you’re playing it; you have to play the reality of the relationship with that person. But the show’s writing is so good, and everything’s all there.

When you’re playing the reality of it, even when you know the reality is a lie, you’re exposed in it because the audience usually knows what’s happening.

RW: That’s a great point. I hate when I read scripts and everybody says how they feel – human beings don’t do that. Everybody usually holds back their true feelings in some way, and don’t necessarily say what they’re thinking.

BG: That’s certainly true…People cover the subtext of what’s really going on. (Turns to Reno.) I really like the way you covered the detective. (Toby’s) character of Mike was also really interesting to me because he’s pretty straightforward, so you knew what he was thinking.

Q: Reno, your scenes with Joshua Jackson really stand out; Earl told Dan that he had a singular focus to convict him, and you remind him who he truly is and what he did. What was it like working with Joshua?

RW: Josh is cool, and getting to work with him was so much fun. Off set, he’s one of the coolest guys.

Kevin Hynes (who served as an executive producer on Fatal Attraction, after he worked as an Assistant District Attorney in the New York County District Attorney’s Office in the early 1990s) was very instrumental on working on creating Earl with me and how these cases unfold.

Earl Booker’s the kind of guy who loves what he does so much that you almost can’t trust him because he’s taking everything in. He’s checking out your tendencies and always listening to what’s going on, even if it doesn’t look like he is. He’s also always watching you, and inevitably, will use everything he sees and hears against you.

That’s what you’re seeing a lot of between Dan and Earl. Earl’s making Dan feel comfortable, even when he shouldn’t be.

Q: How did you all prepare to play your characters on the series? Did you all do any particular research while you preparing to play your characters?

TH: I didn’t do a lot of research, to be honest, as it was all in the text. It was all about this character having a job, including convincing people to tell the truth, and following it through.

BG: I think there are sides of ourselves that are always different; there are sides to myself that I don’t even like. But there’s a decent side of me that exists that lent itself to this part more than others.

RW: What I really enjoyed about this project is that I got to sit with the scripts for the episodes a lot longer than some of the other actors. We blocked shot the episodes, so I had time to sit with the words a lot longer. That made the work a little bit more layered.

It was kind of like a play when we got to the set. A lot of time when you do TV shows, after you get the script, you don’t have a lot of time to sit with the words. But on this show, I had so much time with the words that I could just let the interactions between the characters naturally flow.

The first three episodes of Fatal Attraction are now playing on Paramount+ in the U.S. The remaining episodes of the eight-episode season will be available to stream weekly on Sundays. The final two episodes will be available to stream on Sunday, May 28.

Check out more of Karen Benardello’s articles.

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