"I've always liked relationship pieces. And obviously sexuality is part of that," Adrian Lyne tells PEOPLE

By Nigel Smith
April 23, 2020 02:53 PM
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Paramount/ Everett; Todd Williamson/Getty

Few directors have steamed up screens quite like Adrian Lyne.

For over four decades in Hollywood, the British filmmaker, 79, has provoked audiences with racy films like Indecent Proposal, Unfaithful, Flashdance and 9 ½ Weeks. He’s back at it with his first film in nearly 20 years, Deep Water, which stars Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas as a couple in an open marriage harboring dark secrets.

Among his most celebrated films is Fatal Attraction, the hit thriller starring Michael Douglas and Glenn Close that shocked millions when it came out in 1987 and earned six Oscar nominations, including one for Lyne. With the film made newly available for purchase on Blu-ray as part of the Paramount Presents collection, Lyne spoke with PEOPLE about the its enduring popularity.

Did you have a feeling Fatal Attraction would go on to become a classic?

Well I live in France quite a lot, in the South of France in Provence. And I started reading it sitting on the stairs, I remember. My wife was in bed and I started reading it and it was just a terrific page turner. And I went and I woke her up.

I went into the bedroom and I remember saying, “I I don’t screw this up, this is a terrific movie.” I really felt that it was a movie that the people would be interested to go and see and talk about. Because I’ve always liked films that sort of create discussion. And I kind of felt that this would.

Sexual thrillers were so popular in ’80s and ’90s. You’re returning to the genre with your upcoming adaption of Deep Water. What brought you back?

Well, it’s a marvelous novel. It’s a Patricia Highsmith novel and she’s just such a terrific writer. And it’s a strange and it’s a bizarre story. I was sort of fascinated by it and hopefully the public will be as well.

I mean, I think they’re kind of maybe tired of conventional stuff, and this is by no means conventional.

What appeals to you about these types of movies?

I’ve always liked relationship pieces. I’ve always liked the small picture really, rather than the big one. And obviously sexuality is part of that.

Fatal Attraction

I sort of I can admire other movies like Matrix or something like that, but I just wouldn’t want to make that sort of a movie necessarily. I wouldn’t want to make Batman. Although I can admire it when somebody else does it.

Do you think a film like Fatal Attraction could be made today?

I’m not sure. I’m not sure you’d be able to get the studio to make it. I think they might be wary of it. Certainly they wouldn’t make it for the budget that I was lucky enough to get for it, which wasn’t enormous. But I think the only way probably to make that movie would be as an independent movie now.

Take me back to Glenn Close’s audition.

Well, I was sort of wary of her doing it. I’d seen The World According to Garp and movies like that and the Larry Kasdan movie, what was it called, that’s a good one, where she always played the sweetheart. [Lyne is referring to The Big Chill] She never really had an edge.

But when I saw her working with Michael, it was a revelation really. Just their chemistry. And so I had a good feeling that it was going to work. And she wanted to do it very much. She’s very anxious to do it and everybody was, as I say, a little bit cynical about whether she was right for it.

But then when she came in and read. And actresses don’t like to read for things. And it’s stupid really because that’s the only way that you can. Otherwise you’re picking a name out out of a phone book. You’re guessing.

Fatal Attraction

And so, it was much less of a guess when I saw her working with Michael and had time to work with him.

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What is your approach to filming sex scenes?

I’ve always sort of been a little bit like a cheerleader. It’s always been a very small crew, so it was just me and the operator and the cameraman and that’s it.

But I’ve always thought that it must be very tough being an actor, having to sort of go through that in total silence and really not knowing whether they look good. They want to know that their a– looks good because they are very sort of in a state of insecurity really. I try and help them through it. If I see something that I really like I’ll say, “Do it. That’s great, do it again, do it again. That’s marvelous.”

And then you feel, you sense them growing in confidence. So that’s sort of the way I work at it. It seems to work. As I say, I’m frightened of them going at it in total silence which must be awful really for them. Not knowing whether they’re being good or not.

Then in those days they could have a couple of drinks. Now you can’t. I mean I remember with Michael and Glenn, they had a glass of champagne or two. That always was helpful. Then it was more like a policy. But you can’t do that now. That’s a thing of the past.