‘Fatal Attraction’s Alyssa Jirrels Breaks Down Shocking Ellen Twist: ‘Something Has Been Unleashed’ (Exclusive)
'Fatal Attraction' saved its most jaw-dropping twist for the last moments of the season 1 finale. Alyssa Jirrels explains that shocking ending and more.
Image Credit: Paramount+
The past has a way of repeating itself, and that’s exactly what’s happening in Fatal Attraction. The final moments of the finale, available now on Paramount+, revealed a stunning twist: Ellen is stalking Macksey, her psychology professor and thesis advisor. Alex Forrest is dead and gone, but Dan and Beth are going to have their hands full with Ellen.
HollywoodLife spoke EXCLUSIVELY with Alyssa Jirrels about this unexpected twist and how Ellen’s past has directly led to this. She recognizes that Alex had a “huge impact” on Ellen. Not just from what happened with Dan, but from Alex’s warning to not trust anyone. Alyssa opens up about the wild ending in our Q&A.Alyssa Jirrels as Ellen Gallagher. (Paramount+)
When you read that final scene with Ellen for the first time, what was going through your head?
Alyssa Jirrels: I didn’t get any info on it in the original script, but then I had a Zoom with Alex [Cunningham] and Silver [Tree], who are the two showrunner-directors. It was like a month before we started shooting. Alex was like, I’m going to basically talk at you for like 15 minutes, and you’re just going to hear a lot of information. She was like, so the whole twist of the show is that Ellen is stalking Macksey. I was sitting right here and fell in my chair. So unexpected, so different than anything I’d had a certain idea of what it was going to be in my head and what her sort of diagnosis was anyway given everything that she faced. But I never would have guessed that. I was floored, but it’s a really interesting thing to try to incorporate into a person’s psyche, you know? It gave me a lot to chew on.
There’s that scene with younger Ellen and Alex shown beforehand. Walk me through that moment and how the past bleeds into the present in a sense with Ellen stalking Macksey.
Alyssa Jirrels: It obviously is a bit of a repeating a past thing. I think Alex had a huge impact on her. But in my eyes, the thing that had more of an impact on her in that conversation was you can’t really trust anybody. You always need to leave before somebody else does. It’s interesting because it impacts in a fairly indirect but also direct way. I don’t think she’s trying to imitate Alex. I don’t think that’s what it is. I think that the stalking and the obsession, it’s a manifestation of a lot of the daddy issues really to me. I think it’s also an older man, so that plays into it.
It seems to be a manifestation of all these complicated elements of her younger life and shows how much impact things that happen when we’re children can have on us as adults.
Alyssa Jirrels: To me, I always ingested it as if you look at that happening to a little kid, all of that going on, and then somebody telling you you can’t trust anybody, and you feel like the only person who’s being honest with you is the person who’s causing all the issues, your brain would kind of short circuit a little bit. I think there was an element of she just took in all of it and then went, okay, and maybe thought she was going to blank it all out. And then it’s sort of replaying itself in its own way as she gets older, but I don’t think she really correlates it all together. I think it’s just her dad coming back into her life is maybe a catalyst for that behavior to be illuminated. In my eyes, she’s been doing it for a while. Weirdly, she probably would have done it her whole life without telling anybody. That’s the don’t trust thing. She’s not open with anyone. She’s just going to keep doing it.
This was the perfect twist for the show. It’s such an interesting take on how we deal with trauma and how mental health affects us as adults. On top of all that, Ellen had her dad come back into her life. Everything was happening simultaneously.
Alyssa Jirrels: It’s such a shock to the system. I think it makes her think, but it makes her evaluate and makes her make decisions that maybe she wouldn’t have made. To me, her revealing herself to Macksey at the very end is directly impacted by her dad and her having a moment of real reconciliation. The scene that is directly prior to that he’s just sort of admitted his shortcomings. He’s just sort of listened to her. She’s seen him redeem himself in a certain way, so there’s just an element of Ellen gets a happy ending, in my opinion. She sees that happen and feels like, hey, fate is on my side. I’m going to reveal myself to the love of my life. In her own warped way, it all plays into each other.
When her father finally shed that skin, she felt like she could, too.
Alyssa Jirrels: Exactly. Her way of shedding skin is revealing herself to have been hiding in the house of the person that she’s stalking. That’s what she wants. I think a lot of what Ellen is working with from a trauma perspective is feeling like she has to hide in some way and feeling like she has to not share. She doesn’t have the ability to be open. She’s very together from the outside. To be able to reveal yourself to that person, that’s a catalyst. A lot more could happen after that. It’s an opening of sorts.
How do you think Ellen would react if she knew the truth about who killed Alex?
Alyssa Jirrels: Great question. I think it’d be hard. It would be a hard thing. Wow, that’s such a good question. There would have to be some anger because for that person to have raised her and sort of come in and not been able to come forward and save her dad… I think it’s such a mishmash of things. It’s more daddy issues compounded. I think it would be a sense of anger but also maybe understanding too. I feel like she and Arthur are both outsiders in their own ways. It would be a mishmash of emotions.
Talk about something that’s re-traumatizing.
Alyssa Jirrels: I remember Alex saying this, what has your gut intuition told you about Arthur? There could be a sense of knowing that it has happened. There can be a sense of intuition about maybe this guy doesn’t have something entirely, there’s something more here. It’s a mishmash.
This type of reveal could really set somebody like Ellen off and turn her world upside down. Given what has already happened and if she found this out, I feel like that’s a lot of weight for any one person to carry.
Alyssa Jirrels: It’s a lot of weight for any one person to carry. But I think after where she ended up, the way that she deals with it is going to be really different than how she dealt with her dad coming back in her life. Something has been unleashed. There’s a weight that’s off her shoulders. So I feel like however her methods of dealing with it would be a lot more overt and a lot more dangerous in my eyes.
Ellen and her father had that vulnerable conversation in the finale. How do you think Ellen views their relationship and where they stand?
Alyssa Jirrels: She’s seen him get kicked in the a** so many times that it’s just kind of like, okay, I don’t need to punish you anymore. I don’t need to keep you at the same arm’s length anymore. I think there’s always been a deep love for him. There always, always was. But she needed to put him through her little intellectual tests and keep him at arm’s length. So I feel like it would be like, okay, you’ve proven yourself to me, but then also once he’s secured the next thing that would happen in my eyes would be that she would feel the freedom to feel more of the anger that she actually felt at him. It would just be a more secure relationship that probably had more depth and more emotion, but that’s good because that’s what a parent is.
The ending leaves things wide open for a season 2. What would you really be excited to dive into if that happens?
Alyssa Jirrels: I’m sure Alex, if that were to happen, she has insane ideas in her own head. I don’t want to rewrite anything in my way, but I do think it would be exciting to explore a more dangerous Ellen because I think she deserves to have her time in the sun. She’s been lurking in the shadows for a while. I think that if she were to have her dad back, she’d be a different girl. There’s something that’s been healed in a weird, warped way, and so it would allow everything that’s kind of nasty and fun to come out.