THR has an excerpt from the book that details the drama to get the film made. First, everyone turned down the project. "Everyone passed," Lansing said. "I begged John Carpenter ["Halloween"]. And it wasn't just him. I begged everyone."
She finally lined up Brian De Palma, but when the director clashed with star Michael Douglas, he insisted it was him or the actor. "It was one of those come-to-Jesus moments," Lansing recalled. "De Palma was the element that got us a green light, but Michael had been on the movie for two years, when everybody else rejected us. We said, 'We're sticking with Michael.'"
"Flashdance" director Adrian Lyne signed on instead. Now they just had to find a leading lady. Among those considered were Barbara Hershey, Isabelle Adjani, Debra Winger, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Melanie Griffith, not to mention "Feud" co-stars Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange. Also in the running, Kirstie Alley, who shared the phone calls an obsessed stalker made to her then-husband Parker Stevenson: The calls made the movie, Alley didn't.
Finally Glenn Close landed the role, although the debate continued about whether she was "sexy enough."
The last bit of tricky casting was the family's pet rabbit, which Close's character famously leaves boiling on the stove as a grotesque warning. The rabbit was all too real and purchased from a butcher for realism's sake.
"We tried to take its innards out to make it real," said Lyne. "But then it didn't have any heft. It was just like a little bit of skin. So we had to boil it with all of its innards, and the stench was beyond belief. That probably helped Anne [Archer] because the smell was so bad." As if we weren't already traumatized enough by that scene!
You probably already know how a new ending -- in which Archer's cheated-on wife shoots and kills Close's psycho stalker -- had to be shot after test audiences hated the ending where Close frames Douglas for her murder.
Close was as opposed to the new ending as Lansing was but, in the end, was talked into it. The reshoot was also plagued with issues: "We went back to [the house used in the film], and other people had bought it, so we had to reconstruct it just the way it was," wrote Lansing. "It cost a fortune. Glenn had the worst of it, by far. She was dunked in the bath more than 50 times, and her eyes and nose became infected."
For her considerable troubles, Close received an Oscar nomination, as did Archer.
As for the rabbit, well, Rest In Peace.
"Leading Lady: Sherry Lansing and the Making of a Hollywood Groundbreaker" by Stephen Galloway is out April 25.