Thelma & Louise (1991) Poster


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The sequence where Darryl slips and falls over on the builder's supplies as he is leaving for work was unscripted, as actor Christopher McDonald genuinely lost his footing. Despite this he remained in character, yelling at the workmen as he got into the car and drove away. As he states on the DVD commentary, director Ridley Scott liked the result so much, he kept it in the film.
The scene where Louise grabs Thelma's headphones off her and scares her wasn't planned. In the DVD's audio commentary, Geena Davis commented that she was supposed to get up when Susan Sarandon called her from the car, but she had the volume on her walkman up too high and didn't hear her cue so Susan came over to get her.
Then struggling actor George Clooney auditioned five times for Ridley Scott for the part of J.D. that went to Brad Pitt.
In the scene where the tanker truck is shot and blown up, the reactions of Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis were supposed to be genuine. Rather than filming separate reaction shots, director Ridley Scott rigged the tanker to blow up during the take, in order to get authentic expressions of surprise from the two leads. Despite this, they were so astonished while watching it that they forgot to actually react, so Scott had to film their reactions again.
A total of five identical 1966 Thunderbird convertibles were used throughout the shoot: one 'star car', one camera car, one back-up car, and two stunt cars.
For the more raunchy sex scenes between Brad Pitt and Geena Davis, director Ridley Scott had assumed that a body double would be needed for Geena. Shortly after he'd begun auditioning prospective doubles, Davis learned of Scott's intentions and insisted that no doubles were needed in those steamy scenes.
Ridley Scott was reportedly so amazed with Hans Zimmer's score that he created a main title sequence (with Zimmer's music over it), rather than giving the main credits at the end as it was primarily planned.
It took producers so long to find someone for the role of Louise that Geena Davis had to sign a contract stating that the producers could cast her in either role if need be.
Jason Beghe improvised his scene where the State Trooper starts crying when Thelma's holding a gun on him, deciding it would make his character more memorable instead of merely and unemotionally complying with Thelma and Louise's demands.
With the light starting to fail and a public holiday looming, Ridley Scott had roughly 45 minutes to get the final scene just right.
Goldie Hawn and Meryl Streep wanted to make a movie together and Thelma & Louise was one of the scripts they considered. Ultimately, they decided to star in Death Becomes Her (1992) instead.
According to the DVD commentary, Susan Sarandon explained that when Louise gets out of the car to throw up, egg whites were used for the vomit, and she added that they are also used for love scenes in movies.
According to a 2011 Vanity Fair article, it was Michelle Pfeiffer's idea that Ridley Scott direct the film instead of just simply executive produce it.
Michelle Pfeiffer and Jodie Foster were originally chosen for the leads and accepted the roles, but preproduction took too long and both actresses had to drop out due to other commitments.
Johnny Depp, Tom Cruise, Scott Baio, Christopher Atkins, Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon and Alec Baldwin were all considered for the role of J.D.
24 police cars and 3 helicopters were utilized for the film's climax.
According to a magazine interview, screenwriter Callie Khouri based the character of Thelma on her friend, country singer Pam Tillis.
Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis were both nominated for Best Actress, but lost to Jodie Foster in The Silence of the Lambs (1991). Ridley Scott was nominated for Best Director, but lost to Jonathan Demme, also for The Silence of the Lambs (1991). Callie Khouri won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, while Ted Tally won Best Adapted Screenplay, once again for The Silence of the Lambs (1991). Ridley Scott went on to direct the sequel Hannibal (2001), while Harvey Keitel would appear in the prequel, Red Dragon (2002).
Ridley Scott watched Terrence Malick's Badlands (1973) for inspiration for the look of the film.
Nicole Kidman auditioned for the role of Thelma.
The trailer presented the film as a comedy.
Seeing the film inspired Tori Amos to write the song "Me and a Gun" about an assault she experienced at the age of 21.
More than 40 people were considered to direct the movie.
Brad Pitt had previously lost the role of a character named J.D. in the movie Heathers (1988) to Christian Slater. He got his revenge when he stole the role from Slater of another J.D. for Thelma & Louise.
Callie Khouri hoped to cast Holly Hunter and Frances McDormand as Thelma and Louise.
In an interesting twist of fate, Brad Pitt lost out on the role of Brian McCaffrey in Backdraft (1991) to William Baldwin, who then had to be released from his contract to play the small part of J. D. in Thelma & Louise (1991) that was re-cast with Brad Pitt.
Christian Slater was almost cast as J.D., before Brad Pitt got the role.
Callie Khouri's original plan for the film was to direct it herself, on a very low budget and with a documentary feel to it.
Callie Khouri wrote her early drafts longhand at home, and then periodically transcribed the pages on a Kaypro computer in her workplace at night.
Both Michael Madsen and Christopher McDonald were initially in talks to play the part of Harlan, the rapist.
Catherine Keener was cast in the role of Investigator Hal Slocumb's wife. Her one and only scene was cut from the final film. This deleted scene can be found on the special edition DVD of the film released in 2003 from MGM Home Entertainment.
Kris Kristofferson was offered the part of 'Jimmy', but he turned it down and it eventually went to Michael Madsen.
Callie Khouri first conceived the project in 1979. She was hired by Ridley Scott for a project called "Thelma & Louise" around 1980. Ridley Scott was going to produce, and Khouri was appointed as director. They were turned down by many studios, until MGM purchased the rights in 1981. But Khouri wasn't ready to direct the film, so Scott was going to direct himself. The movie was originally announced in 1981 for a 1983 release. Originally, Scott and Khouri wanted Natalie Wood for Thelma and Tuesday Weld as Louise. However, Wood drowned in 1981 and Weld quickly dropped out from the project, so this would never come to pass. A number of filmmakers were attached to Khouri's script including Brian De Palma, John Carpenter and Sidney Lumet. By 1988, Ridley Scott spoke of casting Mia Farrow, Lily Tomlin, Candice Bergen, Tuesday Weld, Meryl Streep, Liza Minnelli, Jessica Lange, Isabella Rossellini, or Kim Cattrall for the role of Thelma; Vanessa Redgrave, Glenn Close, Mary Steenburgen, Kim Basinger, Ellen Barkin, Goldie Hawn, Debra Winger, Anjelica Huston, Sigourney Weaver or Lorraine Bracco would be considered for the role of Louise; Dustin Hoffman, Al Pacino, Jack Nicholson, Robert De Niro, Steve Martin, David Bowie, Tim Curry, Richard Gere, Pierce Brosnan or James Woods could be Hal; Kevin Costner, Bruce Willis, Rick Moranis or Chevy Chase would play Jimmy; Jon Voight, Willem Dafoe or John Travolta would be Max; and Christopher Atkins would be J.D.
Average Shot Length = ~6.3 seconds. Median Shot Length = ~6.1 seconds.
This is one of only four films to receive two Academy Award nominations for Best Actress. In this instance, Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon were so nominated. The other three films were All About Eve (1950) for which Anne Baxter and Bette Davis were nominated, Suddenly, Last Summer (1959) for which Katharine Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor were nominated, Terms of Endearment (1983) for which Shirley MacLaine and Debra Winger were nominated. Of the actresses in question, MacLaine is the only one to win the Academy Award for Best Actress for the relevant performance.
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Thelma's date of birth according to the police broadcast is November 27, 1956. Screenwriter Callie Khouri was born on November 27, 1957.
Cher, Kelly McGillis and Kathleen Turner were offered the role of Thelma but turned it down.
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At one point Richard Donner was actively interested in directing.
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Debra Winger, Rene Russo, Kelly McGillis, Kim Basinger, Catherine O'Hara and Diane Keaton were all considered to play Louise.
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Beau Bridges was considered for the part of 'Hal' (the cop) that went to Harvey Keitel.
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Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
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The film cast includes three Oscar winners: Susan Sarandon, Geena Davis and Brad Pitt; and one Oscar nominee: Harvey Keitel.
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The revolver that both Thelma and Louise use throughout is a Colt Detective Special Nickel 3rd Generation.
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Harvey Keitel, Michael Madsen, and Brad Pitt would go on to work with Quentin Tarantino in various projects. Pitt worked with Tarantino in Inglourious Basterds (2009) and appeared in True Romance (1993), which was written by Tarantino. Keitel worked with Tarantino in Pulp Fiction (1994) and From Dusk Till Dawn (1996). Madsen worked with Tarantino in Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003) and Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004). Keitel and Madsen were both in Reservoir Dogs (1992).
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Christopher McDonald, Harvey Keitel and Susan Sarandon later appeared in different Adam Sandler films: McDonald in Happy Gilmore (1996), Keitel in Little Nicky (2000) and Sarandon in That's My Boy (2012).
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Brad Pitt starred in Thelma & Louise (1991), directed by Ridley Scott. Pitt also starred in True Romance (1993), directed by Ridley's brother, Tony Scott. Hans Zimmer composed the music for both films.
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The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

At one point during production, Ridley Scott considered changing the ending to having Thelma survive after being pushed out of the car by Louise right before she drives off the cliff.
In the documentary The Celluloid Closet (1995) (based on the Vito Russo book of the same name), Susan Sarandon said that she added the kiss between Louise and Thelma at the end of the movie. Sarandon said that she told costar Geena Davis (but no one else) that she was going to kiss her.
Ridley Scott is very receptive to ideas from cast and crew members on his films, and used many suggestions from Susan Sarandon during production. Some ideas of Sarandon's that made the final cut of the film: the visual of Louise packing her shoes in plastic bags while prepping for the lady's weekend getaway in the mountains; the scene where Louise exchanges her jewelry for the old man's hat; and the scene where Louise stops the car in the desert at night and takes a personal moment looking at the stars while Thelma sleeps in the car. That last scene idea took half the night to light. Sarandon and her longtime partner Tim Robbins reworked most of the dialog in the sequence between Louise and her boyfriend Jimmy at the hotel in Oklahoma City. Originally that scene called for Louise and Jimmy to make love and conduct an impromptu mock wedding ceremony. Sarandon felt that having sex would be the last thing Louise would be interested in doing at that point in the story and told Scott that if she performed the sequence as written that they would have to include a scene where Louise would wig out as a result. And prior to signing on to do the film, Scott gave Sarandon his word that he would not change the ending of the movie. She had just experienced that on her last movie, White Palace (1990), with the original, ambiguous ending being scrapped in favor of a more upbeat one and did not want "Thelma & Louise" to meet a similar fate.
The studio was very resistant to the downbeat ending and were very keen to find an alternative. As they were unable to come up with a better conclusion, they eventually conceded.
Ridley Scott filmed a longer ending (found on the Special Edition DVD) in which we see the car plunge into the canyon, with a melancholy B.B. King song playing in the background. Instead he opted for a more upbeat ending with the car frozen in ascent and Hans Zimmer's score playing.

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