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 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.
George Clooney auditioned five times for Ridley Scott for the part of J.D.
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.
For the more raunchy sex scenes between Brad Pitt and Geena Davis, 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.
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.
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.
With the light starting to fail, and a public holiday looming, Ridley Scott had roughly forty-five minutes to get the final scene just right.
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.
Goldie Hawn and Meryl Streep wanted to make a movie together, and this movie was one of the scripts they considered. Ultimately, they decided to appear in Death Becomes Her (1992) instead.
According to a 2011 Vanity Fair article, it was Michelle Pfeiffer's idea that Ridley Scott direct the film, instead of just simply Executively Producing it.
Michelle Pfeiffer and Jodie Foster were originally chosen for the leads and accepted the roles, but preproduction took too long, and had to drop out due to other commitments.
According to a magazine interview, Screenwriter Callie Khouri based the character of Thelma on her friend, country singer Pam Tillis.
Twenty-four police cars and three helicopters were utilized for the film's climax.
Johnny Depp, Tom Cruise, Scott Baio, Christopher Atkins, Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon, and Alec Baldwin were all considered for the role of J.D.
Ridley Scott watched Badlands (1973) for inspiration for the look of the film.
The trailer presented the film as a comedy.
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).
Seeing the film inspired Tori Amos to write the song "Me and a Gun" about an assault she experienced at the age of twenty-one.
Nicole Kidman auditioned for the role of Thelma.
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 for this movie.
Callie Khouri hoped to cast Holly Hunter and Frances McDormand as the leads.
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.
More than forty people were considered to direct the movie.
When Geena Davis happened to be seated next to George Clooney on a flight over 20 years after the movie's release, during the course of idle conversation George mentioned that he'd read with her for the part of J.D. but she, regretfully, had to admit that she had no recollection of his audition.
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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.
Michael Madsen and Christopher McDonald were initially in talks to play the part of Harlan, the rapist.
Christian Slater was almost cast as J.D., before Brad Pitt got the role.
Callie Khouri wrote her early drafts longhand at home, and then periodically transcribed the pages on a Kaypro computer in her workplace at night.
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 released in 2003.
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.
Kris Kristofferson was offered the part of Jimmy, but he turned it down, and it eventually went to Michael Madsen.
Average Shot Length = ~6.3 seconds. Median Shot Length = ~6.1 seconds.
Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
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.
The revolver that Thelma and Louise use is a Colt Detective Special Nickel 3rd Generation.
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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.
At one point, Richard Donner was actively interested in directing.
Beau Bridges was considered for the part of Hal (the cop), that went to Harvey Keitel.
While she was writing the screenplay, Callie Khouri fantasized about casting Holly Hunter as Thelma and Frances McDormand as Louise.
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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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Cher, Kelly McGillis, and Kathleen Turner were offered the role of Thelma, but turned it down.
The film cast includes three Oscar winners: Susan Sarandon, Geena Davis, and Brad Pitt; and one Oscar nominee: Harvey Keitel.
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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), Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004), and The Hateful Eight (2015). Keitel and Madsen were both in Reservoir Dogs (1992).
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Brad Pitt appeared in this movie, directed by Ridley Scott. Pitt also appeared in True Romance (1993), directed by Ridley's brother, Tony. Hans Zimmer composed the music for both films.
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Included among the American Film Institute's 1998 list of the 400 movies nominated for the Top 100 Greatest American Movies.
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Initially committed to produce, Ridley Scott did not think he should direct. Among the directors he sounded out for the project were his brother, Tony Scott, Joe Pytka, Jeremiah S. Chechik, Chris Menges, Kevin Reynolds, Jonathan Kaplan, Phillip Noyce, Harry Hook, and Bob Rafelson. Richard Donner was keen to shoot the film - he called the script "historic" - but wanted his wife, Lauren Shuler Donner to produce, but Scott was not enthusiastic about that.
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Christopher McDonald, Harvey Keitel, and Susan Sarandon 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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Charlie Sexton: Singer and guitarist fronting the band in the Silver Bullet bar.
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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), Susan Sarandon said that she added the kiss between Louise and Thelma at the end of the movie. Sarandon said that she told co-star Geena Davis (but no one else) that she was going to kiss her.
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, 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.
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 re-worked most of the dialogue 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 this movie to meet a similar fate.
Ridley Scott filmed a longer ending (found on the Special Edition DVD) in which the car is seen plunging into the canyon, with a melancholy B.B. King song playing in the background. He opted for the more upbeat ending with the car frozen in descent and Hans Zimmer's score playing.
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.
Jason Beghe improvised his scene where the State Trooper starts crying when Thelma is holding a gun on him, deciding it would make his character more memorable instead of unemotionally complying with the demands of Thelma and Louise.

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