As they celebrate the 25th anniversary of their groundbreaking film, Thelma & Louise, Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon reflect on feminism, Hollywood, and taking a leap.
It’s hard to believe it’s been 25 years since Thelma and Louise hopped into that 1966 Ford Thunderbird convertible and set out on a vacation that would turn them into outlaws and, in the process, solidify their sisterhood. At the time, the movie proved incredibly divisive, with some heralding it as a feminist masterpiece and others slamming it as glorifying violence.
And they may have taken a fatal dive off a cliff, but they’ve remained in our hearts forever. This is inspiration pure!
“It could have been a tiny, little film. It was really framed in a heroic vista. It was a beautiful, beautiful place to be working. I felt like John Wayne. And we didn’t shoot at the Grand Canyon—it was in Utah, in Moab. The joke for a while was that there was only going to be a voice-over of us because of these amazing shots they were getting all the time. We were in such a testosterone-infused atmosphere, as Ridley [Scott, the director] was adored by the crew. That car is still there at the bottom of the cliff, by the way. They couldn’t get it out.
For Thelma & Louise’s 25th anniversary, we want to do a tour on campuses because there’s this huge movement now to expose rape and make sure people are accountable. You don’t have to go off a cliff. I’m curious about having that conversation.
Where would they be now, if they’d lived? Well, Thelma’s definitely not with her husband anymore! One would only hope she found Brad [Pitt] again. [Laughs.] Maybe Louise became a lesbian. That would be fabulous. Maybe she continued her trip and ended up running an Airbnb. I certainly could drive better by the end of the movie, so maybe I became a driver of some sort”.
“You know, I think we actually threw three cars off the cliff. We had five cars altogether. The first time they shot it, the car took off, and then it tipped sideways. And, of course, we had dummies that looked like us. Not to mention stunt doubles and photo doubles—there were Thelmas and Louises everywhere.
We really didn’t know the movie was going to strike a nerve; nobody had any idea. It was very shocking, the reaction we got. When the movie came out, there was negative stuff like, “It’s so man-hating,” and “Oh, God, this is not the solution.” There was all this talk about how it was so violent—and this was after Lethal Weapon came out!
But the most liberating thing about filming Thelma & Louise was hanging around with Susan. She changed my life. The movie changed my life. She always gets embarrassed, the way I talk about her. She’s so self-possessed—she knows who she is and what she thinks. She moves through the world in such an integrated and beautiful way. I remember telling Susan once, “I’m never going to be like you. You’re always going to be ahead of me. I’m never going to catch up.”