Thelma & Louise


Character: JD
Release Date: 24 May 1991
Directed By: Ridley Scott
Written By: Callie Khouri
Genre: Adventure/Crime/Drama/Thriller
Tagline: Somebody said get a life… so they did
MPAA Rating: –
Produced by: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), Pathé Entertainment, Percy Main
Distributed by: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
Budget: $16,500,000 (estimated)
Filming Dates: 11 June 1990 – 31 August 1990

Susan Sarandon…Louise Elizabeth Sawyer
Geena Davis…Thelma Yvonne Dickinson
Harvey Keitel…Investigator Hal Slocumb
Michael Madsen…Jimmy Lennox
Christopher McDonald…Darryl Dickinson
Stephen Tobolowsky…Max
Brad Pitt…J.D.
Timothy Carhart…Harlan

Filming Locations:
Bakersfield, California, USA
Bedrock, Colorado, USA
Canyonlands National Park, Moab, Utah, USA
Cisco, Utah, USA
Colorado, USA
Courthouse Towers, Arches National Park, Moab, Utah, USA (scene where Thelma & Louise lock police officer in his patrol car trunk)
Dead Horse Point State Park – State Highway 313, Moab, Utah, USA
Gorman, California, USA
La Sal Mountains, La Sal, Utah, USA (opening vista)
Moab, Utah, USA
Shafter, California, USA
Silver Bullet Saloon, Long Beach, California, USA
Taft, California, USA
Tarzana, Los Angeles, California, USA
Thompson Springs, Utah, USA
Vagabond Inn – 3101 S. Figueroa Street, Downtown, Los Angeles, California, USA (Oklahoma City motel scenes)
Valley of the Gods, Mexican Hat, Utah, USA
West Valley City, Utah, USA

Louise is working in a fast food restaurant as a waitress and has some problems with her friend Jimmy, who, as a musician, is always on the road. Thelma is married to Darryl who likes his wife to stay quiet in the kitchen so that he can watch football on TV. One day they decide to break out of their normal life and jump in the car and hit the road. Their journey, however, turns into a flight when Louise kills a man who threatens to rape Thelma. They decide to go to Mexico, but soon they are hunted by American police

Trivia & Facts:
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.

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.

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.

Then struggling actor George Clooney auditioned five times for Ridley Scott for the part of J.D. that went to Brad Pitt.

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.

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.

The original Thelma and Louise were to be played by Michelle Pfeiffer and Jodie Foster, Ridley Scott was going to produce, and Callie Khouri (the screenwriter) would be directing. In the end, the pitching took so long that Pfeiffer and Foster were no longer available, and Scott had been persuaded to direct it himself.

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.

Cher was also offered the role of Thelma, but turned it down.

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. Ridley Scott apparently liked the result, and so it remains in the film.

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.

‘Callie Kahouri’ hoped to cast Holly Hunter and Frances McDormand as Thelma and Louise.

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.

At one point Richard Donner was actively interested in directing.

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.

Average Shot Length = ~6.3 seconds. Median Shot Length = ~6.1 seconds.

The part played by Brad Pitt was originally intended for William Baldwin but he jumped ship when he landed the lead in “Backdraft”.

Thelma’s date of birth according to the police broadcast is November 27, 1956. Screenwriter Callie Khouri was born on November 27, 1957.

Both Michael Madsen and Christopher McDonald were initially in talks to play the part of Harlan, the rapist.

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.

24 police cars and 3 helicopters were utilized for the film’s climax.

Scott watched Terrence Malick’s Badlands (1973) for inspiration for the look of the film.

With the light starting to fail and a public holiday looming, Ridley Scott had roughly 45 minutes to get the final scene just right.

From the gallery

J.D.: Well, I’ve always believed that if done properly, armed robbery doesn’t have to be an unpleasant experience.

J.D.: So, tell me something, Miss Thelma. How is it you ain’t got any kids? I mean God gets you something special, I think you oughta pass it on.
Thelma: Well, Daryl, that’s my husband.
J.D.: Daryl?
Thelma: Yeah, he says he’s not ready yet. He says he’s still too much of a kid himself. He kinda prides himself on being infantile.
Louise: He’s got a lot to be proud of.
Thelma: Louise and him don’t get along.
Louise: That’s putting it mildly.
Thelma: She thinks he’s a pig.
Louise: I KNOW he’s a pig.

Thelma: You’re a real live outlaw, aren’t ya?
J.D.: Well I may be an outlaw, darlin’, but you’re the one stealing my heart.

External Links
Official website

SB Store (US)
Thelma & Louise (Special Edition DVD)
Thelma and Louise (Script Screenplay)
Thelma & Louise (DVD)

SB Store (UK)
Thelma and Louise (Screenplay)
Thelma And Louise (DVD)
Thelma & Louise (Special Edition DVD)