Thirty years ago, two best friends set out on an adventure that turned into a flight for freedom. “It was the strongest reactionI’ve ever had to a script!” Geena Davis, one of the stars of Thelma & Louise, tells Closer.
She wasn’t the only one. The 1991 road movie hit the right note with audiences too, grossing $45 million and earning Geena and her co-star, Susan Sarandon, Oscar nominations.
Three decades later, its message about female empowerment remains relevant. “None of us had any idea it would strike a nerve,” says Geena. “We thought it would be a small movie, but it never occurred to us it could explode like that.”
Of course, the movie’s message didn’t appeal to everyone. Thelma & Louise felt threatening to some. “I completely underestimated that we were backing into territory held by white heterosexual males,” says Susan. “They got offended and accused us of glorifying murder and suicide and all kinds of things.”
The women, who remained friends, can’t help but regard Thelma & Louise as a career landmark. “It was a magical experience,” says Geena, who recalls how “in awe” she was of her co-star. “I think my favorite moments were just hanging around with Susan. She said to me once, ‘See how fun it is to work with women?’ I had to agree.”
While Thelma & Louise paved the way for other female-led films, few have had a similar impact. “There are still too few and far between,” says Geena, who founded the Bentonville Film Festival to help get those voices heard.