How ‘Thelma & Louise’ would have had a totally different ending if not for Susan Sarandon

The now-75-year-old made some last-minute changes that 'sealed the deadly fates of both characters as only Louise was set to die in the end'

How ‘Thelma & Louise’ would have had a totally different ending if not for Susan Sarandon
Susan Sarandon and Geen Davis played the lead roles in 'Thelma & Louise' (Screenshot, Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)
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STAMFORD, VERMONT: Directed by Ridley Scott and written by Callie Khouri, 'Thelma & Louise' (1991) is today considered one of the greatest female buddy films of all time. The influential feminist comedy-drama starred Susan Sarandon as Louise and Geena Davis as Thelma. Shot almost entirely in the states of California and Utah, the road-trip classic would have had a totally different ending if it weren’t for Susan Sarandon. The now-75-year-old made some last-minute changes to the script that "sealed the deadly fates of both characters as only Louise was set to die in the end," Sarandon revealed.

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"[Ridley Scott] said, "Well, you definitely will die, but I’m not sure about the other character. Uh, you may push her out of the car,’” Sarandon told Vanity Fair. “By the time we got to that, the very end of shooting, the one take that we had, we had earned that moment to be together.”

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At the Grand Canyon, the New York-born actress had another inspired idea for the movie’s memorable final scene. “I said to Ridley, ‘I want to cut a lot of this dialogue, and by that time we’re finishing each other’s sentences, and I wanna kiss her.’ And he said, ‘Great.’” She continued, "After getting involved with the project because 'Ridley Scott asked me to,' there was a question about whether I would play Thelma or Louise. [He] kind of said, ‘Which part would you like to play?’" Sarandon said.

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Susan Sarandon attends
Susan  Sarandon attends "Thelma And Louise" 30th Anniversary drive-in charity screening experience hosted by MGM and Cinespia at The Greek Theatre on June 18, 2021, in Los Angeles, California (Amy Sussman/Getty Images)

“And I had a lot of questions because I told him, ‘I don’t want to do a revenge film, I don’t think that’s what it’s about.’ And so I changed a few things in terms of the way it was played," she concluded. 

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Sarandon appreciates Scott for making the film “the iconic, bigger-than-life story," which earned both her and Davis Best Actress Oscar nominations. She said that he elevated “Thelma & Louise from a tiny little film by putting the two female outlaws in John Wayne’s backdrop.”

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“[The] joke was while we were filming that we would find out that we were just a voiceover, and it was all these great shots of everything,” said Sarandon. “Because that’s what we would be doing every morning, every sunset — we would be shooting exteriors with Ridley, with his guys all bare-chested with their shirts on their heads and smoking cigars. And Geena and I were like, ‘I’m sure we’re not even gonna be in this movie.’”

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