'Thelma and Louise' revolution that never was

By Caitlin Gibson

Thelma and Louise starring Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon was an iconic movie that dared to put women in the drivers seat.
Thelma and Louise starring Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon was an iconic movie that dared to put women in the drivers seat.

It was the original feminist road trip movie, nominated for six Oscars and tipped as heralding a new era for women in film.

But Thelma and Louise might not even get made today, according to its stars, as Susan Sarandon says it would have to be turned into "an animation".

Sarandon, who played Louise in the 1991 film, said corporate studios were now increasingly staffed by men taught to commission films by formula, who lacked the imagination to see women in leading roles.

Actresses Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis at the 69th international film festival, Cannes. Photo / AP
Actresses Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis at the 69th international film festival, Cannes. Photo / AP

Speaking at the Cannes Film Festival to celebrate 25 years since the release of Thelma and Louise, Sarandon and co-star Geena Davis lamented the lack of progress in Hollywood since their landmark film made the headlines.

When asked if she thought it would ever get commissioned today, Sarandon said: "Maybe as an animation? I mean, everybody thought that there were going to be so many more buddy films [afterwards]. Well I don't think the studios have fallen off their horse and had some kind of epiphany about women in film.

"After Thelma and Louise, they predicted there would be so many films starring women. But it didn't happen."

Speaking at a Kering Women in Motion event, part of a festival-long series, Davis added: "And that's one of the really uncomfortable things, because when they said that, I believed it. It didn't happen.

"The thing about film is, it can change overnight. It isn't like real life, where it takes so long to get women to be half of congress or boards or CEOs. The next movie somebody makes can be gender balanced. We don't have to sneak up on it, just do it."

When asked about what was holding Hollywood back, Sarandon said: "There are still many more male executives making these decisions. Hollywood has become more and more corporate.

"Whereas women can see a woman or a man in a leading role, I don't think it's as easy for a guy to see a woman in a leading role and say, 'I'll get behind that.' I think it's a cultural thing, and that's part of what slows it down: a lack of imagination on the part of men."

She joked that she, too, would not survive as a modern celebrity starting out today, with scrutiny over the every move of actresses.

On the issue of equal pay, Sarandon argued that Hollywood actors were "all paid preposterously considering what we do. But why should we not be paid as pre-posterously as men?"

Speaking of the reaction to the original release of Thelma and Louise, which sees the leading characters on the run after getting into trouble with the law, Sarandon said: "I don't know if you remember, but there were a lot of people who were very offended by the movie.

"Because women having those kind of options got people upset, suddenly we were accused of condoning suicide, which was ridiculous."

- Daily Telegraph UK

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