Susan Sarandon ‘Underestimated’ How Much ‘Thelma & Louise’ Would Offend ‘White Heterosexual Males’

Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon celebrated 30 years of “Thelma & Louise” by reuniting at Los Angeles’ Greek Theatre over the weekend for a discussion moderated by the film’s screenwriter, Callie Khouri (via The Hollywood Reporter). The Ridley Scott-directed film was a critical and commercial hit in 1991, grossing just over $45 million worldwide and earning six Oscar nominations. Khouri won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, while Davis and Sarandon were nominated for Best Actress. Davis said the film’s success led many in the industry to believe a wave of female-led movies would follow, but she’s still waiting for that to happen.

“There are going to be so many movies starring women, about women, female road pictures, whatever,” Davis said. “I’m thinking, hot dog, let’s sit back and wait for all this magic change to happen. We’re still waiting. It really did not happen. It seems like every five years or so, there’s another movie starring women that’s a huge hit and people say, ‘Well now certainly everything is going to change,’ and it really hasn’t.”

Khouri said she was “completely shocked” by some of the responses to “Thelma & Louise” at the time, most notably responses by men. “With all the murder and mayhem that you see in movies that male critics would be going, ‘They killed the guy.’ But it was just one guy and he had it coming,” the writer said, noting that Louise kills a man only because he was attempting to rape Thelma. “Let’s not lose our heads here, it wasn’t exactly a murder spree.”

Sarandon noted the script reminded her of “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” noting, “I thought this was a cowboy [movie] with women and trucks and it’s going to be a lot of fun, Ridley is a great director and it’s a fun script.” But some reactions to the film took her by surprise.

“I completely underestimated that we were backing into territory held by white heterosexual males,” Sarandon said. “They got offended and accused us of glorifying murder and suicide and all kinds of things. It didn’t seem like a big deal, it seemed like it was unusual that there would be a woman that you could be friends with in a film. Normally, if there were two women in a film, you automatically hated each other for some reason…Next thing we knew, all hell broke loose.”

Khouri also called out U.S. News & World Report’s John Leo by name, saying, “I’ll never forget his name. He called it neo-fascist. I was like, wow, you really got to have your tighties in a wad to call this movie neo-fascist after all the bullshit that women have had to put up with in every movie that’s ever been made.”

For more on the “Thelma & Louise” 30th anniversary reunion, head over to The Hollywood Reporter’s website.

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