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15 Things You Might Not Know About Thelma & Louise

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Ridley Scott's Thelma & Louise was controversial at the time of its release on May 24, 1991. To write that the two main characters’ weekend getaway went awry would be a massive understatement, and the actions resulting from it made some men uncomfortable. Six Academy Award nominations (and one win), plus almost a quarter-century later, it’s considered a classic, important film. Before you can say “peaches” (don’t say “peaches”), here are some facts about the film.

1. IT WAS CALLIE KHOURI’S FIRST SCREENPLAY.

Intrigued by the idea of “women outlaws,” the Kentucky-raised Khouri spent six months writing Thelma & Louise in 1988 while producing rock videos for artists like Alice Cooper. She won the movie’s only Oscar, for Best Original Screenplay. Khouri later wrote the films Something to Talk About and Divine Sisters of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, and created the current ABC TV drama Nashville. It’s theorized that Thelma was based on Khouri’s friend, country singer Pam Tillis.

2. KHOURI HAD DOUBTS ABOUT RIDLEY SCOTT DIRECTING.

Scott, who was then mostly known for his sci-fi action movies like Blade Runner and Alien, allayed her concerns upon their first meeting. For one thing, the Englishman proved to understand the south of the Mason-Dixon line humor in the script. For another, Scott pointed out that he had cast a woman in a lead role that would usually go to a man in Alien.

3. GEORGE CLOONEY AUDITIONED FIVE TIMES TO PLAY J.D.

Clooney was on the short list for the role that eventually went to Brad Pitt, and became his big break. “The funniest thing is, I didn’t watch that movie for a long time,” Clooney admitted during a Q&A at the Telluride Film Festival. “I was really stuck doing a lot of bad TV at that time. And I had auditioned and auditioned, and it got right down to Brad and I, and he got it. And I just couldn’t watch that movie for a couple of years ... When I saw it, I thought actually that was the right choice. [Brad] was really good in it, and I would have f***ed it up somehow."

4. BRAD PITT WAS PAID $6,000 FOR HIS WORK IN THE FILM.

That was in 1991. Just five years later, he earned $10 million for his work in Barry Levinson's Sleepers.

5. GEENA DAVIS HAD A HAND IN CASTING PITT.

Geena Davis admitted that she kept messing up her lines when auditioning with Pitt because he was so attractive. When Scott and the casting director were discussing who to cast, she reportedly jumped in: "The blond one. Duh!” Julie Strain was hired to play Davis’ body double in the movie, but Davis opted to shoot her sex scene with Pitt directly.

6. GEENA DAVIS WAS DARRYL’S EX-FIANCéE IN REAL LIFE.

Christopher McDonald and Geena Davis were engaged before she met Jeff Goldblum on the set of Transylvania 6-5000. McDonald, who had since married, described the experience of acting with Davis on Thelma & Louise as “cathartic.” Davis was equally game, despite not initially being informed of McDonald’s casting.

7. MCDONALD GAINED 36 POUNDS TO PLAY DARRYL.

The actor wore Darryl’s Roman numeral gold chain to the audition, as well as a polyester leisure suit. After the movie came out, two girls recognized him, one telling the other to shoot him.

8. HOLLY HUNTER, FRANCES MCDORMAND, JODIE FOSTER, MICHELLE PFEIFFER, MERYL STREEP, AND GOLDIE HAWN WERE ALL CONSIDERED FOR THELMA OR LOUISE.

In its early stages, Khouri pictured her movie as a low-budget affair, with Hunter and McDormand as the leads. (In what was probably a coincidence, Hunter and McDormand knew each other from when they were roommates at the Yale School of Drama.) With Ridley Scott as producer, Foster and Pfeiffer were attached, but eventually moved on to do other work. Streep and Hawn met with Scott, with Streep wanting either Thelma or Louise to survive the movie.

9. GEENA DAVIS WANTED TO PLAY LOUISE, NOT THELMA.

Davis’ agent called Ridley Scott every week for a year to get Davis in a room with the director so that she could convince him to let her play Louise. Then she met Susan Sarandon: "Pretty much the second Susan walked in the room, I was, Are you kidding that I could play Louise? Susan was so self-possessed, so centered and together."

10. THE ACTORS WEREN’T ALWAYS SOBER.

Upon Sarandon’s request to do some Method acting, Davis admits that for the roadhouse scene, “We asked the prop guy, ‘Do you have any real tequila? Because it’s easier to act if we taste alcohol.' So we pounded back quite a few, and we’re laughing between takes and both feeling, We’re so drunk! This is great!” Michael Madsen (Jimmy) said that he and Pitt smoked a few joints during filming.

11. HARVEY KEITEL STOLE SOME OF STEPHEN TOBOLOWSKY’S LINES.

After Tobolowsky (Max) was told by Ridley Scott before a scene that Keitel (Detective Hal Slocumb) wanted to improvise, he was okay with it. Then Keitel proceeded to say some of Max’s lines. The veteran character actor made improvisation work to his advantage later on when he ad-libbed the funny “deli run” order riff to flesh out the surveillance scene.

12. THE GRAND CANYON SCENE WAS ACTUALLY SHOT IN UTAH.

Most of the film was shot around Bakersfield, California. But Thelma and Louise were near Moab, Utah when they drove off the precipice, under Dead Horse Point State Park.

13. SUSAN SARANDON INSISTED THAT THE ENDING NOT CHANGE.

Thelma and Louise drive off a cliff at the end of Khouri’s original script. Sarandon told Ridley Scott that she didn't want that to change. Scott responded that while Louise would definitely die, she might shove Thelma out of the Thunderbird at the last second.

14. THERE WAS AN ALTERNATE ENDING.

On the DVD release, it was revealed that a different cut of the ending was made where you could see the Thunderbird descend to B.B. King’s “Better Not Look Down.” In the final, more upbeat version, the car and its occupants freeze in mid-air.

15. THE MOVIE INSPIRED TORI AMOS TO WRITE "ME AND A GUN."

“Me and a Gun” tells the true story of one of Amos’ fans kidnapping and assaulting her after a gig. Seven years after the incident, the singer-songwriter cried while watching Thelma & Louise in a theater, then went home and wrote the song.

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15 Fun Facts About Army of Darkness
Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

On February 19, 1993, Army of Darkness—the third installment in Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell's Evil Dead franchise—made its way into U.S. theaters. You probably know all about Ash’s boomstick, but on the occasion of the hilarious horror comedy's 25th anniversary, it's worth a closer look.

1. ARMY OF DARKNESS ISN'T THE ENTIRE TITLE.

The film’s title is stylized onscreen as Bruce Campbell vs. Army of Darkness. This phrasing was Sam Raimi’s homage to the defunct Hollywood tradition of putting stars’ names in movie titles (like Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein)—but the studio feared the long title would confuse moviegoers, so it was shortened for official purposes to just Army of Darkness.

2. EVEN THE SHORTER TITLE WASN'T RAIMI'S FIRST CHOICE.

Army of Darkness is the third installment of the Evil Dead series and the first to take place during the Middle Ages. Raimi’s original title for Army of Darkness was The Medieval Dead.

3. BRIDGET FONDA FINALLY GOT TO WORK WITH RAIMI.

Bridget Fonda makes a cameoas Ash’s girlfriend Linda during the beginning flashback sequence. She is the third actress in three films to play Linda (following actresses Betsy Baker and Denise Bixler). Fonda—a huge Evil Dead II fan—had originally auditioned to be in Raimi’s previous film, Darkman, but didn’t get the part.

4. ASH'S CAR HAD A LOT OF SCREEN EXPERIENCE.

The 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 allegedly appears in all of Sam Raimi’s films.

5. DARKMAN MADE ARMY OF DARKNESS POSSIBLE.

Raimi wanted to make Army of Darkness immediately following 1987’s Evil Dead II, but he struggled to find funding to finish his trilogy. The financial success of Raimi’s 1990 film, Darkman, eventually convinced Universal Studios to split the $12 million budget with executive producer Dino De Laurentiis.

6. A SUBTLE SCIENCE FICTION REFERENCE PLAYS A KEY ROLE.

The words Ash must utter to safely retrieve the Necronomicon (“Klaatu verata nikto”) are actually a variation on a phrase from the original version of The Day the Earth Stood Still. In that film, “Klaatu barada nitko” is the phrase one must say to stop the robot Gort from destroying Earth.

7. THE SKELETON DEADITES WERE AN HOMAGE.

Their design is a tribute to visual effects legend Ray Harryhausen.

8. THE STAY PUFT MARSHMALLOW MAN MAKES AN APPEARANCE.

Billy Bryan, the actor who portrays the second monster in the medieval pit, also portrayed the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man in Ghostbusters.

9. SAM RAIMI'S BROTHER WORE A LOT OF HATS.

Ted Raimi—who makes cameos in all of his brother’s films—appears as three different background characters in Army of Darkness. He is first seen as a sympathetic villager, then as a dying soldier during the final battle, and, finally, as an S-Mart employee in the last scene.

10. RAIMI HAD TO FIGHT FOR AN R-RATING.

In keeping with the gory first two films in the series, Army of Darkness received an NC-17 rating from the MPAA. It was subsequently bumped down to an R rating after the filmmakers pointed out that the ostensible gore in the film was happening to skeletons.

11. PLAYING EVIL ASH WAS TOUGH FOR CAMPBELL.

It took makeup artists three hours to get Campbell ready for shooting.

12. RAIMI STORYBOARDED EVERY SINGLE SHOT IN THE MOVIE HIMSELF.

About 25 shots in the final battle are taken from storyboards originally used in the 1948 Victor Fleming film Joan of Arc, which were brought to Raimi’s attention by visual effects supervisor William Mesa. Mesa got them from a friend, who got them from Fleming himself.

13. THERE'S AN EASTER EGG FOR TREKKIES.

Star Trek fans will recognize the location where Ash learns the “Klaatu verata nikto” incantation. The scene was shot at the iconic Vasquez Rocks in Agua Dulce, California, where the famous “Arena” episode from Star Trek was also shot. The movie also shot in the Bronson Canyon area of Griffith Park in Los Angeles that served as the Batcave for the 1960s Batman television show.

14. THE STUDIO CHANGED THE ENDING.

Bruce Campbell stars in 'Army of Darkness' (1992)
Universal Pictures

The original conclusion of the film—which Universal Studios deemed too negative—featured Ash taking too much potion to get back to the present day and waking up in a future, post-apocalyptic London. The ending can be seen on subsequent director’s cuts of home video versions of Army of Darkness.

15. EVEN AFTER YEARS OF TRYING, A SEQUEL NEVER MATERIALIZED.

Beginning in 2015, Bruce Campbell reprised his role as Ash in the Ash vs Evil Dead TV series. While fans of the Evil Dead franchise love it, Raimi spent years trying to get a sequel to Army of Darkness off the ground. On the commentary track for the first season of Ash vs. Evil Dead, Raimi even shared a few of the discarded ideas he had for the film.

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6 Times There Were Ties at the Oscars
getty images (March and Beery)/ istock (oscar)
getty images (March and Beery)/ istock (oscar)

Only six ties have ever occurred during the Academy Awards' near-90-year history. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) members vote for nominees in their corresponding categories; here are the six times they have come to a split decision.

1. BEST ACTOR // 1932

Back in 1932, at the fifth annual Oscars ceremony, the voting rules were different than they are today. If a nominee received an achievement that came within three votes of the winner, then that achievement (or person) would also receive an award. Actor Fredric March had one more vote than competitor Wallace Beery, but because the votes were so close, the Academy honored both of them. (They beat the category’s only other nominee, Alfred Lunt.) March won for his performance in horror film Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Beery won for The Champ (writer Frances Marion won Best Screenplay for the film), which was remade in 1979 with Ricky Schroder and Jon Voight. Both Beery and March were previous nominees: Beery was nominated for The Big House and March for The Royal Family of Broadway. March won another Oscar in 1947 for The Best Years of Our Lives, also a Best Picture winner. Fun fact: March was the first actor to win an Oscar for a horror film.

2. BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT // 1950

By 1950, the above rule had been changed, but there was still a tie at that year's Oscars. A Chance to Live, an 18-minute movie directed by James L. Shute, tied with animated film So Much for So Little. Shute’s film was a part of Time Inc.’s "The March of Time" newsreel series and chronicles Monsignor John Patrick Carroll-Abbing putting together a Boys’ Home in Italy. Directed by Bugs Bunny’s Chuck Jones, So Much for So Little was a 10-minute animated film about America’s troubling healthcare situation. The films were up against two other movies: a French film named 1848—about the French Revolution of 1848—and a Canadian film entitled The Rising Tide.

3. BEST ACTRESS // 1969

Probably the best-known Oscars tie, this was the second and last time an acting award was split. When presenter Ingrid Bergman opened up the envelope, she discovered a tie between newcomer Barbra Streisand and two-time Oscar winner Katharine Hepburn—both received 3030 votes. Streisand, who was 26 years old, tied with the 61-year-old The Lion in Winter star, who had already been nominated 10 times in her lengthy career, and won the Best Actress Oscar the previous year for Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. Hepburn was not in attendance, so all eyes fell on Funny Girl winner Streisand, who wore a revealing, sequined bell-bottomed-pantsuit and gave an inspired speech. “Hello, gorgeous,” she famously said to the statuette, echoing her first line in Funny Girl.

A few years earlier, Babs had received a Tony nomination for her portrayal of Fanny Brice in the Broadway musical Funny Girl, but didn’t win. At this point in her career, she was a Grammy-winning singer, but Funny Girl was her movie debut (and what a debut it was). In 1974, Streisand was nominated again for The Way We Were, and won again in 1977 for her and Paul Williams’s song “Evergreen,” from A Star is Born. Four-time Oscar winner Hepburn won her final Oscar in 1982 for On Golden Pond.

4. BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE // 1987

The March 30, 1987 telecast made history with yet another documentary tie, this time for Documentary Feature. Oprah presented the awards to Brigitte Berman’s film about clarinetist Artie Shaw, Artie Shaw: Time is All You’ve Got, and to Down and Out in America, a film about widespread American poverty in the ‘80s. Former Oscar winner Lee Grant (who won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 1976 for Shampoo) directed Down and Out and won the award for producers Joseph Feury and Milton Justice. “This is for the people who are still down and out in America,” Grant said in her acceptance speech.

5. BEST SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION) // 1995

More than 20 years ago—the same year Tom Hanks won for Forrest Gump—the Short Film (Live Action) category saw a tie between two disparate films: the 23-minute British comedy Franz Kafka’s It’s a Wonderful Life, and the LGBTQ youth film Trevor. Doctor Who star Peter Capaldi wrote and directed the former, which stars Richard E. Grant (Girls, Withnail & I) as Kafka. The BBC Scotland film envisions Kafka stumbling through writing The Metamorphosis.

Trevor is a dramatic film about a gay 13-year-old boy who attempts suicide. Written by James Lecesne and directed by Peggy Rajski, the film inspired the creation of The Trevor Project to help gay youths in crisis. “We made our film for anyone who’s ever felt like an outsider,” Rajski said in her acceptance speech, which came after Capaldi's. “It celebrates all those who make it through difficult times and mourns those who didn’t.” It was yet another short film ahead of its time.

6. BEST SOUND EDITING // 2013

The latest Oscar tie happened only three years ago, when Zero Dark Thirty and Skyfall beat Argo, Django Unchained, and Life of Pi in sound editing. Mark Wahlberg and his animated co-star Ted presented the award to Zero Dark Thirty’s Paul N.J. Ottosson and Skyfall’s Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers. “No B.S., we have a tie,” Wahlberg said to the crowd, assuring them he wasn’t kidding. Ottosson was announced first and gave his speech before Hallberg and Baker Landers found out that they were the other victors.

It wasn’t any of the winners' first trip to the rodeo: Ottosson won two in 2010 for his previous collaboration with Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker (Best Achievement in Sound Editing and Sound Mixing); Hallberg previously won an Oscar for Best Sound Effects Editing for Braveheart in 1996, and in 2008 both Hallberg and Baker Landers won Best Achievement in Sound Editing for The Bourne Ultimatum.

Ottosson told The Hollywood Reporter he possibly predicted his win: “Just before our category came up another fellow nominee sat next to me and I said, ‘What if there’s a tie, what would they do?’ and then we got a tie,” Ottosson said. Hallberg also commented to the Reporter on his win. “Any time that you get involved in some kind of history making, that would be good.”

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