Susan Sarandon on Thelma & Louise’s original backlash and feminist legacy: ‘Why not do a cowboy movie with women?’

Exactly 25 years ago, Thelma & Louise hit the box office with a bang. The Oscar-winning story of two friends on the lam in a Thunderbird convertible defied gender stereotypes about women in action movies, something star Susan Sarandon had no idea would become so controversial.

“What’s funny about that is we really didn’t see it coming. It wasn’t made as a kind of feminist anything,” Sarandon said in an April episode of Women on Pop. “I just took for granted, why not do a cowboy movie with women and cars instead of guys and horses? We had underestimated how that territory was held by your white, heterosexual males of a certain age, and giving women the option to blow up a truck I guess really upset people.”

“If you read the reviews and things at that time, people just got crazy. Men a lot got crazy,” she added with a laugh, “and some men didn’t.”

Sarandon, 69, also discussed the film’s iconic final scene.

Spoiler alert from 1991: Cornered by police, Thelma (Geena Davis) and Louise (Sarandon) vow to “keep going” and drive their car over the edge of the Grand Canyon.

“The other thing that’s odd about it, these are such strong women. That character’s falling apart. She’s keeping going, but she’s very vulnerable and isn’t strong, and then at the end, it’s that kind of Butch Cassidy choice, that romantic thing. And then, when the movie came out, they said, ‘You’re condoning suicide,'” Sarandon said. “Nobody ever said that to [Robert] Redford. So it was just interesting to see when it hit what it did, and of course disappointing when they said, ‘Oh, for now on we’re going to be making all these films starring women,’ and it didn’t happen.”

Women on Pop airs Thursdays at 1 pm ET on SiriusXM Entertainment Weekly Radio (Ch. 105).

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