When Thelma & Louise graced the screens in 1991, it was hit with a controversial reception. The feminist sensation following two protagonists' weekend getaway-turned-empowerment-mission was the first of its kind – a story of two defiant women running away from their disenchanted lives and overpowering men who get in their way.
But the film, which continues to rouse audiences today, could have been very different.
New book Off the Cliff: How the Making of Thelma & Louise Drove Hollywood to the Edge, by Becky Aikman and out next month, details how the hit movie was, instead of its stars Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon, due to star Cher, Goldie Hawn and Meryl Streep.
While it's surprising to imagine other ladies in the iconic roles that defined both of their careers, the film's director Ridley Scott played around with a few combinations of leading women, before ending up with the Thelma and Louise we know and cherish today.
Along with gossip about all of the backstage drama behind Thelma & Louise, the book outlines how Scott came to cast Davis and Sarandon, and why other equally-loved actresses didn't get the parts.
Numerous actresses were interested in the script in the months leading up to filming, according to a segment of Aikman's book published in Broadly ahead of its release.
As well as Cher, Goldie Hawn and Meryl Streep, actresses fighting for the spot included Julia Roberts, Meg Ryan, Kim Basinger, Kathleen Turner, Andie MacDowell, Kelly Lynch, Rebecca De Mornay, Ellen Barkin, Theresa Russell, Nancy Travis, and Michelle Pfeiffer, among others.
However, due to other Hollywood commitments, it took a long time to secure certain actresses' schedules – Julia Roberts would only be free a year later, Meg Ryan wouldn't be free until June, and Michelle Pfeiffer wouldn't be available until the following July.
Thus, both the parts of Thelma and Louis (although Thelma was more coveted by prospective actresses) became the reward for those fully committed and all out suitable to the movie. That, of course, included Geena Davis, who said she would play either part whenever, wherever, and Susan Sarandon.
"Cher could have been quite good, I think," Laddie, a studio chief for Thelma & Louise and advocate for Cher to star in the film said. "She could have played either part." But, according to Off the Cliff, the director didn't think she could offer the humor Scott felt in the script.
It wasn't all gloom for Laddie, however. Shortly after Cher's rejection, Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn pitched themselves to Pathé to star in the movie together. They were so keen they even called the studio themselves.
The book's author Becky Aikman finds out all of these extraordinary details of the film's production by drawing on 130 exclusive interviews with key players from the remarkable cast of actors, writers, and filmmakers, involved in the legendary movie.
As the publication's Amazon page reads, on top of the remarkable drama induced by finding the lead actors, "Aikman tells an inspiring and important underdog story about creativity, the magic of cinema, and the unjust obstacles that women in Hollywood continue to face to this day."
The brainchild of Callie Khouri, a thirty-year-old music video production manager, Thelma & Louise began as a dream idea in her head. But with near no experience in a very male-dominated Hollywood, the chance of the film actually getting made let alone being a success was unlikely. But, Off The Cliff details, Khouri's inexperience might have been her virtue.
While, as Aikman outlines, Thelma & Louise was directed by a man, it allowed for female voices to be heard, while testing the limitations of what was acceptable for women on-screen.
And yet, decades on from the film's release, there is still a deficiency of female screenwriters, directors and well-rounded female characters in Hollywood.