Study Guide

Thelma & Louise Screenwriter

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Picture yourself driving home from a long day waiting tables. You're tired, you smell like your hippie uncle, your crocs feel heavier than normal, and you're wondering if any place sells cat litter at two in the morning. Then an idea pops into your head—or no, not an idea, just a sentence: "Two women go on a crime spree."

Yup. That was it. The fateful sentence that popped into Callie Khouri's head.

Khouri promptly wrote out her very first screenplay and called it Thelma and Louise. And guess what? That screenplay went on to earn her the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, a Golden Globe Award, and a PEN Literary Award as well as the London Film Critics Circle Award for Film of the Year and a nomination for Best Original Screenplay from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.

Holy crap.

So, who exactly is Callie Khouri? Well, at the time she came up with the idea for Thelma and Louise, she was thirty, waitressing, working as a music-video line-producer in L.A., and fed up with being jumped by men (source). She and her friend (and country music star) Pam Tillis had had experiences leaving parties late at night much like the dangerous situation that ultimately turns Thelma's and Louise's lives upside down.

Khouri's original vision for the film was met with some criticism—specifically about the ending. What kind of a message would it send to people watching the film when Thelma and Louise plummet to their deaths in the Grand Canyon? Khouri's response was short and un-sweet: "It's the message you came up with, not me."

Khouri didn't stop with Thelma and Louise. She went on to write The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and the popular TV series Nashville. Like Thelma and Louise, she kept going.

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