Oprah Talks to Geena Davis
Geena: Any of the other four. While I was getting ready for the Oscars—I think it was your show I was watching. I had gotten dressed, and I thought, "I'd better eat something before I go." So I sat down with my big dress on and a napkin tucked in and had a bowl of spaghetti. On the show, you were talking with Rex Reed and Siskel and Ebert about what would happen that night. When you got to the Best Supporting Actress category, the panel mentioned every contender except me. Michelle Pfeiffer for Dangerous Liaisons. Joan Cusack and Sigourney Weaver for Working Girl. Frances McDormand for Mississippi Burning. When my name didn't come up, you said, "What about Geena Davis?" One by one, they said, "No chance." Siskel said, "Her part's too big. She's in the wrong category." I'm sitting there...
Geena: Then I think it was Ebert who said, "She was miscast because she's too pretty—it was supposed to be an unattractive character." Then Rex Reed goes, "Pretty? Are you kidding? She has eyes like navel oranges! She's really unattractive. But still, she's not going to win." [Laughs.]
Oprah: You're kidding.
Geena: What does "eyes like navel oranges" even mean? I was like, "Whatever." I decided to relax about it. But I certainly wasn't thinking I might win.
Oprah: And then you did.
Geena: That night was the greatest fun.
Oprah: And yet it was really Thelma & Louise that became your tipping point in terms of buzz. That film was like a movement.
Geena: I read the script a year before I got cast. After reading it, I thought, "God, I have to be in this movie." When I told my agent, he said the role had already been taken. But then the movie went through several directors and many sets of women before the producer, Ridley Scott, decided to direct it himself. So my agent called Ridley—the guy he'd called weekly for a year—and asked, "Would you consider Geena for the part?" Ridley said, "Anyone with this much passion obviously deserves a meeting." So I met him at the Four Seasons for tea. I had notes and notes and notes on the script. I poured out my guts for two hours straight about why I should play Louise. He listened, then he said, "So in other words, you wouldn't play Thelma." I said, "You know what? It's so interesting you should say that"—and then I made up a whole spiel about Thelma. In my contract, I agreed to play either part, depending on who the other actor was. I'd never heard of such a thing. But just to have a part was unbelievable. Things like that have happened a few times in my life.
Oprah: You called it in. Nothing is happening out of order in life.