George Clooney Hated That Brad Pitt Beat Him Out for This Role

There’s no denying that Brad Pitt has been one of the biggest names in the biz for years, starring in blockbuster after blockbuster and taking home an Oscar for Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood in 2020.

Despite the success he’s found, however, Pitt wasn’t always a household name, and he was actually almost never cast in the role that jump-started his super-stardom. This was, of course, the part of the honey-tongued, hair-dryer-wielding conman, J.D. in Ridley Scott’s epic road movie Thelma & Louise.

Thelma & Louise is led fiercely by the titular leads (Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon, respectively) as they drive across America and take down the patriarchy one pervy truck driver at a time. While the movie sings when it cashes in on the chemistry of its two leading ladies, a then-unknown Brad Pitt still manages to debut with a bang in less than ten minutes of screen time. What’s even more surprising than the fact that he was ever unknown, however, is that Pitt was far from Ridley Scott’s first choice to play the dashing young felon — and he almost lost the part to George Clooney.

Who Does Brad Pitt Play in ‘Thelma & Louise’?
Thelma & Louise tells the story of two friends who embark on a weekend road trip, which soon becomes a cross-country run-from-the-law when unforeseen circumstances leave them wanted for murder. We first meet J.D. when Thelma trips over him on her way out of a payphone, fresh off a heated discussion with her crummy husband (Christopher McDonald) and stressing over the fact that she and her bestie are now fugitives. Unlike the other men that Thelma’s had the pleasure of encountering, J.D. is polite and kind, not berating her for walking into him but rather asking if she’s okay and wondering aloud if he had caused the collision. Sporting a ten-gallon hat and a million-dollar smile, J.D.’s southern charm emanates off him in waves, and Pitt’s performance is immediately captivating.

Thelma is obviously flustered by the attractive young cowboy, and when she learns that he’s looking to catch a ride to Oklahoma City, she all but begs the stern Louise to let him hitchhike with them. Louise, not quite so taken with J.D., declines and drives away. However, when the women encounter J.D. again down the road, Louise relents to Thelma’s puppy dog eyes (and literal panting), and opens the door of her T-bird to the young vagabond. Later that night, Louise unexpectedly encounters her boyfriend, Jimmy (Michael Madsen) at the Oklahoma bank where he wired her life savings, and J.D. takes off to avoid any trouble with the skeptical man. When Louise is hashing things out with Jimmy and Thelma is left alone in her motel room, J.D. saunters back onto the scene, knocking on her door and waiting in the rain for an invitation inside. The next time we see him, he’s stripped off his wet shirt and signature hat and sits on the floor with Thelma, playing flirty hand games and coyly sliding off her wedding ring.

Why Does Brad Pitt’s ‘Thelma & Louise’ Performance Work So Well?

Brad Pitt as J.D., standing in a hotel wearing a cowboy hat and wielding a hair dryer like a handgun in Thelma & LouiseJ.D. soon reveals to Thelma that he’s actually a robber on the run after breaking his parole, and in his most iconic scene in Thelma & Louise, Brad Pitt explains how he’s smoothly pulled off his numerous heists. He uses the motel’s hair dryer as his prop gun, reciting an oddly charming monologue in which he threatens unsuspecting liquor store patrons and then leaves with a hefty sum of cash (Thelma will later use this exact monologue to pull off her own convenience store robbery). The seductive stick-up is obviously just as effective as a pick-up line, and Thelma and J.D. give in to their attraction and spend the night together.

Unfortunately, the honeymoon is abruptly over the next morning, as Thelma, still stuck in a giggly post-intimacy daze, leaves J.D. alone in her room to “shower.” J.D. proceeds to steal all of Louise’s money and then takes off, not being seen again until he’s eventually arrested later in the movie. While it’s difficult to imagine any other star donning J.D.’s Stetson and bringing so much enchanting allure to this small but crucial role, Brad Pitt almost didn’t get to play the part.

Before Brad Pitt, William Baldwin Was Cast as J.D. in ‘Thelma & Louise’

Kurt Russell and William Baldwin as Stephen and Brian McCaffery in 'Backdraft.' Before Brad Pitt was cast in Thelma & Louise, he was a big fan of director Ridley Scott and had high hopes that he might get the part. However, the role of J.D. was given to William Baldwin, who was Scott’s first choice for the role. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately?), shooting on the movie was delayed and Baldwin dropped out, so Scott was back on the hunt for his cowboy Casanova. Finally, it looked like Pitt might be getting his big break, but J.D. was recast with a different actor instead. Just when it appeared as though Pitt’s dreams of being a sexy Southern criminal would never come true, the second actor also left the project, and Pitt was brought in to test with Geena Davis.

Geena Davis Wanted Brad Pitt in ‘Thelma & Louise’

Brad Pitt and Geena Davis as J.D. and Thelma, sitting in a car and looking at a polaroid camera in Thelma & LouiseWhile other future A-listers like George Clooney, Mark Ruffalo, and Grant Show went up against Brad Pitt and gave great performances, Davis, much like her character, was immediately taken with Pitt’s charisma and good looks. She was actually so struck by the young actor that she kept flubbing her lines and worried that she was screwing up his audition. After the auditions were over and Ridley Scott and his fellow casting guys were mulling over the options for J.D., Davis piped in that the obvious choice was “The Blonde One!” Evidently, the rest of the team agreed with this consensus, and Pitt was awarded the role that would put him on the map as one to watch.

Years later, Davis ended up sitting on a plane next to none other than George Clooney himself, who confessed to her that he hated that Pitt had beaten him out for the role of J.D. Davis innocently replied “Oh, did you want the part?” and we can probably all agree that if an audition is good enough to make you forget about George frickin’ Clooney, you probably found the right man for the job. While it’s too bad that Clooney was snubbed from Ridley Scott’s classic movie, Brad Pitt was undeniably the right choice to play J.D. in Thelma & Louise, and it’s difficult to imagine anybody else stealing scenes (and thousands of dollars) with such deceptively sweet swagger.


Related Posts

Our Privacy policy - © 2024 News75today