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There’s One Role George Clooney Still Regrets Losing Out On

Ryan McLachlan
Photo Credit: Ron Galella / Getty Images, Metro Goldwyn Mayer / Zayne / MovieStillsDB
Photo Credit: Ron Galella / Getty Images, Metro Goldwyn Mayer / Zayne / MovieStillsDB

No matter how talented or famous an actor is, sometimes the roles they really want are given to someone else. George Clooney, despite his stardom, has had his fair share of regrets. One of these would certainly be taking on the role of Batman in 1997. Before that, however, he also lamented losing out on the part of J.D. in the 1991 film Thelma & Louise, which was famously given to Brad Pitt.

What Thelma & Louise is about

Thelma & Louise stars Geena Davis as Thelma Dickinson and Susan Sarandon as Louise Sawyer, two best friends who embark on an unforgettable journey of self-discovery and empowerment.

Susan Sarandon and Louise Sawyer and Geena Davis as Thelma Dickinson in a still from Thelma & Louise.
Thelma & Louise (Photo Credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / murraymomo / MovieStills DB)

Thelma and Louise are two ordinary women living mundane lives in small-town Arkansas. Thelma is a timid housewife trapped in a stifling marriage with a controlling and disrespectful husband, while Louise is a strong-willed waitress who has had her share of disappointments in life. The two decide to take a brief weekend getaway to escape their daily routines and enjoy some freedom.

Their trip takes a dark turn when Thelma is attacked by a drunken man at a bar. Louise intervenes, and the situation escalates, leading to the death of the man. Fearing that no one will believe their side of the story and convinced that their lives are ruined, they decide to go on the run.

Brad Pitt’s role

As Thelma and Louise drive through the stunning landscapes of the American Southwest, the two form a powerful bond, cherishing their newfound freedom and defying societal norms. Along the way, they encounter various characters, including a sympathetic and endearing young hitchhiker named J.D., portrayed by Brad Pitt.

Susan Sarandon (Louise), Geena Davis (Thelma), and Brad Pitt (JD) in a still from Thelma and Louise.
Thelma & Louise (Photo Credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / waryrwmn / MovieStillsDB)

J.D. is portrayed as a free-spirited and opportunistic character, seemingly living life on his own terms and without any attachments. However, as the story unfolds, it becomes clear that there’s more to him than meets the eye. He reveals some questionable aspects of his past and proves to be a bit of a con artist.

Throughout the film, J.D.’s interactions with Thelma and Louise create a contrast between the two women’s perspectives. Thelma sees him as a symbol of rebellion, freedom, and living life without constraints, while Louise remains cautious and skeptical of his intentions.

As the trio continues on their journey, J.D.’s true colors start to emerge, and his involvement with the women leads to some significant turning points in the plot. He plays a crucial role in several key moments, further fueling the escalating tension and drama.

Brad Pitt’s portrayal of J.D. earned him widespread acclaim and further solidified his status as a talented actor. While he had appeared in other films before Thelma & Louise, this role marked a significant point in his career, setting him on the path to becoming one of Hollywood’s biggest stars.

‘Oh, did you want the part?’

Brad Pitt was actually not the first choice to play J.D. Initially, the role was given to William Baldwin. He dropped out of the film when production was delayed. Scott searched for the right actor. Others who were considered included Mark Ruffalo, Grant Show, and George Clooney.

Brad Pitt, left, and George Clooney at the opening ceremony and Burn After Reading Premiere at the 65th Venice FIlm Festival in Venice, Italy, on August 27, 2008.
Brad Pitt and George Clooney at the 65th Venice Film Festival, August 27, 2008. (Photo Credit: Pool Catarina / Vandeville / Gamma-Rapho / Getty Images)

Pitt was ultimately picked for the role. Years later, Clooney ended up sitting next to Geena Davis on a plane. He told her that he was dismayed that Pitt had gotten the role instead of him. Davis simply replied, “Oh, did you want the part?”.

Clooney also talked about his disappointment at losing out on the role in a 2011 discussion with The Hollywood Reporter. “The funniest thing is, I didn’t watch that movie for a long time,” he said. “I was really stuck doing a lot of bad TV at that time. And I had auditioned and auditioned, and it got right down to Brad and I, and he got it. And I just couldn’t watch that movie for a couple of years.”

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While Clooney would likely have done a good job, it’s hard to imagine him playing J.D. better than Pitt.

Ryan McLachlan

Ryan McLachlan is a historian and content writer for Hive Media. He received his Bachelor of Arts in History and Classical Studies and his Master of Arts in History from the University of Western Ontario. Ryan’s research focused on military history, and he is particularly interested in the conflicts fought by the United Kingdom from the Napoleonic Wars to the Falklands War.

Ryan’s other historical interests include naval and maritime history, the history of aviation, the British Empire, and the British Monarchy. He is also interested in the lives of Sir Winston Churchill and Admiral Lord Nelson. Ryan enjoys teaching, reading, writing, and sharing history with anyone who will listen.

In his spare time, he enjoys watching period dramas such as Murdoch Mysteries and Ripper Street and also enjoys reading classical literature and Shakespeare. He also plays football and is an afternoon tea connoisseur.