Geena Davis Left Hollywood Spotlight Behind And Almost Became An Olympian

Nov 25, 2021 by apost team

Geena Davis is a beloved comedic actress and activist best known for the films “Thelma and Louise,” “Beetlejuice” and “The Accidental Tourist” among others. She is the recipient of an Academy Award and Golden Globe, as well as nominations for a British Academy Film Award and Primetime Emmy. 

In 2004, Davis created the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media which works with the entertainment industry to increase roles for women in films and on television. In 2019, Davis was awarded the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for her efforts in fighting gender bias in the media. 

The actress was born Virginia Elizabeth Davis on January 21, 1956, in Wareham, Massachusetts. She graduated from Boston College in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in drama. The star then went on to sign with Zoli modeling agency and worked as a model before becoming a Hollywood actress. Her debut film was “Tootsie” in 1982, which is now considered a cult classic. Davis continued to appear in many films throughout the 1980s and received generally good reviews from critics. 

By the late 90s, Davis saw her career winding down and later said she received fewer roles once she was in her 40s. During this time she took a break from Hollywood and focused on other interests. One of these passions was archery, and Davis was so good she nearly qualified for the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia. 

Keep reading to hear what Davis had to say at the 30th anniversary celebration for “Thelma and Louise” and to learn more about her athletic talent.

Geena Davis (1984), (SLM Production Group/Brooksfil/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis/Getty Images)

On June 18, 2021, Sarandon and Davis met up to look back at their memories of making “Thelma and Louise” together in 1991."There (were) going to be so many movies starring women, about women, female road pictures, whatever," she recalled to The Hollywood Reporter. The actress was right, "Thelma and Louise" had an impact on what audiences could expect from women in movies.

However, Davis thinks there's still room for improvement. She continued, "I'm thinking, hot dog, let's sit back and wait for all this magic change to happen. We're still waiting. It really did not happen. It seems like every five years or so, there's another movie starring women that's a huge hit and people say, 'Well now certainly everything is going to change,' and it really hasn't."

When asked what it was like filming the iconic driving sequences from the movie Sarandon responded, "It was really fun, especially in the desert. What I learned is that you do your best acting when you're really just trying to drive a car and you're not thinking about anything and getting the shots lined up. I was driving pretty fast by the time we finished the movie."

Davis told The Hollywood Reporter the film changed what scripts she chose in the future. She said:

"It made me realize how few opportunities we give women to come out of a movie feeling empowered by the female characters. It made me really think about what women in the audience are going to think about my character from now on and led me to want to play parts where I could feel good about the choices the character makes. I turned down parts based on that thinking for sure."

Geena Davis, Jeff Goldblum (1989), (Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images)

While watching the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia, Davis became very interested in the sport of archery. “They had a lot of coverage of archery because America was winning all the gold medals, And I was like Wow! It’s very dramatic and beautiful and just thought casually, ‘I wonder if I’d be good at that?’” she shared with PEOPLE in 2020.

Always a go-getter, Davis learned how the sport works and quickly showed a talent for it. She dedicated a lot of time and energy into archery. “I found a coach and became utterly obsessed,” she said. “Yeah, I took it up at 41 and it became my life for a couple of years.”

It is no surprise that Davis excelled at archery without any prior training. She explained, “I had learned sports for a number of movies: I had to learn how to play baseball, and then I had to learn fencing, TaeKwonDo, and horseback riding, and ice skating and all kinds of stuff. And I never thought of myself as athletic, but I was actually really good at everything.”

The star continued, “And so I thought ‘I want to take up a sport in the real-life way and not the movie version, because they can fake anything. Like my character in ‘A League of Their Own’ only hit home runs, so I would do a nice swing, but the props guys had a giant slingshot to send the ball over the fence with. So I thought, ‘I want to see if I can really learn something real.’”

Davis competed with 300 other women for a place on the U.S. Olympic archery team for the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia. She ended up in 24th place, just falling short of qualifying. 

Geena Davis (1999), (Adam Pretty/ALLSPORT/Getty Images)

Are you a Geena Davis fan? Did you know she was good at archery? Let us know and feel free to send this along to your loved ones. 

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