Writing women as characters who exist outside of how they relate to the male characters has always been important to Shelton, as evidenced by the way he crafted Susan Sarandon’s character in the baseball classic “Bull Durham.” But while he tried to come up with a way to make Gloria her own person, she was so closely tied to Billy that for awhile, she seemed to simply be an extension of Harrelson’s character. As he explained to Entertainment Weekly:
“I was trying to figure out what Gloria’s [Billy’s girlfriend] thing was. It had to be so unconnected from the guys. Because that’s big for me, to make sure that the women aren’t defined in terms of the guy business.”
Fortunately, a bit of light eavesdropping saved the day when Shelton heard someone mention that they had a friend who really wanted to be on “Jeopardy!” That was all it took, and suddenly Gloria had her own purpose in the film. In the movie, Billy and Gloria are on the run from a couple of mobsters to who they owe money from a gambling debt. While Billy is trying to hustle the money in street ball games around Los Angeles, Gloria has her own plan: she’ll go on “Jeopardy!” and win enough money to get them free and clear. Thanks to Shelton’s good fortune overhearing the right conversation at the right time, the character — and the movie — finally came together.
“There’s no logic to it,” said Shelton. “It’s sort of the Hollywood dream.”