Nonagenarian June Squibb wows with own stunts in ‘Thelma’

Squibb channelled her inner Tom Cruise in the action spoof

News Desk June 26, 2024
Squibb may be in her 90s, but doesn’t feel a day older than 35. Photo: File


At 94 years old, actor June Squibb had to convince filmmakers that she could do a lot of her own stunts in the action-packed comedy film Thelma, about a grandmother seeking revenge, reported Reuters.

“It was great fun, and I came into it having read the script and deciding, ‘Well, I think I could do that,’” Squibb said of her first-ever leading role. She did almost all of the motor scooter stunts and a physically demanding scene in an antique store.

According to Forbes, Squibb has nursed a lifelong passion for action films. “There was a period in my life where I saw every action film made,” enthused the actor. “I love the Mission Impossible movies, and I’ve seen every one of them. I even watched the old TV show that inspired them. I love Bruce Willis, especially all of his early films, and I love Jason Statham. I think they’re great.”

The Magnolia Pictures film, directed by Josh Margolin, follows a grandmother named Thelma who goes on a stunt-filled rampage to seek revenge against telephone scammers who took $10,000 of her savings. The film also stars Fred Hechinger, who portrays Thelma’s grandson.

Margolin said Squibb channelled her “inner Tom Cruise” very effectively as she became more and more comfortable doing her own stunts as filming progressed. “I got more crazy about it,” Squibb said, noting that while she may be in her 90s, she feels 35.

Thelma arrived in theatres on June 21. Squibb’s level of energy was not surprising to Hechinger after seeing her work prior to filming Thelma. “We met before we started filming, we just developed a friendship and a kind of artistic kinship, so I was well aware of her magic,” Hechinger said.

Coming from a career spanning from Broadway to film and television, Squibb has portrayed a diversity of roles throughout her decades-long career. She was nominated for an Academy Award as best supporting actress for the 2013 film Nebraska.

While the film is a comedy, for Margolin, it sheds light on how many elderly people are targeted by scammers, including his own grandmother. “My grandma got a call like that, my family got concerned like that, and then luckily in real life we were able to step in before she sent the money,” Margolin said.

“The things she’s doing are fictionalised but the character is still very drawn from a lot of elements of my real grandma, and little moments and little details and little phrases are kind of woven throughout there,” Margolin added.

The film currently has a 98% rating on the review aggregator website, Rotten Tomatoes, with many critics praising Squibb’s performance.

For Squibb, it’s especially important that women around her age can see the movie. “We have been at screenings, and especially older women are seeing it and coming out just glowing. They just are enjoying it so much,” Squibb said.

“One woman showed us what she would do if she had a scooter. She went through the whole thing of riding a scooter for us. I just think that’s wonderful. I’m so proud of that, that someone can see it and it can give them such joy,” Squibb added.


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