June Squibb Defies Age With Her Latest Role in 'Thelma'


The former supporting actress Oscar nominee (Nebraska) plays a woman of retirement age who takes matters into her own hands after being scammed, in the funniest film you'll see all year.

Thelma, the new action-comedy from writer-director Josh Margolis, stars the incomparable June Squibb as Thelma, a widow who gets scammed out of $60,000 by a group of nefarious telemarketers. Refusing to let the thieves get away with her money, Thelma sets out across Los Angeles on a scooter to enact her own brand of revenge. Along the way, she enlists the help of her neighbor (Shaft's Richard Roundtree), as well as a group of her fellow retirees (including Tyne Daly). The film is a hilarious and uplifting caper that aims straight for the heart.

"I felt I understood her before I went in to shoot it," Squibb says of her character, whom Margolis based on his own grandmother. "I knew who she was and what she was about and why she was doing what she was doing and what she wanted."

Squibb, who turned 93 while shooting the movie, adds, "I've had so many people come up to me and say that they were scammed or their parents were scammed or somebody they knew. It's just a scourge."

In recent years, Squibb has become something of a go-to actress for sentimental directors looking to craft a moment or bolster a role with the gravitas that only an experienced actor can provide. But she almost didn't get the chance to play Thelma.

"I never thought that much about it," Squibb says of landing the movie's lead role. "The script was so great and for me that's what's exciting, to read a script and say, 'Oh, boy, there's something here I really want to do to be a part of.' I never thought in terms of being a leading role. I dealt with it the same way that I do everything. I really study the script a lot, for hours and hours and hours, so when I go into it I know the script very well."

And if the role of Thelma didn't come along, Squibb says she would have been "absolutely" fine with continuing her retirement. But now that she's had a taste of leading roles, she's open to more.

"If I have things I want to do, I want to continue," she says. "If roles come up that are interesting or I can work with people who are interesting, I would love to do it. Physically, I have to think in terms of what I can and can't do. And if what I can't do is fine with the director or the producers, then we'll do it."

In addition to Thelma, Squibb has four other films pending release, including Disney Pixar's Inside Out 2, in which she voices the character of Nostalgia.

"I play Nostalgia," Squibb says. "She comes too early, because the girl is a teenager. Pixar is great fun to do. I enjoy doing voiceovers. They're fun. You're usually dealing with crazy characters and they push you farther than most scripts do. And I like working for [Pixar]. They're good people and the directors are good. It's all just a very positive

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