Actor, 94, Does Her Own Stunts in Film 'Thelma'

05:36 June 21, 2024

Actor, 94, Does Her Own Stunts in Film 'Thelma'

Actor June Squibb is the star of Thelma, a new action-comedy about a grandmother seeking revenge. Her part in the film required many physically demanding actions, called stunts.

Even though she is 94 years old, Squibb was able to complete many of the stunts herself. These included scenes where she had to repeatedly fall, as well as drive a motor scooter during a chase scene.

Squibb said she knew what she was getting into before she accepted the part, or role. She told Reuters news service, "It was great fun, and I came into it having read the script and deciding, 'Well, I think I could do that.'"

Thelma is about a grandmother who seeks revenge against telephone scammers. These phone criminals stole $10,000 of her savings. But the movie shows the scammers chose the wrong grandmother to cross. Squibb demonstrates Thelma’s revengeful ways by performing numerous stunts.

Most actors – even ones more than half her age – do not complete their own stunts. So, she had to persuade filmmakers that she could perform them effectively and safely.

Josh Margolin directed the film for Magnolia Pictures. He noted that one movie star who is known for doing his own stunts is Tom Cruise. He said that in Thelma, he saw Squibb successfully channel her "inner Tom Cruise."

Squibb noted she became more and more comfortable doing her own stunts as filming progressed, saying, "I got more crazy about it." She added that while she may be in her 90s, she still feels 35.

Squibb's level of energy was not surprising to Fred Hechinger, who plays her grandson in the film. He said, "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."

Squibb has played many different roles throughout her long movie career. She has also acted in plays on Broadway as well as in television shows. She was nominated for an Academy Award as best supporting actress for the 2013 film Nebraska.

While the film is a comedy, Margolin said it also shows how many scammers target older people. It even happened to his own grandmother.

Margolin said his grandmother received the same kind of money scam phone call as Thelma. And just like in the film, his family quickly became concerned. "And then luckily in real life," Margolin said, "we were able to step in before she sent the money."

He added, "The things she's doing are fictionalized but the character is still very drawn from a lot of elements of my real grandma.” Margolin said real-life moments and details were included in the film to demonstrate the real risk of such scams.

The film currently has a 99 percent rating on the website Rotten Tomatoes. And many film critics have particularly praised Squibb's performance.

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

One woman even showed Squibb 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.

Thelma arrives in U.S. theaters June 21.

I’m Anna Matteo.

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