‘I Decided, Oh To Hell With It’: June Squibb Talks About Doing Her Own Stunts For Thelma’s Hilarious Scooter Sequence

 June Squibb in scooter chase sequence in Thelma.
Credit: David Bolen/Magnolia Pictures

June Squibb has just joined the ranks of Tom Cruise. Yes, she does her own stunts. The 94-year-old actress is the latest summer action star with her excellent indie film on the 2024 movie schedule, Thelma. The earnest, but hilarious, movie that follows a grandma who becomes thirsty for revenge on a phone scammer who put her out $10,000 had Squibb surprising the crew (and herself) with just how much physicality she could bring to the role.

In one key sequence, June Squibb’s Thelma decides to run off with the adult scooter of her longtime friend Ben (played by the late Richard Roundtree) at a senior home. When speaking to CinemaBlend about shooting the scene, she recalled it being a blast on set. In her words:

Oh, the chase sequence, isn't that wonderful? I love that. When I zoomed past him in the car, that to me is one of the funniest things in the film. It was great. And, you know, it was fun in those halls because you're doing the corners, yet you've got a straightaway that you can let it go a little bit. It was just a lot of fun.

Thelma marks June Squibb’s first time leading her own flick, and she clearly took every opportunity to make it her own. The movie from writer-director Josh Margolin is based on his own phone scammer experience with his grandma, albeit without a scooter chase sequence in a senior home.

Squibb continued to talk about how that sequence came to be and what it was like filming it, saying:

Well, stopping [the scooter] was hard, but I learned how. I learned just stopping it doesn't do it, it always kind of bucked a little bit, but I learned how to do that. And, in the chase scene, they wanted me not to hit Richard. That, I was supposed to go right up to his scooter, and, but don't hit him. Don't run into it. And I decided, oh, to hell with it, I'm gonna run. So I just jammed into him, blah like that. And, so he was very surprised and they were all scared to death. They didn't know what I had done, but I zoomed off then in my scooter, so they realized I was all right and they got it all on film. So I was very pleased about that.

Squibb went above and beyond when it came to accomplishing the unique stunts of Thelma, even going a bit rogue and actually ramming into her co-star’s scooter in the scene. While she recalls everyone else on set being “scared to death” about her just going for it, she was very “pleased” with herself for the whole thing.

What’s particularly special about Thelma is how Margolin crafted action scenes for Squibb and Roundtree that cater to their age, but also forward the plot and make for entertaining scenes. Additionally, the film, which I would easily place high among the best 2024 movies, has a realistic and vital perspective on what people in their 90s go through emotionally that made me think of my own grandparents.

Elsewhere in the interview, I also asked Squibb what she learned about herself while leading her first film. Here’s what she said:

Well, I think like always when I do something, I learn more about myself as an actor, a performer. And I think I certainly did with this, just physically all these things that I was doing, and I truly didn't know if I could do them. And it just meant trying it and seeing what happens, and you do have to have a certain faith. You let everything go. You just simply let it all go and whatever happens, happens.

Squibb first earned mainstream Hollywood success only a decade ago with her 2014 Oscar nomination for Nebraska. It’s a joy to see the actress show that age is just a number, whilst also bringing a unique story with the perspective of a 93-year-old at the center.

You can see June Squibb in not one but two movies now playing in theaters -- Thelma and one of the year’s biggest hits, Inside Out 2. Check out what else Squibb said in our interview, specifically about a sweet memory of Richard Roundtree, here on CinemaBlend.