Watch June Squibb, 94, ram the late Richard Roundtree with a motorized scooter in “Thelma” clip

Watch June Squibb, 94, ram the late Richard Roundtree with a motorized scooter in “Thelma” clip

"We told her to do this very lightly, but she was like, 'I'm just going to go for it. I'm just going to ram him.'"

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Even Shaft can't stop this grandma from getting her revenge.

In her first leading film role, Oscar-nominated Nebraska actress June Squibb, 94, and the late Richard Roundtree (of Shaft fame) star in the upcoming heartwarming comedy Thelma. A fun twist on movies such as Mission: Impossible, the film turns the eponymous 93-year-old granny into an action star, chronicling her quest to recover the money she lost to a scammer. It's loosely based on a real-life incident that actor-turned-director Josh Margolin experienced with his grandma, whom he named the movie after. (Fortunately, Margolin's family intervened before the real Thelma lost any money).

As Thelma's daughter (Parker Posey), son-in-law (Clark Gregg), and grandson (Fred Hechinger) worry that the incident is a sign she needs to be cared for in an assisted living facility, the fiercely independent matriarch secretly makes plans to go after the scammers and recover the money herself. But first, she needs to ditch her driver, her loving grandson, Danny, who has been tasked with keeping an eye on her following the scam. So she asks him to take her to see her friend, Ben (Roundtree), at his assisted living facility. But when her straight-laced buddy refuses to become her partner in crime, Thelma steals his wheels — a motorized scooter — and makes a break for it.

<p>Courtesy of Sundance Institute; photo by David Bolen</p> Richard Roundtree and June Squibb in 'Thelma'

Courtesy of Sundance Institute; photo by David Bolen

Richard Roundtree and June Squibb in 'Thelma'

"I feel like that scene is when things ratchet up into what the second half of the movie becomes," Margolin says of the clip, debuting exclusively above on EW. "It's a mini version of a car chase, if you will. When we first got that scooter, we realized it could go up to about 25-30 miles an hour; we ended up putting a limiter on it because we were like, this is insane. But what was really cool was that June was really game and excited to do as much of the scooter driving herself as possible, which was not something we went into the shoot planning on doing. But it became clear as things progressed that, basically, that was the only way it was going to be. Once she got on that scooter, she was like, 'I want to do this.'"

That intrepid spirit is part of the reason Margolin knew Squibb was the perfect choice to play his feisty grandma. "There's a reason she was right for the part," he says with a laugh. "She has that spirit; she has that tenacity, and that scene was both stressful to film and also a lot of fun."

While the first-time director notes that he had a "great" stunt team keeping an eye on the nonagenarian performers during the action set pieces, he admits that, like her character, Squibb wasn't afraid to go her own way. In the scooter chase sequence, Ben physically stops Thelma as she's about to leave the assisted living facility by stepping in front of the scooter.

Squibb previously told EW she was "eager" to do her own stunts, and that she even impressed the stunt [coordinator] with her scooter-driving skills, who told her she was "able to stop it better than his stunt people did."

Her skills extended beyond being able to stop it; she was just supposed to gently bump into Roundtree when he was also on a scooter during that assisted living home sequence, but she had something else in mind. "This was a fairly new one and they said, 'Just tap his scooter. Don't try to do too much, we'll fix it'," Squibb explained. "But I decided, oh, what the hell? So I powwed into him like that and they were all, "Oh! Oh! My God!" [Laughs] But they got it. They got the shot of me hitting the scooter and then I just zoomed right off."

"I thought that was a mistake on the day," Margolin recalls now. "I thought she kind of lost her grip a little bit, hit him a little harder, and we were like, 'Okay, nope, Let's take it back.' But according to her, this was all part of the plan."

Just like Thelma, Margolin says Squibb "had her own secret plans that day."

Find out if she gets her revenge when Thelma speeds into theaters on June 21.

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