Actress from Vandalia plays a wife ‘so unfiltered’ in ‘Nebraska’
BY CINDY PEARLMAN For Sun-Times Media November 20, 2013 11:15PM
The wife she plays opposite Bruce Dern in “Nebraska” is “so unfiltered,” says June Squibb, who grew up in Illinois. | PARAMOUNT VANTAGE
Updated: December 23, 2013 1:45PM
LOS ANGELES — June Squibb isn’t the lady next door. Or that nice mom who makes the really good brownies for the school bake sale.
She’s the actress from Vandalia, Ill., who might just be nabbing a best supporting actress Oscar for her role as Bruce Dern’s never-happy, shoot-from-the-hip wife Kate in the film “Nebraska.”
Already, Miss June has a big cheering section — including that other Illinois native who plays her screen husband.
“It’s about time that Hollywood lets June Squibb get out there and be Rosalind Russell,” Dern says. “She’s one of the best actresses I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with and someone who is always full of surprises. And she’s beautiful, a lovely person to boot.”
No one is more surprised about all this hoopla than Squibb, 84. Ask her: Did the people of Vandalia ever think that she was headed for stardom?
“They all thought I was too smart for my own good!” says the good-natured Squibb. “I remember that later in my career after I had been to New York and working, I came home and I think people were surprised. They were like, ‘June, you’re doing WHAT?’ Maybe they were a little bit intimidated by the idea of going out there and trying to be in show business.”
She is being singled out now as one of the highlights of “Nebraska.” where she plays the acid-tongued Kate who still thinks all the boys wanted to get in her knickers. Now, she’s a senior living in Montana with her husband Woody (Dern). He gets one of those mailings saying he has won a million bucks from a publishing house and wants to go to the Nebraska headquarters to claim his prize.
“She thinks he’s just plain crazy,” says Squibb. “She’s this strong woman who can’t believe her husband will do anything including walk from Montana to Nebraska to claim what is certainly a bogus nothing. But he’s determined. And she wants to stop him for his own good.”
Squibb says that she didn’t base the role on family members. “I didn’t think of my mother or my aunts,” she says.”I just thought about all these women who have a tough exterior, but deep down they love their family. They would do anything for family.”
In Vandalia, Squibb’s mother played piano for the silent movies in the 1920s. “I always saw some of my mother in myself,” she says. “I had that need to perform.”
Her long list of screen credits includes “Scent of a Woman” (1992), “The Age of Innocence” (1993), “Meet Joe Black” (1998) and most memorably playing the short-lived Helen Schmidt, Jack Nicholson’s wife, in “About Schmidt” (2002), by “Nebraska” director Alexander Payne. She was the woman who made Nicholson sit down each and every time he used the bathroom.
As for Oscar talk, she says, “It’s just beyond anything I can think of right now.”
The real win is the film. “How often does any actress get to play someone so unfiltered? I know women like that. I love women like that!”
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