Why I Love June Squibb So Much
If you know me at all, you know I love to reference June Squibb. Like, it's right up there with sleeping and playing video games on my list of favorite hobbies.
It's not because she has a funny name, or a funny persona, or that she's 86 and tends to play grandmothers with foul mouths (because it's apparently always funny when people who lived through the Depression, WWII, Civil Rights, Vietnam, Reagan and 9/11 say the word "fuck").
I love her because she's endured. Acting has to be one of the most psychologically difficult professions. Not in the same way being a soldier or an ER doctor or anything where lives are on the line, but in terms of the constant personal rejection. It's a lifetime of no. It's a lifetime of too fat, too tall, too gay, too black, too old, too this, too that. And that's why most people who don't find success early on drop out and become realtors.
I've wanted to stop doing this and become a realtor, like, every day since I began. It's fucking tough. I haven't had an agent in almost three years, no producers or bigwigs came to my solo SNL show even though I shouted about it from the rafters, and I know I'm a very difficult type to figure out because I'm built like Dauber from Coach but basically want to be Linda Hunt in everything I do.
I guess I just have a thing for underdogs. For unlikely success stories. For people who achieve their goals long after the world thinks they should've stopped. It's no coincidence I always rooted for the yellow-sweatered Team 3 in Supermarket Sweep growing up, even though they always had little or no chance of winning. They still gave it their all, despite the odds.
Sorry spry John Cleese character and everyone's slightly alcoholic neighbor Patsy, you're not going to beat Monica and Kennedi in the pink. But goddamnit, you're going to try.
So what does this have to do with June Squibb? Well, gurlfriend never stopped. She kept acting, and acting, and acting. She did Broadway in the 60s, theater all through the 70s and 80s. She made her film debut in Woody Allen's Alice in 1990 and age 61. She played tons of tiny, thankless grandmotherly roles on screen after that, with a few decent roles here and there (like when she was Jack Nicholson's wife in About Schmidt).
And then, at age 83, she gets cast in Alexander Payne's Nebraska as the opinionated, brusque wife of stoic Bruce Dern. And she goes to Cannes. And she gets all kinds of buzz. And she wins critics awards. And gets a Golden Globe nomination (not an easy feat when you're A) old and B) a no-name). And gets a Screen Actors Guild nomination. And she gets an Oscar nomination.
In her 80s.
When she's not some Jessica Tandy/Katharine Hepburn/Ruby Dee iconic elder actress in a glorious twilight role. Or she's not Gloria Stuart, a former star from the 30s making a comeback in a the biggest movie of all time up to that point. She's just a workhorse actress, a character actress, who no one knew who landed a plum role in a sparkling little indie film, and it took her all the way.
She could've become a realtor at any point. In 1965. In 1971. In March of 1983 she could've been like "fuck this noise, I'm selling condos." She could've said the same in October of 1997. She could've walked onto the set of the terrible horror film Would You Rather and been like "Nope. This is ridiculous. I'm hammering my face into lawns and talking to everyone about referrals for the rest of my life."
But she didn't. She kept going. Even though she was a unusual type, even though she'd faced god knows how much rejection, and suffered through god knows how many thankless roles. And she finally broke through.
Now, she gets scripts sent to her. She got to star in the huge ensemble Christmas movie Love The Coopers with Goddess herself, Diane Keaton and Marisa Tomei and John Goodman. And she's made guest appearances on like half a dozen popular TV shows. She's gotten to play Queen Elizabeth.
Who knows how much longer she can keep going, but you know she won't stop until her body stop hers. And that's what I love about June Squibb. She can't stop. Won't stop.
And she kicked all that rejection in the balls and made it, even if it took her 83 years.