What a performance June Squibb was able to squeeze in Nebraska! Her role in the father and son family “road drama” directed by Alexander Payne earned the veteran actress a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actress. "I'm going to have a hell of a time at the Golden Globes," she says enthusiastically. "I'll have to watch my mouth, though," she adds with a wink.
The 77 year-old, Illinois native, straight talks her way through the movie as Kate, Bruce Dern's wife and Will Forte's mother, getting the biggest kick of her career. "Everything Kate says is unfiltered," says Squibb about her character. "It was great fun to play her - I think my own mother had some of that in her. Yes, I channeled a little bit of my mom in that role, now that I think of it!”
Squibb was born and raised in Vandalia, Illinois. Her mother was an avid golfer and well-known piano player who began playing for silent movies in the 1920s. Her father was in the insurance business and was in the Navy during World War II. June is the widow of renowned acting teacher Charles Kakatsakis (1929–1999), with whom she has one child, Harry Kakatsakis, a filmmaker best known for his short film Admissions. June started her career in musical theater in St. Louis, and trained at the Cleveland Play House, and also trained at the HB Studio after moving to New York City.
Mrs. Squibb's first big break came playing a stripper in the original 1959 Broadway production of Gypsy, with Ethel Merman. "What a great broad she was!" quips Squibb. That same year she performed in an Off-Broadway revival of Lend an Ear, starring Elizabeth Allen. She next appeared in The Happy Time, which opened in 1968 and was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Musical. In 1995 she appeared in the play Sacrilege on Broadway, with Ellen Burstyn. June has also played many roles in national tours, regional theater summer stock, and Off-Broadway. In 2012 she played the matriarch Stella Gordon in Dividing the Estate at the Dallas Theater Center for which she received standout reviews.
Throughout the years she played supporting roles in films like Alice, Scent of a Woman, The Age of Innocence, In & Out, and Far from Heaven. She has also performed in television series such as Ghost Whisperer. She notably played the wife of Jack Nicholson's character in Alexander Payne's About Schmidt (2002). Payne loved her performance and basically wrote the role of Kate in Nebraska with her in mind. "None other than June would have played that role on my book, and none could have done better." He says.
She has been in popular TV series such as Curb Your Enthusiasm, Judging Amy, Ghost Whisperer and most recently appeared in HBO’s new dramedy Getting On. When asked about ageism in show business, June commented, "Well, it’s like anything else. I always feel, rules are meant to be broken.” In reality, she never wanted to think about it: “I started working at the Cleveland Playhouse in 1952 and I have just never stopped”, she told the HFPA during a recent interview. “I always worked on stage, film and television, and I simply wouldn’t know what life would be without it. My son grew up with me doing this, all his life, everybody in the family did, so we never thought much about it!”
Up next, Squibb plays the grandmother of Lena Dunham's Hannah in HBO's Girls, and will appear in the TV series The Millers. "Not bad for a 77 year-old grandma like me, don't you think?" she asks. We totally agree.