THELMA, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.


Revenge Has Never Been Sweeter

Inspired by a real-life experience of Margolin’s own grandmother, THELMA puts a clever spin on movies like MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE, shining the spotlight on an elderly grandmother as an unlikely action hero. With infectious humor, Margolin employs the familiar tropes of the action genre in hilarious, age-appropriate ways to tackle aging with agency. In the first leading film role of her 70-year career, Squibb portrays the strong-willed Thelma with grit and determination, demonstrating that she is more than capable of taking care of business – despite what her daughter Gail (Posey), son-in-law Alan (Gregg), or grandson Danny might believe.

The feature directorial debut of Josh Margolin, THELMA is a poignant action-comedy that gives veteran Oscar® nominee June Squibb (NEBRASKA) her first leading role and features the final performance of trailblazing actor Richard Roundtree (SHAFT). Squibb, who did most of her own stunts in the film, plays Thelma Post, a feisty 93-year-old grandmother who gets conned by a phone scammer pretending to be her grandson (The White Lotus’ Fred Hechinger) and sets out on a treacherous quest across Los Angeles, accompanied by an aging friend (Roundtree) and his motorized scooter, to reclaim what was taken from her. Parker Posey, Clark Gregg, and Malcolm McDowell also star.


My grandma refuses to die. She just turned 103 and has survived the Great Depression, WWII, the death of her husband, a double mastectomy, colon cancer, a valve replacement and an ongoing but allegedly-benign brain tumor. So, when she got duped by phone scammers a few years ago (and nearly sent them thousands of dollars for my “bail”), it pierced my long-standing belief that she was somehow infallible. A belief that brought me some kind of undue comfort throughout my own anxious existence. The inevitability of losing her has become increasingly real to me, and so has her dogged persistence to hold on to her sense of self, as her body and mind stubbornly slow.

I wrote Thelma from this place of reckoning. I wanted to explore her fight for what’s left of her autonomy just as I was beginning to consider mine. She has always been larger-than-life to me, and I felt compelled to dramatize her story with the trappings of a genre that captures her powerful spirit and celebrates her grit and tenacity – action. A twist on the classic “one last job” flick. Because as far as I’m concerned, watching my grandma get onto a high mattress is as thrilling and terrifying as Tom Cruise driving a motorcycle off a cliff. Just in a very different way.

The story is an epic journey on a granular scale because, for her, the little things present great dangers. I want the audience to feel these challenges viscerally, never making light of the strength it takes for her to move through the world. The film shrinks down the tropes of the action genre to a very human scale and uses them to explore aging, fragility, and anxiety. And I couldn’t imagine anyone doing this but June, who I feel so lucky to have gotten to work with. At 93-years-old, she left it all on the field, bringing equal parts vulnerability and resilience (as well as doing the majority of her own stunts). Thelma centers and celebrates her as well as those who would see themselves reflected in a type of action hero we rarely see.

– Josh Margolin


Director: Josh Margolin

Writer: Josh Margolin

Cast: June Squibb, Fred Hechinger, Richard Roundtree, Parker Posey, Clark Gregg, Malcolm McDowell

Producers: Zoë Worth, Chris Kaye, Karl Spoerri, Viviana Vezzani, Nicholas Weinstock, Benjamin Simpson

Executive Producers: Tobias Gutzwiller, Fed Hechinger, Tori Jimenez Kannegieter

THELMA is in theaters nationwide FRIDAY, JUNE 21st 2024
June 21, 2024