Ask Alexander Payne (Sideways, The Descendants) why he decided to direct Nebraska — the only screenplay he’s ever shot that he didn’t write himself — and the first thing he brings up isn’t the story’s simplicity, depth, or humor (though he’ll mention those later). It’s the title. ”I don’t think the script would have reached me if it had been called South Carolina,” he says. ”I’m from Omaha, so I was eager to learn more about the rest of the state.”
He got his chance, filming the $13.5 million black-and-white indie dramedy about an old-timer named Woody (Bruce Dern) and his son (Will Forte), who set out on a cross-state road trip after Woody gets a letter saying he’s won a $1 million sweepstakes. ”He’s a guy who has probably lost at least one bank of lights in right field,” says Dern of his character’s wobbly mental state. The 77-year-old actor, who weathered a 30-year drought of starring roles, won the Best Actor prize at Cannes for the film this past spring. ”It’s the best part anyone has ever given me,” he says.
You Know Who’s Cool? June Squibb
Why She Looks Familiar The 77-year-old Illinois native has been acting for over 50 years on stage and in movies like Woody Allen’s Alice and Alexander Payne’s About Schmidt.
At Last As the straight-talking wife of Woody (Bruce Dern) in Nebraska, she’s earning the biggest buzz of her career. ”Everything she says is unfiltered,” says Squibb of her character. ”It was great fun to play her — I think my own mother had some of that in her.”
June’s Turn Her first big break: playing a stripper in the original 1959 Broadway production of Gypsy, starring Ethel Merman. ”She was a great broad. She loved to gossip,” says Squibb. ”And that voice!”
Up Next Squibb plays the grandmother of Lena Dunham’s Hannah in an arc of HBO’s Girls.