In the new movie Poms, Diane Keaton plays a woman who rallies her fellow retirement community residents to start a cheerleading squad
Screen legend Diane Keaton has added a new skill to her roster of cinematic talents: cheerleading, for her new comedy Poms.
PEOPLE has an exclusive first look at two photos from the film, which follows Martha (Keaton, 73), a retiree who rallies her fellow retirement community residents — played by Rhea Perlman, 70, Pam Grier, 69, Jacki Weaver, 71 and Celia Weston, 67 — to start a cheerleading squad.
The first photo, of the large group holding their pom poms, shows the newly-assembled squad in the midst of some reconnaissance that has surprising results.
“That’s when they find themselves at a pep rally with young cheerleaders,” says director Zara Hayes. “They’re watching 16, 17, 18-year-old-cheerleaders doing their thing for the first time in the film. It’s quite a shock to them how much cheerleading has changed.”
Hayes says getting the star-studded group of women together for Poms was due in part to “a bit of magic,” anchored by Oscar winner Keaton. “Because everybody wants to work with Diane Keaton,” she says.
She continues: “It’s like a masterclass in acting to work with any one of them, but to have the whole group of them together at any one time, a lot of the scenes are all the women together, and they just had a blast.”
One of Hayes’ favorite parts of filming was putting the women through a “boot camp” to learn dance and cheer choreography.
“It’s not like any of these women are dancers, they’ve never really been in a dance movie before,” she explains. “They had so much fun with the dancing, that’s when everyone really bonded and got to know each other. There’s something about movement and dancing that really breaks down any shyness or barriers. [It all] has to go out of the way when you’re in exercise gear dancing together.”
Another one of Hayes’ favorite moments during filming was “When Diane’s character first gets some pom poms that she hands out to the women,” she recalls. “When [the actresses] got them out of the box and they started shaking them and touching them, they were shaking them in each other’s faces and just having a riot with them.”
“It’s just been such a great opportunity to work with legends,” says Hayes of the cast, which also includes Phyllis Somerville, Charli Tahan, Alisha Boe and Bruce McGill. “Watching them work, seeing how open and gracious they were about working together, that was incredibly inspiring for me.”
Poms opens in theaters May 10.
— with reporting by Alexia Fernandez