With a career spanning three decades, Boston actress Jennifer Coolidge is a more versatile actress than some may expect. Golden Globe, Emmy, and Screen Actor Guild Award Winner, Coolidge demonstrates that she can be more than just Stifler’s hot mom in the “American Pie,” series.
While she’s best known for her comedically nasal voice, Coolidge has ventured outside of her norm, expanding on various types of characters throughout her film and television career. Her absurd yet lovable femininity is the highlight of the characters she plays, and she’s oftentimes the highlight of the media she stars in.
Although Coolidge has been primarily cast in minor supporting roles, it’s never stopped her from giving performances that audiences wouldn’t forget. She’s overcome being type-cast as the usually dumb blonde and is finally being recognized for the versatility of her work. Whether you’ve long been a fan of Coolidge or not, now is the perfect opportunity to appreciate just what Coolidge is capable of.
Here are two television shows and two movies featuring the ever-iconic Jennifer Coolidge.
The White Lotus
Over two seasons, an impressive ensemble of guests of this dark comedy satire have so far visited Hawaii and Sicily with individual overlapping stories which ultimately unravel as the end of their stays approach.
Coolidge is Tanya McQuoid, an overly emotional, lonely, and odd woman, as she navigates her wealth, the loss of her mother, and a budding romance. McQuoid is the only character from season one to return to season two. Yes, McQuoid is needy, insecure, and sometimes annoying, but fans took a liking to her complex character. Though McQuoid has her moments of snobbery and ignorance, she also has times of pain and hurt, and it can be easy to sympathize with her.
The White Lotus is smart and addicting, and Coolidge brings the perfect energy to the middle-aged McQuoid, who viewers love to hate, and love to love.
This Netflix mystery thriller follows a married couple, Nora and Dean, and their children as they move into their dream home at 657 Boulevard but quickly receive threatening letters from “The Watcher.” Loosely based on the article “The Haunting of a Dream House,” featured in “The Cut” in 2018, Coolidge plays Karen Calhoun, an old friend of Nora, and the realtor who sells the chilling “dream house.”
Despite the ominous themes, Calhoun provides some comedic (and strange) relief, the real-estate diva full of one-liners that once again create a space for Coolidge to steal the show.
Vulture compiled a list with time stamps of everything Calhoun says, from “Eat a dick, Stephanie,” to “Payback’s a bitch!” and claiming that New York will be underwater “in like five years.”
Calhoun is a somewhat complex character, acting suspiciously enough to where she’s accused of being the Watcher, though her ability to pull off such an act is questionable.
A Cinderella Story
Perhaps one of Coolidge’s most iconic roles, she is Fiona, the evil stepmother of Sam (Hilary Duff) in the teen comedy romance “A Cinderella Story.” Once again, playing a ridiculous character, Fiona loves to bully Sam and make herself look pretty, Botox and all.
In her most classic (and harshest) line, she tells her stepdaughter, “There’s something I’ve always wanted to tell you, and I think you’re ready to hear it. You’re not very pretty, and you’re not very bright. Oh, I’m so glad we had that talk.” Fiona’s ridiculousness is the perfect energy for Coolidge; her nasally voice and ultra-pink wardrobe results in a wacky character the audience loves to hate but is entertaining to laugh at.
Though viciously brutal, audiences can’t help but laugh at Fiona’s comments, all while also rooting for her downfall. With such a nonsensical spirit, it’s hard to imagine anyone else doing a better job than Coolidge in this hysterical role.
We all know the infamous scene. “Are ya lost?” Coolidge’s character asks Finch, a friend of her son, Stifler. With a drink in hand and lighting a smoke with the other, she effortlessly seduces Finch and eventually sleeps with him.
Though not a profound character, her role as Stifler’s mom earned her the title of “MILF,” and the legacy of it has stuck with her for years. Coolidge reprised her role in all three sequels, “American Pie 2,” “American Wedding,” and “American Reunion.”
As Coolidge begins to take on roles that go against her typical ones, she shows that she’s more than just an ignorant MILF, evil stepmother, or dumb blonde. And it is thrilling to imagine the roles she will take on in the future. She’s many viewers’ favorite camp individual, and as she embraces this, she also ventures into new territory, where she is challenged to maintain absurd energy amongst the seriousness.
There’s no telling what role she’ll take on next, though, based on what we’ve seen her do so far, you won’t want to miss it.