Skip To Content

    These Movie Roles Prove Jennifer Coolidge Is A Timeless Luminary And We Are Her Mere Disciples

    So many more Coolidge-inducing laughs to come!

    Campy, funny, dynamo actor of multiple generations with awardworthy shiny teeth: These are just a few things we’ve appreciated about Jennifer Coolidge since she took on the role of Tanya in HBO Max’s The White Lotus.

    HBO / Via giphy.com

    No doubt, in all of your years of streaming and bingeing, the veteran actor has come into your radar at some point or other. While appearing in movies and comedy shows before her big break in the '90s, Coolidge won over fans when she took on the role of "Stifler's mom" in the 1999 hit American Pie

    Since then, she’s appeared in various shows and movies, stealing scenes despite only ever taking on the part of a sidekick or foil to actual main characters. Sure, Coolidge’s latest role in White Lotus has underlined that she’s an actor who can uphold main character storylines, but if you’re searching for a better understanding of her scope as an actor, look no further! We’ve put together a list of some of her most dynamic roles below.

    Best in Show (2000)

    Patrick Cranshaw stars along Coolidge
    Warner Bros. Pictures

    In 2000, famed critic Roger Ebert likened Jennifer Coolidge’s role in this mockumentary to the now-late early '00s sensation Anna Nicole Smith. He wasn’t totally far off; in her role as Sherri Ann Cabot, Coolidge plays a healthily Botoxed and siliconed wife of a geriatric millionaire. 

    It’s not long before it’s revealed that she’s in a fun relationship with her poodle’s trainer, Christy Cummings (Jane Lynch). In her role, Coolidge steals the show with her complete lack of interest in her poodle’s performance, superficial observations about her lover Christy, and attempts to give her a makeover. 

    Legally Blonde (2001)

    Coolidge as Paulette in Legally Blonde
    MGM

    If your first time encountering Coolidge wasn't while watching Best in Show, it's likely you fell in love with her at first when she took on the role of Paulette in Legally Blonde. Upon her first introduction, Paulette seems to be a sweet nail technician who gives Elle relationship advice despite having real love problems of her own. 

    Despite having a gross ex-husband and a distant crush on the mailman, Paulette exudes happiness and has an amazing style of her own. The more we learn about her, the more we discover that Paulette isn’t the type that typically runs in Elle’s crowd, but Coolidge’s grasp on Paulette helps the character hold her own. “I'm a middle-aged, high school dropout with stretch marks and a fat ass,” Paulette says, delivering one of the most iconic lines of cinematic history.

    Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (2009)

    Coolidge starred as Genevieve McDonagh in Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans
    First Look Studios

    Rare are the cinematic opportunities to see Jennifer Coolidge slip into a dramatic role. In Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, Coolidge stars alongside Nicolas Cage and Eva Mendes as stepmom to Cage. To support her alcoholic husband’s steps to recovery, Coolidge gives up drinking herself. 

    Sure, her appearances are brief, but there’s no doubt that Coolidge (long considered a queen of camp) manages to shine through as a drama queen in this movie about a drug-addled detective solving murders in post-Katrina. 

    Austenland (2013)

    Coolidge stars alongside Kerri Russel in Austenland
    Sony Pictures

    It's a truth universally known that a true tell of talent lies in the ability to hold your own in the Regency era! This farcical fantasy revolves around a vacation getaway spot akin to Westworld, where Jane Austen's early 19th-century novels come to life, underperform at the box office, and don't get the greatest reviews. Still, the movie's storyline and aesthetics have earned a real place of love in the heart of true Austen fans

    No doubt Coolidge's role in the movie as Elizabeth Charming is proof that Regency novels require a new staple character with her characteristics and motivations (and Coolidge to pull it all off). In her role as Ms. Charming, Coolidge plays the part of a middle-aged and wealthy woman with a very healthy libido. Throughout Austenland, she delivers the inappropriate Anglo stereotypes like, “Right-o!" and, “The British are coming!"

    The White Lotus (2021)

    Coolidge as Tanya McQuoid in White Lotus
    HBO

    "Wheeheee!" There’s a reason why Jennifer Coolidge and her role in HBO's White Lotus gained such acclaim. Arguably, of all of the storylines on the series, Coolidge’s character has one with the lowest of stakes.

    Still, Coolidge’s ability to tackle a character with such big emotion says so much about her ability to merge her camp tools of acting with her ability to fully understand and appreciate a character’s strife and struggles. Coolidge’s performance as the unsteady and overly attached Tanya McQuoid says so much about what we can expect from the actor in her roles to come.

    What's your favorite Jennifer Coolidge role? Let us know in the comments!