After being a beloved Hollywood figure for almost three decades, Jennifer Coolidge is finally getting the recognition she deserves. The star has been scooping up awards like nobody’s business for her inimitable and hysterical portrayal of Tanya McQuoid in Mike White’s hit series The White Lotus.
On Sunday evening, Coolidge took home the Critics Choice Award for best supporting actress in a drama series, after winning the Golden Globe last Tuesday for best performance by an actress in a supporting role in a limited series, anthology series, or motion picture made for television for season 2 of the HBO show. In September, Coolidge snagged the Emmy Award for outstanding supporting actress in a limited series or movie for season 1. Next up, she’s been nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award for outstanding performance by a female actor in a drama series.
“I just want to say to all the people out there, for anyone that’s sort of given up hope, I hope this gives you inspiration,” Coolidge said at the 2023 Critics Choice Awards. “It’s not over until it’s over. It’s not over ’til you’re dead! Thank you so much.”
In keeping with this sentiment, Coolidge previously thanked the people who “kept me going” throughout her years in the industry with “these little jobs” at the 2023 Golden Globes, from Ryan Murphy and Sex and the City’s Michael Patrick King to Reese Witherspoon, Paul and Chris Weitz for American Pie, and of course, Mike White.
Coolidge explained that she’d become disenchanted with the entertainment industry throughout the years. “Truly, I just want you all to know that I had such big dreams and expectations as a younger person but what happened was, they get sort of fizzled by life,” she said. “Mike White, you’ve given me hope. You’ve given me a new beginning, even though this is the end because you did kill me off but it doesn’t matter because even if this is the end you sort of changed my life in a million different ways.”
Known for her instantly recognizable breathy voice, Coolidge’s debut television credit came with a guest appearance in the fifth season of Seinfeld in 1993. The acclaimed actress went on to steal the show with parts in Frasier, Friends, Nip/Tuck, Sex and the City, King of the Hill, Glee, 2 Broke Girls to name a few TV series. She snagged her big movie role as Stifler’s mom in the American Pie franchise in 1999, and went on to spin comedic gold out of roles in Christopher Guest’s Best in Show, Legally Blonde, A Cinderella Story, The Watcher, The White Lotus, and so many more.
Set to bring the laughs in the upcoming Prime Video rom-com Shotgun Wedding alongside Jennifer Lopez, Josh Duhamel, and Lenny Kravitz, Coolidge will also be reprising her role as Paulette Bonafonté in the third installment of the Legally Blonde franchise with Witherspoon, written by Mindy Kaling.
Below, GRAZIA USA has rounded up some of Coolidge’s must-see performances in honor of her sweeping awards season. One thing’s for sure, we can’t get enough of Jennifer Coolidge.
American Pie (1999)
Popularly regarded as Coolidge’s breakout role, the actress starred as Stifler’s mom in the American Pie film franchise. At the 2023 Golden Globes, Coolidge credited director Paul Weitz and producer Chris Weitz for their support throughout her career. “The Weitz brothers kept me going with like five—cause some of these things would go like five different episodes or you know, five different sequels of American Pie,” she said. “I milked that to the bone. I’m still going for 6 or 7 — whatever they want.” Coolidge reprised her role as Jeanine Stifler in American Pie 2 in 2001, American Wedding in 2003 and American Reunion in 2012.
Best in Show (2000)
In Christoper Guest’s 2000 mockumentary Best in Show, Coolidge starred as Sherri Ann Cabot, the glamorous owner of an award-winning poodle and the young wife to a wealthy, elderly gentleman who rarely speaks. (“We could not talk, or talk forever.”) Coolidge starred alongside Jane Lynch, Catherine O’Hara, and her American Pie costar Eugene Levy in the cult-beloved comedy. In 2021, Levy told Vulture, “She is her own comedic universe in or out of character.”
A known fan of Coolidge’s, pop star Ariana Grande even recreated scenes from the film in 2022 with Elizabeth Gillies, and shared footage on Instagram for Halloween. Coolidge famously made a cameo appearance in Grande’s music video for “Thank U, Next.”
Coolidge went on to star in more films by Guest including A Mighty Wind in 2003, For Your Consideration in 2006 and Mascots in 2016.
Legally Blonde (2001)
Jennifer Coolidge is known for so many of her iconic roles, but one that is a forever favorite, is her stint as the supportive and somewhat naive manicurist Paulette Bonafonté in 2001’s Legally Blonde. Coolidge reprised the character for Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde in 2003. We can’t think of hot dogs on the Fourth of July without hearing her hilarious line from the sequel, “You look like the Forth of July! It makes me want a hot dog real bad.”
Coolidge appeared on The Jess Cagle Show joking that Witherspoon better get working on Legally Blonde 3 (Mindy Kaling signed on to write the script) so she can finally get some new material to escape the hot dog obsession. “I really felt like this year, I was like, okay, alright. I’ve really done this Fourth of July thing and I’m gonna have to insist to Reese that we make it this year because I’m not gonna make it… I can’t do it next year. I can’t. I need new material.”
A Cinderella Story (2004)
Coolidge played Hilary Duff’s evil stepmother Fiona Montgomery in 2004’s A Cinderella Story. Duff portrayed Sam, the hardworking waitress and high school student who dreamed of attending Princeton one day. When her father dies in an earthquake, his second wife Fiona (Coolidge) took over the family diner.
Fiona spent lavishly, getting $150 manicures, Botox, a tanning bed, and eating a Norwegian Salmon diet. Coolidge delivered the often referenced line, “You’re not very pretty, and you’re not very bright. I’m so glad we had that talk.”
The White Lotus (Season 1, 2021 & Season 2, 2022)
Sparking a career renaissance for the actress, The White Lotus creator Mike White wrote the character of the insecure and flaky socialite Tanya McQuoid specifically with Coolidge in mind. After meeting the heiress on her travels to spread her mother’s ashes in Hawaii in season 1, Tanya finds herself in some hot water in Sicily in season 2. The fan-favorite role has garnered Coolidge an Emmy Award, a Golden Globe, a Critics Choice Award, and a SAG nomination.
The Watcher (2022)
Reuniting with show-runner and filmmaker Ryan Murphy, Coolidge portrays the ambitious and shifty real estate agent Karen Calhoun in the Netflix limited-series The Watcher. Based on notorious real life events in New Jersey, the true crime series sees Karen encourage the Brannock family (Naomi Watts and Bobby Cannavale) to put their new home back on the market after receiving ominous, anonymous letters.
Coolidge paid homage to Murphy in her Golden Globes speech, crediting him with helping her throughout lulls of her career with parts in Glee, Nip/Tuck, and more. “I just want to say — some of the people in this room — there were like five people that kept me going for 20 years with these little jobs, and Ryan Murphy, you were one of them,” she said. “These little jobs kept me going. It was you, Ryan, and let’s see we’ve got — well who else was there? It was just you, Ryan.”