Thanks to her role in The White Lotus, Jennifer Coolidge is finally gaining the recognition that she deserves, and we can’t get enough of her. But you might be surprised to learn how extensive her career was even before starring in this hit series.
The Jennifer Coolidge Resurgence
Coolidge has been famous for a few decades, but she’s never been a big star. She usually plays supporting characters like the quirky best friend (Legally Blonde) or the friend’s hot mom (American Pie). In 2018, Coolidge reprised her role as Paulette from Legally Blonde in the music video for Ariana Grande’s hit song, “thank u, next.” She credits Grande’s video for relaunching her career, which landed her a small role in the movie Promising Young Woman, which she believes helped propel her to HBO’s show The White Lotus and superstar status in 2021. The show was not only a huge hit but has earned Coolidge numerous awards. In 2023, she went viral for her hilarious and heartfelt acceptance speech at the Golden Globes.
So why is everyone obsessed with the Jennifer Coolidge resurgence? The simple answer is that people love her and are happy to finally see her get the roles and recognition she deserves. She’s a talented actress, has a good sense of humor, and has a good work ethic due to how long it took her to reach A-list status. She’s also sweet and relatable, and it doesn't appear to be an act – she’s not pretending to be something she’s not, which is refreshing to see in Hollywood. She seems like a genuinely kind person, making it easy for audiences to root for her.
Actors like Brendan Frasier and Ke Huy Quan have also gone viral for their own recent career comebacks. Like Coolidge, both men seem to be genuinely kind and hardworking people. We love watching good people succeed, and Jennifer Coolidge epitomizes this phenomenon.
Without further adieu, it’s time to break down some of Coolidge’s best movies and TV shows so you can experience this iconic blonde bombshell in her most memorable roles.
In this adorable rom-com, Keri Russell is Jane, a modern woman obsessed with Jane Austen and determined to find her Mr. Darcy. She travels to Austenland for an immersive Jane Austen experience and befriends Elizabeth Charming (Jennifer Coolidge), who helps Jane find her perfect man.
14. 2 Broke Girls
It’s safe to say that Coolidge was the best part of this underrated sitcom. She plays Max (Kat Dennings) and Caroline’s (Beth Behrs) neighbor, Sophie, a peculiar Polish woman with no filter. She enjoys oversharing stories of her sex life and her childhood in Communist Poland. This show might not be your cup of tea, but it’s worth watching to see Coolidge in all her comedic glory.
13. The Secret Life of the American Teenager
Even for the 2000s, Secret Life was an unconventional show, but Coolidge brought her signature sense of humor and warmth to it. She plays Betty, a former prostitute with a heart of gold who teaches her stepson, Ben (Kenny Baumann), several life lessons about relationships. This role proves she’s more than a comedic actress, making this one of her most underrated characters yet.
12. Shotgun Wedding
This movie is not only a great addition to the recent resurgence of romantic comedies, but Coolidge plays a hilarious role as Tom’s (Josh Duhamel) mom. She might be Darcy’s (Jennifer Lopez) worst nightmare as a mother-in-law, but her quirkiness and lack of self-awareness are comedy gold.
11. For Your Consideration
Directed by Christopher Guest, this comedy follows actors starring in a fictional movie that is generating Oscar buzz. Coolidge always does a great job of playing funny and ditzy characters in Guest’s movies, and her role as a clueless producer in For Your Consideration will leave you roaring with laughter.
10. Promising Young Woman
Coolidge plays a small part as Cassie’s (Carey Mulligan) mother in this black comedy thriller, but it was one of the first roles in her resurgence in Hollywood. The movie has an interesting take on the modern feminist movement and can be interpreted in several different ways, making it worth watching despite Coolidge’s small role.
9. A Mighty Wind
This comedy tells the quirky story of fictional folk bands from the 1960s. Coolidge plays a ditzy PR executive with no personality outside her looks, but her facial expressions, unusual accent, and strange mannerisms will crack you up.
8. Best in Show
Of all the Christopher Guest movies that feature Coolidge, this is easily the funniest one. This mockumentary explores the wacky world of dog shows. Coolidge plays Sheri Ann, an overly competitive wife of a sugar daddy who will do anything to help her poodle win. It’s irreverent and campy, but it’s impossible not to laugh out loud.
7. American Pie
American Pie is famous for its crass humor, but it’s impossible not to laugh while watching it. In this comedy that tells the story of a group of friends who make a pact to lose their virginities before graduating high school, Coolidge plays Stifler’s (Seann Scott) mom who hilariously seduces the dorky Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas), marking the beginning of their unconventional relationship.
6. American Reunion
American Reunion is the sequel to American Pie. It takes place 13 years later, and it’s where Coolidge is at her funniest. When Jim (Jason Biggs) wants his dad (Eugene Levy) to break his dry spell, he doesn’t expect Stifler’s mom (Coolidge) to be up to her old tricks, and hilarity ensues.
5. The Watcher
Inspired by true events, this psychological thriller series tells the story of a family that moves into their dream home, only to discover that they have a stalker. Coolidge provides comic relief by playing Karen, an overzealous realtor who not-so-secretly wants the house for herself. Come for the spooky mystery, but stay for the laughs.
4. The White Lotus
This dark comedy-drama anthology series is perfect for Coolidge, so it’s no wonder she plays its most memorable character. Tonya is so hilariously out of touch with reality that she makes the women on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills look self-aware. She’s the character you love to hate and the role that won her an Emmy Award, Golden Globe, and several other prestigious awards.
3. Legally Blonde 2: Red, White, and Blonde
Coolidge reprises her iconic role as Paulette in this sequel to Legally Blonde. She plays a pivotal role in one of the movie’s most memorable scenes with the hilarious line about Elle’s (Reese Witherspoon) red, white, and blue outfit.
2. A Cinderella Story
Coolidge’s take on the evil stepmother from Cinderella is nothing short of comedy gold. In A Cinderella Story, she goes out of her way to make Sam’s (Hilary Duff) life miserable by working at her diner instead of having a social life. Coolidge does a great job playing a character that’s selfish, shallow, and funny all at the same time.
1. Legally Blonde
In one of the most iconic movies ever made, Coolidge plays Paulette, a nail stylist who Elle befriends when she first gets to Harvard. Both women work together to help each other out and bring out the best in each other, showing the strength and beauty in female friendships. And who can forget the scene where Elle helps Paulette get her dog back from her ex? It’s what cinematic dreams are made of.
From her iconic roles in Legally Blonde and American Pie to her hilarious characters in Christopher Guest movies, each one had a hand in helping Jennifer Coolidge become the star that she is today. Her recent resurgence is proof that good things happen to those who are kind and work hard, a message that all of us can get behind.
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