• Golden Globe Awards

Nominee Profile 2022: Jennifer Coolidge, “The White Lotus”

From playing a gold-digging dog owner in Best in Show, an unlucky-in-love manicurist in Legally Blonde, and, of course, Stifler’s mom in the American Pie franchise. Jennifer Coolidge has made a career as one of the most versatile comediennes ever to grace the big and the small screen.
Born in Boston, Massachusetts, her career happened, as many do, by accident. She attended Emerson College and earned a bachelor’s degree in theater and is an alumna of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. She moved to New York to join the Gotham City Improv Group and on to Los Angeles where she became a longtime member of The Groundlings Comedy Troupe.
Her heart was not set on comedy, originally. “I wanted to be a dramatic actress and that’s all I really wanted,” she said. “I was obsessed with Meryl Streep and went to all these dramatic acting schools hoping to have just one-tenth of what Meryl has, but it didn’t end up that way. I auditioned for many serious plays and never got any of them. No one’s ever thought of me as a dramatic actress, there wasn’t one door that was opened until I started doing comedy and it was completely by accident,” she told the HFPA, referring to her first-ever acting part in Seinfeld. “I wasn’t the funny one in my family, my brother was. I was the weird sister.”
Seinfeld marked her television debut. After several other TV gigs, she made her first feature film appearances in Not of This Earth and Trial and Error. In 1999 she broke into full-on stardom as the sexy mom in the teen hit American Pie, a role she reprised in all the sequels. Two years after the original Pie, she starred in a movie that also turned into a franchise: as Paulette in Legally Blonde and Legally Blonde 2. She will reprieve the role again in part 3, set to be released in 2023.
Jennifer Coolidge has an unbelievable 124 acting credits under her belt. She has appeared in such cult series and films as Sex and the City, Nip/Tuck, 2 Broke Girls, A Cinderella Story, the critically acclaimed Promising Young Woman, and most recently in director Todd Stephens’ Swan Song, alongside Udo Kier. She believes that her different approach to the film business helped her greatly: “All the actresses in Hollywood want to appear young and I realized that in order for me to get in the door I would audition for the 60-year-old role that no one wanted.” This strategy led to the part in Best in Show despite the fact that she hates auditioning.
Director Christopher Guest had seen her in a play as a 60-something lady and offered her the part of Sherri Ann Abbot. In her current Golden Globe-nominated role in The White Lotus, she plays Tanya McQuoid, a rich, unstable woman, mourning the death of her mother, while on a solo trip to Hawaii, looking for true love and a good massage.
Coolidge divides her time between her house in Los Angeles and a mansion in New Orleans that she bought before hurricane Katrina and which she has restored to its original grandeur.