Jennifer Coolidge is one of America’s best-loved comedy powerhouses. With iconic roles in the Legally Blonde and American Pie films to her current Emmy-Award-winning turn on HBO's The White Lotus, Coolidge always delivers on her trademark brand. Campy, glamorous, yet somehow deeply relatable, the over-the-top Coolidgness of her performances is rooted in a tenderness that steals hearts everywhere. But she might not have risen to national treasure status if not for a characteristically bold move she made early on in her career to get noticed. What was it? To score her big break into the industry, Coolidge told a big fat lie and landed on an episode of Seinfeld. Now, years later, she is spilling the truth.
Coolidge showed her scene-stealing power in many early 2000s films. She stood toe-to-toe with Christopher Guest's troupe of comedy titans in the mockumentaries Best in Show and A Mighty Wind. Then, of course, was her spin as Paulette, the nail tech in the box office smash Legally Blonde. But she probably wouldn't have booked any of them if not for a well-crafted lie...
No, if Coolidge hadn't taken the risk and bent the truth, she may never have earned the success to land guest roles on pretty much every successful sitcom from the past 20 years. Friends fans will remember her as Joey Tribbiani’s agent, Bobby Morganstern, in the short-lived spin-off. But she also left her mark on 2 Broke Girls, Nip/Tuck, Party Down, According to Jim, and many more. Lately, though, Coolidge has been on a career hot streak.
Recently, Coolidge has been lighting up prestige TV. She played realtor Karen Calhoun in Ryan Murphy’s true-crime adaptation The Watcher. Though, it was her recurring role as Tanya McQuoid-Hunt in the social satire The White Lotus that finally garnered her some long overdue awards attention. Coolidge won her first Emmy Award in 2022 for her portrayal of the scatterbrained hotel guest but later admitted she nearly turned it down.
She didn't want to do The White Lotus
Coolidge took the call from The White Lotus writer/director, Mike White, in the thick of the pandemic, and was immediately terrified. Telling The Guardian, "I’d been gorging and self-destructing at home for months, eating pizza all day. There was no way I wanted to be on film unless they shot me from the neck up. I’m sort of vain, so there was no ******* way."