Still a rising star! Jennifer Coolidge has been a Hollywood staple for years — but The White Lotus gave her a place to shine even brighter.
The Massachusetts native made her first television appearance on Seinfeld before scoring her big break in 1999’s American Pie. The coming-of-age movie spawned three sequels — and Coolidge wouldn’t be opposed to going back to East Great Falls.
“The Weitz brothers kept me going,” the actress teased during her January 2023 Golden Globes acceptance speech for The White Lotus, referring to director Paul Weitz and producer Chris Weitz. “I milked [American Pie] to the bone. I mean, I’m still going for six or seven [movies], whatever they want, you know?”
Along with the American Pie franchise, Coolidge is widely recognized for her portrayal of Paulette Bonafonté in the Legally Blonde movies. Paulette befriends Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) and learns the now-iconic “bend and snap” move from the sorority girl-turned-law student.
Nearly 20 years after Legally Blonde‘s debut, a third film — penned by Witherspoon’s pal Mindy Kaling — was officially given the green light.
“[She] is just someone who all writers would kill to write for,” the Mindy Project alum gushed of Coolidge while speaking to Entertainment Tonight in April 2022. “She is so funny. She elevates any material … And so as a writer, it’s the jackpot.”
Kaling teased at the time that fans would be pleased with the “juicy” story lines for both Elle and Paulette. “The two of them, seeing what they look like now after 20 years, is really fun,” she added.
Coolidge has earned recognition for her work in fan-favorite movies, but she’s also known for more under-the-radar comedies. She’s teamed up with Christopher Guest on a handful of projects over the years, holding her own alongside Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara in Best in Show and For Your Consideration.
Though the Joey alum is far from an industry newcomer, her career scored a major boost following the premiere of The White Lotus in 2021. Written and directed by Mike White, the HBO anthology follows guests and employees of a high-end resort chain. Coolidge’s character, Tanya McQuoid, appeared in seasons 1 and 2 — and she took home multiple awards for her performance.
“I feel so alive, you know?” the Single All the Way star told ET after accepting her 2023 Critics’ Choice Awards win. “You go through your life, and you sort of just assume you’re used to going a certain way and you just take on whatever that baggage is and that it’s never going to change.”
Coolidge called her continued success on the series the “surprise of a lifetime,” adding: “My life was changed overnight, and I could not be more grateful.”
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Scroll down for a look at Coolidge’s career highlights through the years: