Jennifer Coolidge is not just White Lotus and Stifler’s Mum

“You look like the 4th of July. Makes me want a hotdog” 

Few actors or actresses have such incredibly funny and timeless quotes as Jennifer Coolidge. She has been proving it for decades: The cool in her name is more than earned. And even though we count ourselves as part of her fan club: For a long time, Jennifer Coolidge was one of those actresses whose face was instantly recognisable but whose name was not. 

In interviews, Coolidge said that even years after the hit movie “Legally Blonde” release, people would approach her on the street and quote the iconic hotdog-scene (if you know, you know). 

They did not recognise Coolidge by name, but as “the one from Legally Blonde” or “Stifler’s mom”. Now that the actress has won a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress for “White Lotus” in January, many fans (and the media) think: Jennifer Coolidge’s career has taken a late turn. But is that so? Wasn’t Jennifer Coolidge always the icon we didn’t even know we had?

Let’s be honest: Jennifer Coolidge is no stranger to the silver screen. From her roles in Christopher Guest’s iconic mockumentaries and Paulette Bonafonte in Legally Blonde to ‘Stifler’s Mom’ in American Pie, Coolidge’s quirky sense of humor and inimitable turns of phrase have captured our hearts and laughter for decades. 

With over 122 titles to her name, she’s an impressive collage of characters, but it’s the recent success of White Lotus that has brought Hollywood’s favorite character actress maybe a bit more onto the mainstream-radar. Or to put it short and simple: The rest of the world is finally catching up!

Here are a few bend-snapping reasons why we can’t get enough of J-Cool…

The first MILF

Jennifer Coolidge was born in Boston in 1961 and attended an acting school in New York. It took several years before she landed her first role in front of the camera. In 1993 she appeared in an episode of the sitcom Seinfeld. Smaller roles followed before she became famous as Stifler’s mom in the 1999 coming-of-age comedy American Pie. Coolidge, in her late thirties at the time, played a supporting role as the mother of a high school boy. But the character of the attractive mother, adored by her son’s classmates, became legendary. The term “milf” (“mother I would like to fuck”) already existed, but after “American Pie” and its three sequels, everyone knew it.

She recently said in an interview: “I got a lot out of playing a MILF in ‘American Pie’. I mean, there are about 200 people I wouldn’t have slept with otherwise.” Coolidge is also emphasizing another aspect of “American Pie”. The actress’ face was so closely associated with “Stifler’s Mom” that she maneuvered herself into a dead end as an actress.

Bend and Snap 

But: From MILF to down-on-her-luck beautician. Coolidge transitioned effortlessly from seductive mother to shy and insecure Paulette Bonafonté in Legally Blonde starring Reese Witherspoon. Every 90s baby remembers trying out the ‘bend and snap’ when no one was looking. Even Ariana Grande asked Coolidge to reprise Paulette in her music video ‘Thank U, Next’, which Coolidge credits with jump-starting her career after it had stalled.

Another fan-favorite: A Cinderella Story. Only Coolidge could pull off the vain and vapid wicked stepmother in A Cinderella Story, moving effortlessly between cruelty and hilarity. Not only because of the great one liners like: “There’s something I’ve always wanted to tell you, and I think you’re ready to hear it. You’re not very pretty and you’re not very smart. Oh, I’m so glad we had this talk.” 

Years later 2 Broke Girls was one of the last of the dying breed of multi-camera sitcoms in the 2010s, and we were lucky enough to see Coolidge as the girls’ hilarious upstairs Polish neighbor, Sophie Kachinsky.

Jennifer Coolidge mostly played supporting roles and characters that were mostly weird and funny. But she did it very convincingly. According to Rotten Tomatoes, which reviews films, “A unique force of nature, Jennifer Coolidge lit up every project she appeared in with her inimitable quirky timing and unbeatable comedic flair.” 

Jennifer Coolidge is having a moment, but while she’s getting her flowers now, she’s actually been an icon for decades. She can easily be pigeonholed as someone who livens up bad movies, but if you dig a little, you’ll find that she’s actually a comedic genius who trained at the famous improv comedy school The Groundlings and can deliver the best jokes where you least expect them.