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Jennifer Coolidge’s Best Roles, From The White Lotus to American Pie

Iconic actor Jennifer Coolidge made her mark over the past several decades, delighting audiences with her relatable roles. The actor and comedian is well known for her comedic strength. But Coolidge is also a talented dramatic actor, as her roles in The Watcher, Promising Young Woman and The White Lotus prove.

HBO’s The White Lotus gained a massive fanbase over its current two-season span. Aside from the series’ commentary on the messy interpersonal lives of rich people, fans are obsessed with Coolidge’s portrayal of Tanya. A rich woman who is both sympathetic and horrible, Coolidge brings an effortless comedic (and dramatic, when needed) flair to her portrayal of a rich, depressed and alcoholic woman. Coolidge’s career is defined by her talent in playing at different comedic angles, including some of her best roles in films like American Pie and A Cinderella Story.

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Jennifer Coolidge Turns Heads in American Pie
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Coolidge’s breakout into mainstream cinema was her sultry role in 1999’s raunchy comedy American Pie. She plays Stifler’s (Seann William Scott) mother, a cougarish woman who hooks up with the younger Finch (Eddie Kay Thomas). American Pie is a film about a group of young men who are determined to lose their virginity, getting them into all types of situations as they attempt to complete their goal. Coolidge’s role in American Pie is as a sexy yet dissatisfied woman who takes Finch’s virginity. This character and Coolidge’s portrayal catapulted the actor into popularity.

Jennifer Coolidge Touches Hearts in Legally Blonde
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Two years after American Pie marks the release of Legally Blonde, a standout comedy film about feminism and friendship. Alongside Reese Witherspoon as Elle Woods, Coolidge plays Paulette Bonafonté, a shy and caring hairdresser who Elle confides in after moving to Harvard Law School. Taking on another role as hairdresser/confidant (she played a similar role in The Broken Hearts Club: A Romantic Comedy), Coolidge reveals a softer side. Legally Blonde proves Coolidge’s versatility; the actor is multifaceted and can bring comedy into a scene without even saying much. Her portrayal as Paulette is also important to the overall feminist themes of the film, as she stands up to a toxic ex-boyfriend and learns her self-worth parallel to Elle.

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A Cinderella Story Teases The White Lotus’ Tanya
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​​​​​​​Coolidge then dove into the whimsical world of teenagers and fairy tales with 2004’s A Cinderella Story, a modern retelling of the classic tale. Set in California in the early 2000s, she takes on the role of the evil stepmother with gusto. A campy performance of a greedy and self-obsessed woman, Coolidge’s signature drawl and eccentric fashion choices bring humor into her role as an abusive stepmom to Hillary Duff’s Sam. Greed and obsession with one’s image are the evils of the film, proven by its setting. A Cinderella Story takes place during a drought, and while the grass is dead everywhere, it shines bright on Fiona’s front lawn. Her portrayal of the classic role as the evil stepmother, which Disney has revamped at least twice, is noteworthy for its significance to the period and trends of the early 2000s. Elements of this role are seen in The White Lotus, where Tanya’s manipulative nature and wealth are the roots of her problems.

Jennifer Coolidge’s Voice Is Perfect for Robots
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​​​​​​​Coolidge is a one-of-a-kind actor for several reasons, but most notable is perhaps her voice. She has a soothing drawl that aids her comedic effect and makes her easy to pick out of a crowd. Despite her unique voice, Coolidge hasn’t starred in many animated films. 2005’s Robots is one of the few she has been in, and her role as Aunt Fanny is both hilarious and sweet. Robots is a comedic story about a world of robots and has a star-studded cast voicing its anti-capitalist message. Aunt Fanny is a funny robot who mothers those who have been cast aside by society, and the humor she brings elevates what is otherwise a bittersweet setting. Coolidge brings a comforting element to her character, regardless of Aunt Fanny’s clumsiness. One can only hope Coolidge’s revived popularity will bring her more roles in animated films where she can use her comedy and voice to tell stories.

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