It’s hard to imagine anyone not being a huge fan of Jennifer Coolidge movies and TV shows, but the star herself has a secret. “I can’t watch myself. I just can’t,” she once admitted on an LA news program, adding, “Once I was in a hotel and someone was, like, ‘Oh, look. You’re on TV.’ Literally, it’s, like, I want to vomit. I find it embarrassing.”
Modesty aside, Coolidge has won the hearts of audiences through her quirky string of Jennifer Coolidge movies and TV shows from the 90s to today. “I usually play people that are really weird looking and have problems,” she quipped to Broadway.com, and it’s that offbeat charm that’s made her a recent darling of the awards show circuit, particularly for her unforgettable role as Tanya McQuoid on HBO’s White Lotus. After picking up a 2023 Golden Globe trophy for that part, the actress — who’s as eccentric as many of her screen personas — filled Access Hollywood in on her future dream role: “I’ve always wanted to play a dolphin!”
We wouldn’t put it past her to pull it off, as her range — and appeal — is limitless. “So many of the qualities that have made everyone fall in love with her are outside of what is mainstream or expected: her eccentric mannerisms, hilarious improvisations, and, most of all, aching vulnerability. She is uncompromisingly, exquisitely herself,” wrote Mia Farrow when Coolidge, whom she calls “a national treasure,” was named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2023.
Coolidge’s indisputable charm and unique delivery has made her an in-demand voice actor, and she can be heard on TV’s The Loud House, The Fungies!, Gravity Falls, Rick and Morty, Fish Hooks, and Ten Year Old Tom, and in feature films such as Igor, Robots, and Bobbleheads. Of course, there’s much more to her resume. Here, let’s take a look at Jennifer Coolidge movies and TV shows that prove just how delightfully animated this irresistible star is in everything she does.
Jennifer Coolidge movies and TV shows in the 90s
The Groundlings alumnus has admitted to massaging the truth to land her first TV gig in 1993. Since she had no real credits at that point, “I only had lies on my resume,” she told GQ, but she still managed to land the part as Jodi, a masseuse who’s dating Jerry on Seinfeld. “I didn’t think I was very good at the table read,” Coolidge said, “but after we finished, Julia Louis-Dreyfus came up to me and said, ‘You were amazing!’ I knew I sucked, but she was still really cool about it.”
The actress then got animated from 1997 to 1999, voicing the character of Miss Kremzer, who was the dean of the Arlen Beauty Academy that Hank and Peggy’s niece went to, on a handful of episodes of Fox’s King of the Hill.
On the big screen, she made a brief appearance in 1998’s A Night at the Roxbury, playing a sexy police officer in the Chris Kattan and Will Ferrell film based on their Saturday Night Live characters. Coolidge had briefly dated Kattan around that time, and in his 2019 memoir, he described her as “a tall, messy, sexy, tough, charmingly crass Boston native bombshell.”
One of her most talked about Jennifer Coolidge movies and TV shows to date came the following year in American Pie, in which she played Stiffler’s seductive mom. “I got a lot of play at being a MILF,” in that film, she told Variety, quipping, “There were so many benefits to doing that movie. I mean, there would be like 200 people that I would have never had slept with.” Coolidge later reprised the naughty, iconic character in 2001’s American Pie 2, 2003’s American Wedding, and 2012’s American Reunion.
Blonde Ambition in the 2000s
The gifted comedian got to put her improv skills to great use throughout the following decade, and she fittingly stole the show in 2000’s Best in Show, a largely improvised mockumentary about the dog show circuit from Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy. Coolidge plays Sherri Ann “We both love soup” Cabot, the rich trophy wife of an elderly man. She eventually fetches a romance with her dog’s trainer, played by Jane Lynch.
Of course, one of the most popular Jennifer Coolidge movies and TV shows is 2001’s Legally Blonde and 2003’s Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde. Her turns as Paulette, manicurist to Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon), are so beloved that her famous line from the sequel — “Oh, my god! You look like the Fourth of July! It makes me want a hot dog real bad” — is the go-to line for her fans, famous and otherwise, to do in her honor on TV and on social media.
Coolidge swept viewers away again in 2003’s A Mighty Wind, another improv-heavy film from Guest and Levy about three oddball folk groups reuniting for a concert. In it, she plays Amber Cole, who, according to Slate, is “a dim publicist with an accent that’s half-Scandinavian, half-Martian.” That same year on TV, she did a guest role on Sex and the City and started a small recurring role as Roxanne, the title character’s estranged sister, on Jim Belushi’s ABC sitcom, According to Jim. In 2003, she also popped up on Friends as Amanda Buffamonteezi, Phoebe and Monica’s former roommate. “I didn’t have the guts [to improvise],” she noted to Metro, a U.K. news outlet, of her time on set. “The only thing I improvised was they wanted me to dance awkwardly.”
In 2004, she appeared with Hilary Duff in A Cinderella Story, playing Fiona, the Botox-loving wicked stepmom of Duff’s character. “I can’t show emotion for another hour and a half,” she deadpans in one favorite scene. Back on TV, she reunited with old Friends, as she started a run on Matt LeBlanc’s spinoff show Joey, playing his no-nonsense agent, Bobbie Morganstern. “Let me explain to you how this agent thing works,” she tells Joey in one favorite scene. “First you become famous, and then I’ll kiss your ass.”
The star re-teamed yet again with Guest and Levy for 2006’s For Your Consideration, this time playing Whitney Taylor Brown, the offbeat heir to a diaper company. She then appeared in 2006’s Click, annoying Adam Sandler’s character to no end as Michael’s wife’s best friend, who’s obsessed with plastic surgery. Fittingly, Coolidge went on to do a few episodes of the series Nip/Tuck starting in 2007, playing “the idiotic Candy Richards, whose character had her lips replaced by tissue from her labia,” according to Entertainment Weekly, which also noted, “As usual, Coolidge stole most of her scenes.”
2010 to 2018: New Decade, New Jennifer Coolidge movies and TV shows
From 2008 through 2012, Coolidge played prostitute Betty Boykewich on ABC’s The Secret Life of the American Teenager, which starred former teen star Molly Ringwald. From 2012 to 2017, Coolidge played Sophie Kachinsky, the eccentric, glammed-up Polish house cleaner neighbor of Kat Dennings’ and Beth Behrs’ title characters on CBS’s 2 Broke Girls. She based Sophie on a cleaning lady she herself had at one time. “I love that somehow I get to channel her. She just made vacuuming look so good,” Coolidge said on The View. Then Coolidge headed back to school in 2015 to portray the mother of Brittany (Heather Morris) on a couple episodes of Glee.
Her character of the subdued Mary Meh in 2017’s The Emoji Movie was a refreshing departure for Coolidge. “I think I’m kind of over the top in a lot of films, and I thought it was very unlikely that I’d get this part because I’m usually sort of big and exaggerated,” she told LA’s Fox 11. “I kind of liked that I was sort of the woman locked into the conventional thing. It’s something that I hadn’t played yet.”
Gratitude seemed to be a theme, as Coolidge got to do a cameo as Legally Blonde’s Paulette in Ariana Grande’s “Thank U, Next” video in 2018. Grande revealed herself to be a huge Coolidge fan by doing an impression of her on The Jimmy Fallon Show a few years earlier, so the actress DM’d the young pop star “and then this response came back and the next thing you know I was going to her house for a wardrobe fitting for [the video],” Coolidge told Fallon in 2022.
“Any day with Jennifer Coolidge was a good day because she’s so brilliant and so hilarious,” gushed Ugly Betty and Shrinking star Michal Urie to Brief Take about their 2021 Netflix holiday movie, Single All the Way, in which she plays his Aunt Sandy. One of her lines from the film — “the gays just know how to do stuff!” — still gets tremendous play on social media, and working with her was just a joy. “As much as I love to act,” Urie notes, “I don’t know any actor who loves it as much as Jennifer Coolidge. Watching the way that she would crack herself up? So infectious. She would do something hilarious and off the wall, and then she would be the first one laughing when they called ‘Cut!’ And that’s really delightful.”
The actress no doubt has been delighted by the heaps of praise she’s won for her iconic turn on White Lotus. Her Tanya McQuoid line — “Please, these gays, they’re trying to murder me!” — is all over social media, and she’s been rewarded for her portrayal with two Critics Choice Awards, a Golden Globe, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and two Primetime Emmy awards, just to name a few. After the 2022 Emmys, she went viral for her endearing dance as they tried to play her off with music, and in 2023, she thanked creator Mike White before quipping, “he says I’m definitely dead so I’m going along with it.”
In 2022, she also appeared in Ryan Murphy’s creepy thriller The Watcher on Netflix, playing realtor Karen Calhoun. And in Amazon Prime’s 2022 romantic action-comedy Shotgun Wedding, she stars as the mother of the groom (Josh Duhamel), who, with his fiancée (Jennifer Lopez), has to save their families when their entire wedding party is taken hostage.
Next, keep an eye out — or an ear, to be more exact — for Coolidge in the new season of Disney+’s Monsters at Work, which is based on the studio’s hit animation franchise. She’s been announced as a guest voice-actor sometime in 2024.