More than a MILF

Great article from Jay Richardson on Jennifer Coolidge in EdFest today –

Those who don’t know her for the ‘Bend and Snap’ in Legally Blonde will recognise her as Stifler’s Mom from American Pie. But that doesn’t mean Jennifer Coolidge is willing to be typecast, as her new stand up show proves.
Best known as Stifler’s mom, American Pie’s mother of all MILFs, Jennifer Coolidge is widely regarded as one of America’s foremost character actors. And of course, a male fantasy who likes her men like she likes her Scotch – aged about 18 years. With a resumé that includes Friends, Frasier, Seinfeld and Sex and the City, her comedic reputation was sealed forever after memorable turns in the Christopher Guest mockumentaries Best In Show, A Mighty Wind and For Your Consideration.

Stifler’s Mom also prompted some interesting dates, as she reveals in her Fringe debut, Yours For The Night. Typecasting became a problem too, which was a factor in Coolidge’s decision to try stand-up for the first time last summer, with Sex and the City’s chief writer Michael Patrick King acting as her unofficial editor.

“When you’ve achieved success playing a certain person, the scary thing is that you’re seen that way. It’s hard to tell a director ‘I’d rather play this person, I haven’t done that yet’. I’ve played a lot of horny women at this point.”

After Legally Blonde, Zoolander and Austin Powers 3, Coolidge recently claimed her first dramatic role, as Nicolas Cage’s alcoholic stepmother in Werner Herzog’s Bad Lieutenant. But, she says, “I’m pretty sure Herzog had never seen me in anything, so I don’t think he had any prejudice”. In Edinburgh, she’ll be relating her “weird life in the last couple of years, how weird Hollywood’s gotten, the weird auditions I’ve had to go to and the weird boyfriends I’ve had. Oh, and the drugs.”

Boston-born, she waited tables in New York with Sandra Bullock. “Most of us were pretending to be actresses, just partying after work, while she was busy making it happen”. Getting nowhere, she joined The Groundlings, a legendary LA improv troupe that included Will Ferrell and Friends’ Lisa Kudrow.

“It was inevitable Will was going to do incredibly well. Not only was he immensely talented, but if there was a Mr Congeniality contest everyone would have voted for him.”
When Guest happened upon The Groundlings, he inducted Coolidge into the close-knit circle of brilliant improvisers he retains for his movies. And after his unconventional direction, stand-up offers few challenges or surprises. “He just lets you say whatever you want. But you never know which tape he’s going to use. You could do a scene three completely different ways and never know which one he’s going to choose until you see the movie at the premiere.”

And, of course, stand-up also offers many benefits. “I like that I’m not having to deal with a 14-year-old producer kid in an audition room, then waiting for that kid to call and tell me if I’ve got the job,” the 48-year-old actress deadpans. “I’m calling all the shots.”

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