Before “The White Lotus,” Jennifer Coolidge was on an island of her own.
After playing the iconic “MILF” persona from the “American Pie” movies, a bemused gold digger in “Best in Show,” and beautician Paulette in “Legally Blonde,” Coolidge felt she was locked into being typecast in certain kinds of roles.
“I did these jobs that I felt like locked me into a certain perception,” Coolidge told Vanity Fair while in conversation with fellow “American Pie” alum Natasha Lyonne. “I was in this weird bubble for a really long time. And it just goes to show that you should really hold out and not just keep repeating yourself, but I was always desperate for the job. A lot of the time I was like, ‘I don’t know if I’ll ever have an offer again.'”
The Emmy contender continued, “There was a period where, except for an occasional Christopher Guest movie, the scripts arriving at my door were lots of gold digger parts. It was a certain kind of thing that I had already done. I guess that’s what happens to us a lot unless we steer it a different way. I wish I had been more involved in the control of my career. I just sat back, I was very passive.”
Coolidge added that except for “a few fun little movie jobs like ‘Austenland,'” it wasn’t until “The White Lotus” creator Mike White wrote a role in the hit HBO series for her that Coolidge felt like she was “really playing something very different.”
“There was this very long period of just repeating myself,” the “Legally Blonde” star added.
While Coolidge leans on her many trademark comic gifts for “White Lotus” — with drunken truth bombs occasionally erupting through her spaced-out aura — the role goes against type as her alcoholic, grieving Tanya is indeed independent very wealthy.
Looking back, Coolidge revealed that she previously had a development deal with NBC and was linked to a pre-“Schitt’s Creek” type sitcom.
“I wanted to do this show playing a blue blood girl from Boston living in one of the Dakotas. Her parents owned this giant apartment in the Dakotas but they left. And I was the rich girl but didn’t have any access to my money, and then there was a poor girl that was my best friend,” Coolidge explained. “This is way before ‘2 Broke Girls.’ It didn’t happen. NBC ended up putting me on ‘Joey.’ Who knows what would’ve happened with that show.”
And the perception of Hollywood is something that Coolidge set to break free from. “It’s hard to know who you are sometimes,” she said, “and it’s weird how you have this idea of who you think you are.”
Coolidge is set to reprise her role in the upcoming Season 2 of “The White Lotus.”