Renowned for her role as Stifler’s mom in ‘American Pie’, Jennifer Coolidge, the star of ‘The White Lotus’, is candidly revealing her past mistakes, something she has come to recognize over time. In a recent discussion with Jeremy Allen White, as part of Variety’s Actors on Actors series, Coolidge expressed her regret for not capitalizing on the momentum she had early in her career.
“It was in the ’90s when I had ‘Legally Blonde,’ ‘Best in Show,’ and ‘American Pie.’ And then a few years later, there was ‘Cinderella Story’ and stuff like that. There was a moment… looking back, there was this wave that I really could’v ridden, but I got really distracted,” she said.
She didn’t have anyone guiding her on career strategy, leading her to overlook potential growth opportunities. “I didn’t realize I was behind the wheel, and I could have manipulated it better to have a better outcome,” she admitted.
The Turning Point
Looking back, Coolidge acknowledges that she was not fully attentive to the roles she could have taken up. “That was a fatal flaw of mine because it took so long to get anything going later,” she stated. This realization led her to regret not being more proactive early on as her theater friends were.
However, a breakthrough came when Ariana Grande was cast in the music video for the 2018 hit “Thank U, Next.” This move played a significant role in revitalizing her then-stagnant career. Coolidge expressed her gratitude to Grande during Entertainment Weekly’s Entertainer of the Year issue, “I was kind of flatlining, and you got things going for me.”
Re-emergence on ‘The White Lotus’
Being part of Grande’s music video appeared to be the catalyst that reinvigorated Coolidge’s career. “Yes, I got to do ‘White Lotus,’ but I think it really started with you asking me to be in the ‘Thank U, Next video. You were sort of the instigator. I really believe that. I think if you hadn’t put me in ‘Thank U, Next,’ and done that imitation, I don’t think I would be here where I am.”
Coolidge’s return to the limelight was consolidated by her performance as Tanya McQuoid-Hunt in the first two seasons of “The White Lotus.” Her character was tragically killed off at the end of the second season, a twist that many fans found upsetting. Nevertheless, Coolidge seems to have accepted the storyline. “[Creator] Mike [White] was looking for a big Italian opera ending, and it was big and dramatic, so he wanted me to die for many reasons,” Coolidge shared.
Despite Tanya’s fate, Coolidge’s portrayal won her a Golden Globe, a SAG Award, and an Emmy Award. She was the only cast member from the first season to return to the show full time for its second season.
Charting the Future
Following her performance on “The White Lotus”, Coolidge has received several offers and is keen on working in films next. However, the series high standard makes it difficult for her to make a choice. “The White Lotus holds this very high bar, so it will be hard to choose,” she admits.
Coolidge also touched on the possibility of a third season of “The White Lotus” and her friends’ curiosity about it. “Since my on-screen death, I was getting calls from actress friends who were wondering if a third season happened could I get them in on it,” she shared. But she expressed her desire to see the return of certain characters whose stories have yet to reach a satisfying conclusion.
Sharing Life Lessons
As part of her career revival journey, Coolidge has been open about her past struggles, hoping to inspire others with her story. She recently addressed her fans at a panel talk at Vivid Sydney, a 23-day event in Australia. “I want everyone to know all my depressing stories. Because I think it will help people,” she disclosed.
“I had a very hard time functioning for many years because I just didn’t think I had a shot in hell,” she confessed. What is essential is to learn from past mistakes, seize the right opportunities, and never lose faith in one’s abilities.