It would be a grave, but somewhat forgivable, injustice to label razor-sharp improv-master Jennifer Coolidge as falling prey to the whims of typecasting. With a presence and delivery that invariably results in rampant scene-chewing, Jennifer’s filmography is strewn with characters which rarely cater to the same cinema-going demographic, yet still leave an indelible impression upon those varied audiences.
Overcoming such preconceptions on her suitability for certain roles is something that proves difficult, but by no means impossible. “The only cool thing that has happened to me in the past couple years in terms of being versatile was when Werner Herzog came down to New Orleans to audition people for his movie Bad Lieutenant with Nic Cage, and I managed to get an audition. Werner had never seen any of the movies I had done – so he cast me as this drug addict girl that I auditioned for. I did get that part in a serious role, and it was a cool thing to have happen. I never get to play that type of character – I would love to be a woman with a machine gun, running from the mob, or some kind of terrorist group,” she laughs. “I would love to be in that kind of movie, but that’s not how people think of me. It can really be a bummer sometimes, to be locked in. I think that’s why I’m doing this [the stand-up tour].”
The work of director Christopher Guest has gained a reputation as somewhat of a comedic goldmine, with the films rarely straying from a select cast of improvisational comedy geniuses. Since Best In Show, Jennifer has remained a staple within the comedic clique. “I was in this comedy group called ‘Groundlings’, and I happened to be there at a really, really great, exciting time. Groundlings was this great improv group – there was myself, Will Ferrell, Lisa Kudrow, Kathy Griffin, Maya Rudolph – all these great, really talented people. I think Christopher Guest was at a show one night, and he saw me perform as this weird old woman playing the clarinet, and he happened to see it. Then he called me up for Best In Show.”
Predating the dawn of the LOL-era, the term MILF has permeated the vernacular since the term was popularised in 1999’s American Pie. Could it be that this label has gone on to be loaded with a feminist ideal? “I really actually like the MILF thing, because in American Pie it was established that it was a name the boys came up with. It was Finch’s idea to have sex with Stifler’s mum; it was all his idea. She was this sort of woman who thought, ‘Just mind your own business.’ I like that it was the kids’ idea. MILF, to me, is cooler than ‘cougar’, because cougar seems more like a woman’s idea. It seems more like a woman that was looking for a young kid. Stifler’s mum was just this woman who was probably a little horny and just said, ‘Hey, why not?’ Just something that could be really fun. I see these all these mothers – I don’t have any children – and you just can’t believe that they are mothers. They’re just beautiful, with a very strong sexuality and they know who they are. I think that the Europeans are way ahead of us, with the young boys wanting to be seduced – really wanting an older woman to jump their bones. Whereas in America, I feel the young boys want to seduce young girls rather than be seduced by an older woman. I don’t know how Australia feels, but when I was in Europe I felt like I was Bono or something,” Jennifer quips.
As well as the chance for local lads to be seduced by an iconic sex-bomb, audiences can expect a few raucous tales from the land of Hollywood during Jennifer’s first visit to our shores. “I don’t really get political or anything. I guess it’s a chance to voice my opinions about my weird experiences with Hollywood. It’s something I started doing two years ago. I ended up hosting an awards show, which is something I don’t really do. After that night I thought ‘Maybe I could do this in a less scary atmosphere,’ out on the road. You know, you have to be so clean on these talk shows, so it’s a chance to get dirty,” she laughs.
Jennifer Coolidge performs her stand-up show, Yours For The Night at The Athenaeum Theatre this Friday June 10. Tickets are available from Ticketmaster online at ticketmaster.com.au and on the phone at 136 100.