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Funny Blonde Who Steals Scenes

The Early Show, Jennifer Coolidge
CBS/The Early Show
Entertainment Weekly's "It List" recently called actress Jennifer Coolidge the "It Smart Blonde" for her scene-stealing performances in the films "American Pie," "Best In Show," "A Mighty Wind," and "Legally Blonde."

Coolidge visited The Early Show Tuesday to discuss her new role in "Legally Blonde 2: Red, White, and Blonde."

In the "Legally Blonde" sequel, Coolidge returns as Elle Woods' (Reese Witherspoon) manicurist and confidante, Paulette Bonafonte-Parcelle.

Coolidge says, "Elle has given her an upgrade, upgraded her look. She's been married and has a kid." In the previous film, she notes, her character was depressed but now that she is married to the UPS guy and is quite happy.

In creating her movie characters, Coolidge believes she has made odd choices. But she says that many in the audience can relate to Paulette because everyone has gone through the awkward stage of puberty.

Originally, Coolidge wanted to be the next Meryl Streep, but she ended up doing comedy.

She says, "I wasn't funny. My brother was the funny one in the family. I don't know how this happened. I wasn't very good in my serious acting class. Sometimes people took our class so seriously, so I used to, sort of, make fun of people after class. And so a friend of mine said, 'Why don't you do the comedy thing.' That's how it all worked out. I wanted to be a dramatic actress. Life doesn't go the way you think it's going to go."

Coolidge developed her skills as a comedic actress in New York and Los Angeles as a member of The Groundlings. Some of her Groundling partners, such as Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan, have made the leap to television's "Saturday Night Live."

She says, "The minute I started doing comedy, the doors opened." Some may recognize the funny blonde from her first television series guest role on NBC's "Seinfeld," playing a masseuse who won't offer her professional services to boyfriend Jerry.

Coolidge made her breakthrough movie role in the popular 1999 comedy "American Pie," playing a mother who seduces her son's classmate.

But, her most rewarding movie experience was acting in Christopher Guest's "Best In Show" and "A Mighty Wind" — two films which allowed her to improvise many of her scenes.

She says, "They're the best jobs that an actress can have because you create your own stuff. He [Guest] lets you come up with your own dialogue. He really gets you going; he always makes you look good and gets rid of all your bad stuff in editing. I can't tell you how great it is." About the cast, she says, "That group is so funny and they have the best stories. It's just funniest group of people I have met."

Coolidge says she is amazed to be listed on Entertainment Weekly's "It List." About the attention she is getting, she says, "I'm surprised, I'll be in Argentina and someone will come up to me and go, 'Legally Blonde?' People, I guess, around the world watch a lot of movies. It's sort of weird. Each time you do something. I just did 'Sex In The City.' The next day, you go out, get the coffee. Everyone in New York watches that show."

Facts About Jennifer Coolidge

  • Coolidge was born in Brookline, Mass., in 1963
  • In 1994, she was a regular on ABC's short-lived comedy series "She TV"
  • In 1995, she was featured in two Roger Corman sci-fi/horror movies that aired on Showtime: "Not of This Earth" and "Bucket of Blood"
  • In 1996, Coolidge was a cast member and writer for Fox's "Saturday Night Special"
  • From 1997 to 1999, she had a recurring voice role on the Fox animated sitcom "King of the Hill"
  • In 1999, Coolidge played a mother who sleeps with her son's high school classmate in "American Pie"
  • In 2000, she played the gold-digging owner of Rhapsody in White, a perfectly manicured poodle and dog show champion in "Best in Show"
  • In 2003, Coolidge had a small role in Christopher Guest's comedy "A Mighty Wind"; She later reprised her role as Paulette in "Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde"