Jennifer Coolidge: Dinah's Best in Show

Grooming her stand-up comedy act for The Dinah, actress Jennifer Coolidge remembers getting intimate with ladies in the '80s, gay ex-boyfriends, and the day she wanted to blow her brains out in front of Sarah Jessica Parker.




You star as out actress Heather Matarazzo’s character’s mother in out director Ash Christian’s next film, Mangus!
I like Ash and think he’s really talented, and I hope the movie comes out as good as I think it is. Heather and I did The Women together on Broadway, and I’ve always liked her. She has a good sense of humor, but she’s also this tough, rebellious young girl who always says what’s on her mind. She doesn’t have a phony bone in her body. 

After appearing in his last feature, Testosterone, you reteamed with another gay director, Edge of Seventeen’s David Moreton, on his upcoming film A Good Funeral. What’s the scoop on that?
I play a tough mother who’s been through a lot of hell. It was a good experience, but I don’t know what’s happening with that. We shot that two summers ago, so I hope it comes out. I should get David’s number and see what’s going on.

People obviously know you best from — and interviewers have asked you ad nauseum about — American Pie, Legally Blonde, and the Christopher Guest films. Is there a more obscure role on your résumé that your gay fans should Netflix?
I was down in New Orleans and heard they were shooting this movie, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, with Nicolas Cage. I called up my agent and was like, “Can you get me in on this?” I was able to get the dramatic part of Nic Cage’s stepmother because the director, Werner Herzog, hadn’t seen my comedies. I don’t know how many people saw that, but I’d still think it was a great, riveting movie even if I wasn’t in it. It was cool to play a serious, tragic drug addict and alcoholic, because even the alcoholics I’ve played before are funny alcoholics. But I’m trying to think of something else I was really pleased with…

How about the 1993 Seinfeld episode “The Masseuse,” in which you played the titular masseuse?
That was my first TV job, so I didn’t know you could actually have input on your wardrobe if you didn’t want to wear something. I literally looked like a lumberjack in that episode. Lisa Edelstein was in that episode too, and one of the writers invited us to hang out with the cast afterward at Jerry’s Deli, but it was very clear when we got there that we shouldn’t have shown up. It was just Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jason Alexander, and Larry David, and then Lisa and I come sit at their table like we’re special. These guys didn’t want to hang out with the girls who had a few lines and were pleased with themselves, so it was really uncomfortable.

You also had a memorable cameo on an episode of Sex and the City as Victoria, the woman who has a post-breakup meltdown at her “purse party.”
That was a really fun part, but I just wish they would’ve let me go even more berserk and kill myself. I wish they had let me blow my brains out in front of the girls.

Tags: Comedy