Jennifer Coolidge Jennifer Coolidge

Ever since moviegoers enjoyed their first slice of American Pie, Jennifer Coolidge (aka "Stifler's Mom") has been turning up everywhere. In addition to the gross-out comedy's two sequels and a pair of Legally Blondes, she has joined Christopher Guest's troupe of usual suspects and these days plays juggernaut agent Bobbie on NBC's Joey and voices bimbo film-exec Traci on IFC's animated Hopeless Pictures, which wraps up its first season tonight at 10 pm/ET. Coolidge recently talked to us about being Hollywood's go-to brassy blonde. I have to imagine that at least once a day you get some crazy shouting "Stifler's mom!" at you. True?
Jennifer Coolidge: Yes. As a matter of fact, I was at a stoplight and had my window down and some kid yelled into the car. I'm glad I did play at least one attractive person in my career. What direction were you given in creating that wanton "woman of a certain age"?
Coolidge: The thing that was fun about it is that they really did shoot that [first] scene in the basement of a house, the kid [Eddie Kaye Thomaswas young and I forget what they gave me to drink, but it did kinda taste like alcohol, so I really felt like I was seducing a kid. It didn't feel like an acting job at all. I feel bad for these people who are supposed to be in a storm on a boat when they're [actually] in a large bathtub with a shower pouring on them. I feel bad for people who have to do that blue-screen stuff where you have to "imagine" everything. Not a lot of blue-screen work in the Christopher Guest films, eh?
Coolidge: No, no.... When everyone is dressed like a dope, the settings are real and everyone seems believable, it's easy. After Best in Show and A Mighty Wind, you're "only" on your third Guest film now. Do you consider yourself a "virgin" of sorts?
Coolidge: I guess! I'm glad to do any of them, to be honest. I had a sort of smaller part in Mighty Wind, so I was wondering if I would even hear from him this time. I'm thrilled. Who are you playing in his latest, For Your Consideration?
Coolidge: Um, everyone has told me to sort of keep my mouth shut about it. But we do know it's about the filming of an indie called "Home for Purim," and the awards-season buzz surrounding it.
Coolidge: I don't know if I'm allowed to talk about it. Is the script is a winner?
Coolidge: The hardest I have laughed this year was when I was reading the outline. It is hilarious. It could be his best one. Between For Your Consideration, Hopeless Pictures and Joey, you have quite a hat trick of projects poking fun at the biz.
Coolidge: Sometimes you get jobs playing someone whose world you don't really know that much about. That's why I think actors want to do these [types of] shows, because we know it so well. Especially with [Hopeless] — we improvise, so hideous things that were said to me earlier in the day can be used that night at the taping. Lies that people tell you, like when a director says, "I wanted you for the lead of my film but I couldn't find you!" Did the Guest films lead to you doing Hopeless?
Coolidge: Yes. [Producer-director] Bob Balaban called me. He always has really interesting stuff going on, and he's a really funny person. And when he told me Michael McKean was doing it.... Well, Michael is probably one of the best improvisers I've ever seen in my life. Do you find improv scary?
Coolidge: The good thing is you don't have to worry about your bad stuff, because they just get rid of it. Unlike the stage shows I did with the Groundlings, they can eliminate the really bad moments — and there are tons of them. Was the final product what you expected?
Coolidge: I didn't know it was going to look anything like it does; I thought it'd be more "normal-looking" people. So I was thrilled to see that like, one boob is bigger than the other on me. And I love that I have just a few strands of hair on my head. [And yet Traci thinks] her "new haircut" looks like Scarlett Johansson's. That really made me laugh. I asked Balaban when the series debuted, "Is TV ready for full-frontal cartoon nudity?"
Coolidge: But it's so fun, because then I don't really have to work out before the scene. Let's talk about Joey. Do you feel the show has taken an unfair share of hits?
Coolidge: Unfortunately, because the show is Joey and because it's Matt LeBlanc, we couldn't kind of sneak in; there was a lot of hype and expectations were high. I see shows on HBO [that are allowed to] grow and turn into what they're supposed to be, but with network shows, from the beginning you're kind of lambasted for doing this or not doing that — and eventually the show does that and you're lambasted again. I think, comparatively, if you were to watch hours of the different sitcoms, Joey is really good. This season Joey has Drea de Matteo's Gina working as Bobbie's assistant. How is that going?
Coolidge: The good thing is the two [characters] are strong women who can really dish it out and take it, and you don't see that a lot. They're both kind of corrupt people — which is nice! Much has been made of Everybody Hates Chris giving Joey ratings woes. Are you feeling that on the set?
Coolidge: Joey and Chris Rock are very different and have different audiences. I'm a big fan of Chris Rock; I've done two films with him. I want him to do well, too, so.... Would you want Bobbie as your agent?
Coolidge: Because I come from sort of a Bostonian background where everyone is very passive, I'm impressed when someone can be very aggressive and frank and get the real scoop for you. So I have to say I admire those qualities that don't run in my family. What else are you working on? I see you're in Date Movie, "from the people who brought us Scary Movie."
Coolidge: Is that what it is called now? Fred Willard and I play [the] Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand [roles from] Meet the Fockers. I'm also finishing up a movie called Quick, with Adam Sandler and Kate Beckinsale, about a guy who comes across a remote control where he can fast-forward through the uncomfortable moments of his life. What would you fast-forward?
Coolidge: Most of my life! If I could eliminate all the uncomfortable moments, I don't think there would be a day left.