Jennifer Coolidge takes a stab at drama
The Closer had Jennifer Coolidge last night and SheKnows has her today.With her appearence on Monday's The Closer and her upcoming turn in Werner (Rescue Dawn) Herzog, Jennifer Coolidge is miles away from her ditzy persona of the Legally Blonde movies. (And let's not forget her characters in the Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy farces, including the iconic Best in Show.)
Calling from the set of her movie with Herzog and Nicolas Cage, Bad Lieutenant, Coolidge is effervescent and radiant about the career opportunities coming her way after years of comic brilliance.
After several delays in connecting due to her demands from Herzog on the set, SheKnows was simply delighted for the phone call, much less if it was hours late. Seriously, it's Jennifer Coolidge. We would have waited all day and night.
NOLA nativeSheKnows: I understand you're in New Orleans filming a movie.
Jennifer Coolidge: I am.
SheKnows: May I ask what film you're working on?
Jennifer Coolidge: I'm on this movie called The Bad Lieutenant. It's not really a remake of the original one with Harvey Keitel. It's sort of a new version of it starring Nic Cage.
SheKnows: That is definitely a story that warrants a return. Directed by Werner Herzog, talk about a man with vision...
Jennifer Coolidge: Yeah. It's a fascinating story. I've never had a director like Werner. It's fascinating. He shoots incredibly fast. The days are incredibly short. They're usually 18 hour days on most movies. These days are incredibly short.
SheKnows: As someone who has a home in New Orleans, what is it like shooting in the area after Katrina. Hollywood was one of the first to respond. What does it mean to you to be a part of that recovery?
Jennifer Coolidge: I have an added joy getting a job here because I have some houses here and I bought them right before Katrina.
SheKnows: I sure hope everything is OK.
Jennifer Coolidge: Yeah, everything's fine. It's very cool to see the movie business and how it can really help out a town. Then you think about how beautiful New Orleans is as far as a backdrop goes. The incredible locations you can come up with while at the same time you're employing a lot of people that really deserved to be employed...it's a really cool thing. Movies are happy down here and I'm so glad with all the tax breaks to encourage the films that would be shot other places, they could be shot here. What a great experience to stay in the place you're living in and go to work.
SheKnows: That must be a rare experience.
Jennifer Coolidge: Yeah, it really is. People from other cities come to film here and they don't know about how great it is. They say if you could just see all the actors going 'Wow, I had no idea New Orleans was this incredible.' It's nice to see everyone so excited about a city that you love so much.
Closing the dealSheKnows: I love hearing that, especially coming from someone who is there and I wanted to ask about The Closer, speaking of a Southern woman, how did your guest starring role come about that aired August 11.
Jennifer Coolidge: I think that it actually had to do with the fact that I was at a charades party one night and I met the casting director said, like a year ago, look, if I like your style, or something like that, if a great role ever comes up, I'd love for you to come and do the show. It took about a year for this to come around. I think that was really cool. I had done some episodes of Nip/Tuck and it's the same producers. I had the casting director on my side. What a cool cast an. That's a fun set. Episodic television is hard because it's incredibly long hours and it's really hard to do. They say it always starts at the top and Nip/Tuck had the same feeling, everyone was having a good time. Those producers have figured something out. They know how to make everybody happy.
Character differencesSheKnows: How is it different as an actress to be part of a film like the one you're working on where you've been a part of the cast from the initial table read, versus a guest appearance, say on The Closer or Nip/Tuck, where they have this well-oiled machine and here you come? Is it a different experience?
Jennifer Coolidge: No, it's really not because it's the exact same. You don't know the people when you come on a movie. You don't really any of the people, and its' really the same, you don't know any of the people. So, I knew the producers, as far the actors, they're all new to you. It's the same awkwardness at the beginning and then the same anxiety level. I have to say, this filming, with Werner Herzog, is the most anxiety I've ever had on a job. It's just because it's a drama. I'm always hired as a comedian. And, it's impossible for me to get in on dramas. It's impossible to be considered. So, there have been many sleepless nights on this one. I would say I slept better when I did The Closer.
SheKnows: That's what struck me about you, and no matter how many performers I talk to, they say that comedy is ten times more difficult than drama. Yet it always seems as if the people that are thought of as comic actors have a hard time breaking that barrier. It just seems like it should be the other way. If you ask us, which you haven't!
Jennifer Coolidge: Yeah (laughs). It is, but you have to remember the cool thing is maybe the reason I got this role is that Werner has never seen Legally Blonde so I actually had a shot. He hasn't seen all these comedies that would have discouraged someone else.
Jennifer Coolidge's filmography
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (due in 2009) (currently filming)
Gentlemen Broncos (due in 2009)
Soul Men with Isaac Hayes, Bernie Mac and Samuel L. Jackson
For Your Consideration
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events
A Cinderella Story
According to Jim
Sex and the City
Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde
A Mighty Wind
American Pie 2
The Andy Dick Show
Best in Show
Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me
King of the Hill
A Night at the Roxbury
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