"It was the beginning of a lot of cool things that happened for me," Coolidge told Jimmy Fallon on Thursday's episode of The Tonight Show, referencing Grande's now-iconic 2018 caricature of her Legally Blonde character Paulette during a visit to Fallon's set. "I was going through a dead zone, not much was going on. Then, Ariana did this imitation on your show, and you encouraged her, and then this ball got rolling!"
Inspired by Grande's clear affection for her work, Coolidge later reached out to the singer-songwriter on Instagram, which led to a budding friendship and a subsequent reprisal of her Paulette character in the pop star's "thank u, next" music video, which heavily referenced movies like Mean Girls, Bring It On, and Legally Blonde.
Since the "thank u, next" video's debut, Coolidge — perhaps best known for her roles in Christopher Guest's comedy films as well as the aforementioned Reese Witherspoon classic — has booked well-received roles in projects like the Best Picture-nominated thriller Promising Young Woman, the critically lauded indie movie Swan Song, Netflix's queer rom-com Single All the Way, and Mike White's HBO dramedy The White Lotus, for which she received a SAG Award nomination.
Ariana Grande/YouTube Ariana Grande and Jennifer Coolidge in the 'thank u, next' music video.
In a 2018 interview, "thank u, next" director Hannah Lux Davis told EW that Coolidge improvised some of her dialogue, and praised the chemistry the pair had together on set.
"When the time came for this moment, their relationship was already primed and ready for this," Davis said at the time. "She was so fun and was such a blast, and she was really game... Seeing her in the same hair and makeup and having her in the clothes that are so similar [to the clothes in Legally Blonde] it's crazy, she hasn't aged a day! She's still the same Paulette."
Watch Coolidge discuss Grande's involvement in her career above.
Hear more on all of this week's must-see picks in EW's What to Watch podcast, hosted by Gerrad Hall.