“Let’s make a video where you and I are beating the sh-t out of each other,” Jennifer Coolidge texted me one night a few months ago. “… Does that seem too desperate???” The proposal for catching a filmmaker’s eye, like everything Jennifer says and does, was one-of-a-kind and irresistible. We met last year, while shooting the Netflix series The Watcher on a cavernous soundstage in Brooklyn. I asked the woman beside me in the makeup room, who without her usual glamorous styling looked for all the world like a sweet-faced kid, if she was Jennifer Coolidge, whose work I’ve long admired. She said she was, and I spent a rainy, slow-paced day sitting alongside her at the edge of set, chatting and laughing and just delighting in her company. When she left for Sicily to make the second season of The White Lotus, I missed her. She returned, of course, to a tsunami of prestigious awards recognizing her mesmerizing performance. Adoration for Jennifer, initially led by discerning cinephiles and, of course, the gay community, was now everywhere. Impressions of her, and merchandise ranging from ceremonial candles to T-shirts bearing her face, proliferated. So many of the qualities that have made everyone fall in love with her are outside of what is mainstream or expected: her eccentric mannerisms, hilarious improvisations, and, most of all, aching vulnerability. She is uncompromisingly, exquisitely herself. Jennifer’s honesty and kindness make her a friend anyone would be lucky to have. I’ve got tufts of fake hair and ketchup to stand in for blood at the ready. Who wouldn’t want to be beat up by Jennifer Coolidge? She’s a national treasure.

Read More: Jennifer Coolidge Has Some Life Advice for You

Farrow is an actor

Photograph by Paola Kudacki for TIME

Buy a print of the TIME100 Jennifer Coolidge cover here.

Set Design by Kelly Infield; Styling by Gaelle Paul; Hair by Sami Knight; Make-up by Lilly Keys; Manicure by Vanessa Sanchez McCullough; Production by Viewfinders

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