Behind-the-Scenes with Lindsay Lohan
Published January 8, 2009
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She’s got the bones of a flamingo and the spirit of a gladiator. And I agreed to do this interview because I was curious how young celebs in the 21st century (the last gasp of the patriarchies) are replaying the roles of gods and goddesses of classical times, as figures to both live through and learn from.
Â Â Oh, and also, how do these kids think they’ll make it down the Hollywood-game trail in the dark, surrounded by poisonous bushmasters and seven-foot tiger leeches on both sides of the path? A legendary director-performer, who has worked onstage and in film with more of the great gifted than I’ve even met, told me this of such serious fame: “No one escapes. No one gets out alive.” Meaning without being driven crazy by pop saturation or isolation and exile.
Â Â It’s counterproductive to eat our young, and this one has been on time and camera-ready for most of her 22 years. By her late teens, she was already a pro, having emerged from total family immersion in Hollywood. Then she started to get the attention of old masters like Robert Altman, working with Meryl Streep and Jane Fonda, and then even the critics began to love her, because she’s really good and she’s got that twinkle magic of a star.
Â Â By her 20th birthday, she had arrived. And then she stopped for a minute to be a kid-to act stupid, get drunk, and play the fool. (Don’t forget: She missed junior prom and cheerleading and basketball and slumber parties.) It’s been an American rite of passage, but now it’s Colosseum time in the gladiator wars of our celeb religion. And instead of the world’s remembering her age-remembering the 17 years of acting that came before the six months of acting out-she was paparazzi-splattered, not considered for work, and chased everywhere by grown-up men, usually, in cars with cameras.
Â Â So then I turn up telling her to run away. To take two months to rest for every two months of work. To go to a place where no one recognizes you. Hole up. Disappear into the Amazon. Don’t walk red carpets, walk African trails. Of course, there’s nowhere that’s really possible anymore. All my old stomping grounds from Bali to Burma have been warred-over or touristed-out or remade in plastic. Maybe tabloid megafame is insurmountable.
Â Â But I interviewed her, and I was hopeful. I talked all through it, and I was a mess. I had not eaten all day-too busy working myself-and I jumped off a plane and went to the Chateau Marmont in the rain to meet her. It was a cold day in Los Angeles, so I had a hot toddy. Mistake. L.L. didn’t drink anything and she had already eaten. But I’d say that 65-year-old me was whacked. I didn’t even have time to Google her.
LAUREN HUTTON: Living inside a fish bowl can make you nutty. What’s been the hardest part of it for you?
LINDSAY LOHAN: You know what’s hard? I want to give back. I want to do all the things that will make me feel fulfilled. But whenever I do those things, people think it’s a press stunt or something. Because they do find me, and there’s really no way of hiding from that. And the second that you complain about it, they say, “Well, this is what you wanted, so this is what you’re going to get.” That’s all people see it as now. It’s not, “No, I just want to have some time for myself.” There are things I want to do, and people don’t understand that. You know, my car accident that I got into, where I got my first charge, I wouldn’t have been speeding up like I was if I didn’t have people shoving cameras in my windows.
LH: You were running away?
LL: Yeah, I was. I was running away from the paparazzi.
LH: Who wouldn’t be running away? It’s scary.
LL: Especially late at night, when you’re trying to turn a corner, and then somebody else is speeding up alongside you. So, you know, it’s okay for someone to chase me and then try to cut me off so I ram my car into a tree . . . I mean, I know this guy was trying to do his job, but his “job” almost landed me half-dead.
LH: Not only that, but they all stand to make a lot more money at it if they’ve got pictures of you in a car crashed into a tree.
LL: Exactly. So they’re instigating and antagonizing you. All of them aren’t bad. But I will tell you that I had one of these guys drive into the side of my car once. That’s how I met my criminal defense attorney. I think the guy who hit me wound up going to jail for a few days. I was not injured. I sprained my ankle because the door hit me really hard, but I’ve sprained my ankle a lot of times before, from soccer and dancing and ballet.
LH: When was this accident?
LL: This was a year or two before the other one.
LH: How old were you?
LL: I was just turning 19. I was driving my Mercedes, my favorite car, which I worked my ass off to buy for myself . . . I had to just give it away because I was like, “It’s bad luck now.” At the same time, though, I am sort of a speed demon. It’s exhilarating.
LH: I am too. I mean, I crashed going 110 miles an hour.
LL: On a racetrack?
LH: I was racing, but I wasn’t on a racetrack. But I was going 110 miles an hour on a motorcycle, and I just went into the air . . .
LL: How long ago was that?
LH: Eight years ago. I was in a race with a bunch of guys.
LL: On a motorcycle? Is that necessary?
LH: I know, it was too much. I don’t do it anymore. I sold all my motorcycles. I was dead, basically. So, anyway, let’s have a cigarette.
LL: I have to pee, too. Restroom break!
LH: Turn that off.
LL: I just feel as though it’s become a situation where people have manifested this caricature of who I am, and they act as if there’s no real person inside of it. I mean, people really have come to believe-directors, producers, agents, whoever it may be-that I started in this because I wanted to be a celebrity. But that was never my intention.
LH: You were a kid when you started working.
LL: I wanted to be a movie star. But movie stars are not what they used to be. When I was a kid, I thought movie stars were women and men who were in these great films that we still look at now. But I don’t think there are too many films coming out these days that we’re going to look at in the future and say, “This is one of the great ones.” Like, what is the great film that I will tell my children about? I’m still going to tell them about the old films, the Hitchcock films. And people my age don’t even know who those people are. I can’t even have a conversation with most people of my generation about that, because they’d be like, “Okay, she’s a freak. Something’s wrong with her.” And the worst part is, in terms of what people see of me, I have become this girl who just loves to be photographed, doesn’t know how to focus, doesn’t know how to work on set, just loves the attention, knows how to go out at night, knows how to party. And you know what? I was 20 years old. I never went to college. And I lived maybe six months out of my life like that, doing something wrong, and then I stopped. God forbid I should have ever learned my lesson. But at this point it’s so hard for people to even believe that there was a lesson to be learned at all, because they just think I’m wrong. All these people think I’m never going to be right, because it’s more interesting to fabricate this other girl. Who wants to read a tabloid story about a girl who is doing well?
LH: Or a girl who takes her responsibilities seriously.
LL: I mean, it’s this business. Heath Ledger once said something about this to me. He said: “It’s build you up to knock you down, and that’s all it is. And you just have to see if you can stand through it.” And it is like that, if you put yourself in this situation. I was young, so maybe I did . . . I always wanted to take the blame. I’ve always been apologetic for other people’s faults.
LH: But part of that is what being young is about.
LL: And I didn’t even try everything. I was too afraid. The one thing I tried was the wrong thing. And maybe it was just because I’d seen someone else in my family do it-not my mother. But, I don’t know, it really . . . It sucks.
People really have come to believe that I started in this because I wanted to be a celebrity. But that was never my intention. I wanted to be a movie star. But movie stars are not what they used to be.Lindsay Lohan
LH: Everything you try, everything you do at that age-it’s all to find out what moves you.
LL: I feel like the modeling industry is a little bit more accepting of women who make mistakes. They appreciate the idea of icons. I found that when I worked with Bert Stern on re-creating the Marilyn Monroe shoot for New York magazine-the one she did right before she passed? When I was able to shoot with him and do that . . . Although I was also terrified to do it because, I mean, we’re two very different people, and I was only 21.
LH: But you had to channel her.
LL: I did. But when I did that shoot, people didn’t frown upon it. People were like, “That’s a bold thing to do.” People looked at that shoot more than they’ve looked at any film I’ve done in the past four or five years. And I like to do movies, because I love becoming different characters, and telling different stories through different eyes, and affecting someone’s life in one way or another.
LH: What emotions do you find easiest to access as an actress? Which ones do you find difficult?
LL: It’s funny because being comedic and happy and lighthearted is who I am as a person, so they’re easier emotions for me to connect with. The challenge is accessing pain, angst,Â Â depression. . . It’s more exciting because it gives me somewhere to go and allows me to tap into a part of myself that everyone can relate to. But movies can change things. If you’re fighting with your boyfriend, you can go to the movies and cry it out and leave happy because the ending of the film is happy.
LH: Films certainly can get you through the rough patches.
LL: And I think photographs can do that too, in a lot of ways. To be able to have an effect on someone’s life is extraordinary . . . But now all the other shit has ruined it. Even other actors-I mean, great actors who I want to work with-have such a misconception of who I am because of all the things that get said about me. And directors . . . I mean, aside from Robert Altman [who directed Lohan in the 2006 film A Prairie Home Companion]-I had a lot going on in my life when I worked with him, but he just believed in me. And Charles Shyer, who co-wrote my first film, The Parent Trap -I just got a new script from him. Charles did The Parent Trap with Nancy Meyers, his ex-wife, and they’re both lovely people. And I spoke to John Maybury when I was in London. He’s just the nicest guy. I was supposed to do a movie for him three years ago, but I was going through a really bad time then. Anyhow, I met with him, and he said, “I just want you to know that I think you’re one of the greatest.” Just to hear that from someone . . . You know, I was with this guy Jerry Inzerillo recently, who was running the whole Atlantis [The Palm resort opening celebration] in Dubai. And when I saw him, he started complimenting me, telling me how I reminded him of these other actresses. I literally just sat there . . . He was just saying these really nice things to me that people don’t really ever say, and I started crying. I was like, “Oh, my God, I’m so sorry that I’m crying!” But I was just so emotional about it . . . I’m a Cancer, which means I’m maternal and emotional. So in relationships I’m screwed.
LH: I’m a Scorpio with Cancer rising. I don’t really know what that means.
LL: [laughs] I don’t know what it means either! I just know that Scorpio is a little more dangerous than Cancer, but that could actually be really balancing.
LH: But I do think that you have to protect yourself. My own life was in pictures, working with people like [Richard] Avedon and [Irving] Penn, and then making movies. But I found that by going away for two months to someplace where no one knew who I was-and, in fact, a place where if anything went wrong, I couldn’t whip out a smile or a checkbook or tell them my name to fix it-I had to actually be human and figure things out for myself. I think that occasionally running away and crashing where people can’t find you is important.
LL: You know who said something like that to me recently? Pharrell Williams. He’s an amazing guy. He’s only been really kind to me whenever I’ve met him. He said, “I’d love to make a great record with you, but I want to take you out of all the elements that you’re used to. Let’s go away. Let’s go somewhere nice where you can be focused, and let’s make an album there.” I really respected that because not only is it hard for someone to just say something like that, it’s nice that, as much as I admire him, he would even take the time to say that to me. But it’s true. That’s what it takes.
LH: You’ve just got to go someplace where no one knows you.
LL: But it’s so impossible for me to actually do that. When I was in Dubai, there was still press lined up around the hotel. So I find it close to impossible to actually do that. I mean, it is what it is. This is what I asked for, and in this day and age that’s what actually goes on. But what hurts me the most is that I work just as hard as any other actress around my age, like Scarlett Johansson, but I just don’t get the opportunities that they get because people are so distracted by the mess that I created in my life. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to last forever.
To read the full Lindsay Lohan interview pick up a copy of Interview magazine’s February issue, on newstands January 20th.Â