LINDSAY LOHAN HAS BEEN EIGHTEEN FOR JUST UNDER A WEEK when she tells me her breasts are real. I did not ask (gentlemen never do), though my reporting (discreet visual fact checking, a goodbye hug) seems to confirm her statement. Lohan fields queries about her breasts in most interviews, which is probably why she decided to pre-emptively address the issue. “My little sister reads that stuff,” Lohan says. “She called me up one day and was like, ‘I heard you got that Pamela Anderson thing.’ It’s just so retar-” Lohan stops and glances at her assistant. They smile at each other in an inside-joke sort of way. “Stupid,” Lohan continues, and when I look puzzled, she says, “I have to watch myself. I guess I say ‘retarded a lot, and this group got mad at me.”
There comes a time in the life of every teenage girl who works for the Disney Corp. when that girl realizes she has suddenly – how shall we phrase this? – “broadened her appeal.” For Annette Funicello, back on the original Mickey Mouse Club, that point came when boys began to notice the tightness of her regulation Mouseketeer sweaters. In more recent years, fallen Mouseketeers Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera recognized that music videos involving school uniforms and/or nude body stockings would exponentially increase fatherly, big-brotherly and creepy-uncle-y tolerance for music that’s pretty much unlistenable if you’re not a thirteen-year-old girl.
For Lindsay Lohan – or, more accurately, for Lindsay Lohan’s breasts – the tipping point came somewhere after the 2003 remake of Freaky Friday. Lohan has been a charming screen presence in kid-friendly fare such as The Parent Trap (another Disney remake) and the subsequent Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen. But suddenly, this year, it became socially acceptable to note that the redheaded child actress was hot. At that point, Lohan became a different kind of star. She made Mean Girls, her first film to appeal to adults as well as to teens, thanks to a smart Tina Fey script, and she became the youngest-ever host of the MTV Movie Awards.
Despite the fake-breast rumors, something about Lohan seems far more real than her contemporaries. Mean Girls is often compared to Heathers, Winona Ryder’s breakout film, and, like Ryder, Lohan manages to look striking without coming off as an empty vessel. In real life, she has been willing to talk shit about rival teen star Hilary Duff and didn’t hide the fact that she liked to party. All of which resulted in Lohan becoming a favorite object of scrutiny for the paparazzi and the online pervert community alike. These days, if Lohan wears a low-cut dress and makes the mistake of, say, bending over slightly to step out of a vehicle, enlarged photographs of her cleavage will be analyzed as meticulously as the Zapruder film.
To continue the Ryder comparison, Lohan is also what’s technically known as a “bad girl.” She has already dated a rock star (well, not exactly rock – it was Aaron Carter), but what really makes Lohan bad is the fact that she goes out to nightclubs in Manhattan and Los Angeles and occasionally dances on tables. All this has helped her new, adult image but could hurt her old, Disney-remake-princess image – which has her handlers worried. When I suggest to Lohan’s publicist that we go out to see a band together, the publicist snaps, “She’s eighteen! I don’t want any more stories of her out in clubs.” My next suggestion – an exhibit of cadavers at the California Science Center – is greeted with an audible sigh.
So, instead, we meet at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills. When Lohan shows up, she is sipping from a can of 7 Up and wearing a ribbed white tank top, torn jeans that reveal both kneecaps and a significant amount of right thigh, a bright-yellow rubber bracelet that says LIVE STRONG and expensive-looking sandals decorated with jeweled crescents. She has dyed her hair a dark auburn shade. A too-intense fake tan accentuates the freckles that cover her arms, making Lohan look like the type of girl who will ask me to buy her cigarettes or order her a strawberry daiquiri. My first thought is: We should be in a mall food court.
It’s been a busy time for her. Besides the turning-eighteen thing, her single “I Decide” is appearing on The Princess Diaries 2 soundtrack, and she has begun work on (of course) her debut album, to be released on Tommy Mottola’s Casablanca Records. (Mottola famously nurtured the early careers of both his ex-wife Mariah Carey and Jennifer Lopez.) She’s also getting ready to film a new movie, and she’s trying to adjust to life as this moment’s It girl. There have been the party-girl stories, and, worse, endless reports about father Michael Lohan’s various run-ins with the law. Most recently, the elder Lohan was scheduled to appear in a Long Island courtroom after allegedly beating up his brother-in-law at a family function at the Lohan home. Before he could appear in court, Michael was arrested on another charge: stiffing a hotel for close to $4,000. He denies these allegations. He’s also facing a separate charge of punching a New York sanitation worker whose garbage truck was blocking his car.
Despite all this, Lindsay is upbeat and seemingly unflappable. Though she looks older than eighteen, she pretty much acts her age, constantly fidgeting with her hair and occasionally blurting out giggly non sequiturs such as “Michael Jackson was in my dream last night! We were in a club. He came up to me and said, ‘Hi, I’m Michael. Nice to meet you. I’m a big fan!'”
She doesn’t have a driver’s license yet, but she’s become skilled at evading photographers, who now recognize her car and the cars of her friends. “Five cars of paparazzi chased me yesterday,” she says, leaning forward, her eyes widening in the retelling. “I wanted to stop at Wendy’s. My friend was like, ‘You don’t want them to take your picture there. It’ll be, “They eat like us!”‘ So I ducked down when we went through the drive-through.”
Still, Lohan can be so relentlessly positive that, after a while, she starts to sound like a candidate for public office. On her dad, she says, “It’s actually been kind of relaxing, being able to let people know that my family’s not perfect.” On reaching voting age: “I’m not very politically involved. And I don’t like to talk about it. I mean, if you say you’re a Democrat, that’ll turn off Republicans, and that’s half of your fan base.” She answers questions about her party-girl image as if she’s speaking to a parole officer or an extremely gullible grandparent. “I know all the guys who own the clubs,” she says. “We made a deal where they let me come in and I’ll drink only Red Bull. If I wanted to drink, I’d just stay home and do it with my friends. I don’t do drugs. Never have, never will. I don’t need to do that stuff to have fun.”
LOHAN BEGAN MODELING WHEN SHE WAS five. “The Ford modeling agency had all blondes with blue eyes at the time,” she says. “I was a redhead with freckles. But I never cried or complained like a lot of the other kids.” Lohan’s mother, Dina, is a former Rockette. Her father was a Wall Street trader who developed and then sold a multimillion-dollar pasta business started by Lohan’s grandfather. She and her three younger siblings grew up in Cold Spring Harbor, on Long Island’s North Shore – which is Gatsby, not Buttafuoco, country. “They have two-acre zoning there,” Lohan says, “so we had a lot of property.” As she moved from modeling to acting, she tried to keep her career on the q.t. at school. “I was ten when I did Parent Trap,” Lohan says, “I left school for eight months. When I came back, my friends were like, ‘Where’d you go?’ I said, ‘My family and I went on a long vacation.’ Then the movie came out, and they were like, ‘Um, Lindsay? That’s you in Parent Trap.’ And I said, ‘Oh, yeah. I also did this movie while we were gone.'”
Around that time, Lohan’s father was sent to federal prison for stock fraud. He served a four-year sentence. “Somebody screwed him over,” Lohan says dismissively. “This kind of thing has happened to so many people I know, it’s almost, like, normal.”
How did your parents tell you about it?
They didn’t! My mom just said, “Dad’s working. He’s away. He’s busy.” I finally figured it out. I was like, “Mom, I’m not an idiot.”
Do you ever feel bad that your fame is having this side effect of making your dad’s problems big news in the tabloids?
My dad’s a big boy. He’s gonna do what he’s gonna do. I don’t feel bad for him. And I don’t feel bad for me. I can handle it.
Did you visit him in jail?
I don’t wanna talk about this stuff!
I’m only asking because having a parent go to jail would be a traumatic thing for anyone, but you were only eleven. So it seems relevant.
You know, when my dad would do things like that, it used to really hurt me. At the same time, he’s the best dad. He’s the most loving, kind person you could ever meet. My parents are working some things out right now. But they’ve been married for twenty years. They’ll work it out.
AFTER HER DAD WENT TO PRISON, Lohan switched high schools, moving from a tonier North Shore one to a more working-class school on the South Shore. She says she preferred the second school, though, at first, a group of girls assumed she was going to be a bitch because she’d been in movies, and they told her friend that if she came to a certain house party, they would beat her up. Lohan eventually won them over. But by eleventh grade she’d had enough and asked her mother if she could be home-schooled. She has no college plans at the moment. She says interrupting her career at this point would be foolish, since she knows exactly what she wants to do, though some day she might consider studying entertainment law.
Lohan is currently managed by her mother, who still lives on Long Island. For a while Lohan shared a Los Angeles apartment with Raven-Symone, the former Cosby Show child star who has her own show on the Disney Channel. Lohan is now in the process of renting a place of her own in L.A. When her mother isn’t in town, Lohan’s assistant looks after her.
Lohan recently went public with the news that she’s dating That ’70s Show star Wilmer Valderrama. (Coincidentally, the pair became less secretive about their relationship after Lohan’s eighteenth birthday; Valderrama is twenty-four.) “We’ve become really, really good friends,” Lohan says. “I love him to death. He’s a great guy. He’s been there for me with all this family shit going on. We’ll see what happens. If this matures into a serious relationship, he’ll be my first real boyfriend. But I don’t know. I’m only eighteen. I wanna have fun.”
Lohan says the hardest part about dating another celebrity is not the increased media scrutiny of their outings but the increased other-chick scrutiny of her dude. “It’s hard when we go out,” she complains. “They’ll seriously hit on him right in front of me. I’m already insecure, and there are a lot of pretty girls in L.A. It makes me feel bad.”
As for the Duff feud, it’s apparently still going strong, with the Duff camp most recently calling the Lohan camp to make it clear that Lohan was not invited to the premiere of Duff’s latest film, A Cinderella Story. Lohan, for her part, takes the high road, lest things escalate to Biggie and Tupac proportions and someone’s glitter-covered Black Berry ends up smashed under an Ugg boot. “Her music is cool,” Lohan says. “It’s just not the direction I’m going right now.”
SINCE THE CADAVER EXHIBIT HAS BEEN nixed, we decide to go shopping on Rodeo Drive, As with just about everything Lohan does these days, the outing is work-related – she’ll be accompanied by the wardrobe guy from her next movie, Herbie: Fully Loaded, a remake of Disney’s The Love Bug. This might be the appropriate time to pause and offer some free career advice, or at least pose a few questions. Like: The Love Bug? What, were the rights to The Shakiest Gun in the West already taken? Were the CGI effects to remake The Shaggy D.A. prohibitively expensive?
Our first stop is Barneys, where a bunch of clothes for Lohan to approve has been stashed in the changing room. One of the wardrobe guys holds up a Daytona Beach tank top that’s been designed to look like a cheap tank top you’d pick up in Florida. “I like this because it’s real,” he says. Lohan nods. “Maybe I could wear vintage Disney shirts,” she suggests. Everyone loves this idea.
“How do you look in crew necks?” the wardrobe guy asks.
“I don’t know,” Lohan says. “Um, I guess fine?”
Back in the car, Lohan’s assistant hands her a yellow legal pad with the word “list” written at the top. It’s the guest list for her eighteenth-birthday party, which is taking place a week after the fact. “It’ll just be a few close friends,” Lohan had told me earlier. “We’ll get dinner and then, I don’t know. Everyone’ll probably be tired and just go home.” When she hands the pad back to her assistant, I notice the names Nicky Hilton and Tara Reid.
“Who’s Jessica?” the assistant asks. “Jessica Biel?”
“No, Jessica my friend,” Lohan says.
“What’s her last name?” the assistant asks.
“Um… “Lohan says, “I don’t know.” She giggles. “I don’t know my friend’s last name!”
We head back to the Four Seasons. Lohan has to be at the recording studio. I’m not allowed to join her. Mottola has declared the sessions strictly closed. Lohan does tell me that she wants her album to sound like Janet Jackson’s latest and that she co-wrote her first song last week. It’s about going out at night and being chased by paparazzi.
Long-term, Lohan hopes to follow the career path of fellow Disney alum Jodie Foster. She’s considering a script in which her character gets drunk at a party, has sex, gets pregnant and eventually has an abortion.
What do you think about the way that girls in pop culture today – like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera and now you – have to make this shift from child star to sex symbol?
You mean growing up in public? It’s weird. But it’s something that has to happen.
Not just growing up. but becoming a sex object.
I don’t think of myself as a sex symbol. It’s weird that people call me that.
But you also seem to be less coy than, say, Britney Spears, who’ll be naked on the cover of a magazine but insist she’s not using sex to sell her records.
I mean, I look up to sex symbols: Madonna, Marilyn Monroe. So it doesn’t bother me if people call me that.
IGET A LITTLE CONCERNED SOMETIMES about the things that are written about me,” Lohan had told me earlier. “Sometimes there are personal things about me in the papers. I start thinking, ‘Which one of my friends is talking shit about me?’ “An ex-friend of Lohan’s has already sold what Lohan claims is a false story to the tabloids. “I got into a tiny fender bender in the middle of the day,” Lohan says. “The other guy hit me. And the story that came out made it seem like I’d been out partying and got into an accident. I almost didn’t get Herbie because of that story. They thought I was trouble.
“People in this business build you up and build you up, then they try to take you down,” she says, already sounding like a grizzled showbiz vet – which, come to think of it, she is. “They’ll write what they want. You just have to be yourself.” She twists a lock of her dyed hair. “And if people don’t like it, fuck ’em.”