Jason Mitchell looks at the rise, fall, and potential rebirth of the career of Lindsay Lohan.
Alcoholism, drink-driving convictions and drug addiction; rehab facilities, court rooms and incarceration. To many onlookers, Lindsay Lohan’s personal issues with substance abuse, and the subsequent legal problems stemming from them, seem to have completely destroyed a promising career for the young actress.
It is easy to see why such an opinion exists. Prior to her legal troubles Lohan was one of the hottest young actresses in the industry. In 2003 she earned herself positive reviews and an MTV Movie Award for ‘Best Breakthrough Performance’ for her role in Disney’s ‘Freaky Friday’. And she followed that success up with 2004’s ‘Mean Girls’, a film which garnered critical appreciation for its writing and for which Lohan herself earned a further two MTV Movie Awards. Five years into the 21st century, Lohan could boast several highly successful movies and two music albums – she was on top of the world.
Fast-forward seven years and Lohan’s film career has clearly taken a back seat to her extra-curricular activities. However, constant media interest in Lohan’s personal life and the potential for a redemption story has essentially prolonged her career beyond the usual shelf-life of a Disney actress with, to put it kindly, limited acting ability.
Take Hilary Duff for example. During her teenage years, she experienced similar success to Lohan. Yet, despite avoiding the pitfalls of Hollywood, her career has crumbled to the point where she was dropped from the title role in ‘The Story of Bonnie and Clyde’ in the aftermath of criticism from Faye Dunaway. “Couldn’t they at least cast a real actress?” Dunaway remarked.
Hilary Duff, of course, lacks the acting skill of a Faye Dunaway and should never have been cast in the role in the first place. But that’s besides the point. Her main problem has been her inability to shrug off the Disney tag. Her performance in ‘War Inc.’ went some way towards breaking the association, but it still clearly remains. No matter what roles she accepts in the future, she will never be thought of as a “real actress”.
Lindsay Lohan has, on the other hand, firmly distanced herself from the Disney brand. Through her personal struggles, she has carved out a bad-girl image for herself, without which she would never have landed a role in Robert Rodriguez’s ‘Machete’ ; a role which was described by The Washington Post as “a campier, trampier version of herself ” and a performance which was described as “her best work in some time” by Variety.
In reality, her supposedly promising career as a leading lady prior was anything but. She is simply not a good enough actress to maintain interest through what is supposed to be her day job and would have arguably struggled even more than Duff.
But, in spite of her unreliable nature, the media attention she garners through her personal life remains an attractive quality to filmmakers and will continue to guarantee her film roles for the foreseeable future. In addition, many will be unable to resist the thought of providing Lohan with on-screen redemption for her personal problems. Her media image lends itself to a variety of roles far removed from the permanent good-girl role she played during her supposed prime, allowing her to diversify far more than she otherwise would have been able to.
Additionally, her willingness to poke fun at her own situation, as demonstrated by her recent cameo in Glee, also generates good potential for comedy roles. In fact, she has recently completed work on Vince Offer’s comedy film ‘InAPPropriate Comedy’, where she stars alongside Hollywood A-listers including Adrien Brody, Rob Schneider and Michelle Rodriguez.
Meanwhile, despite being in and out of jail and supposedly finished as a leading lady, she has also been able to land herself the role of Elizabeth Taylor in the upcoming biopic ‘Liz & Dick’.
Although her career hit a temporary blip as a result of her personal struggles, those struggles may, in a strange way, prove to be the best thing that ever happened to Lohan’s career. And while she clearly lacks the talent required to be a member of the Hollywood elite, she continues to generate more mainstream media interest than just about any of them.
Jason Mitchell is a freelance sports writer who has decided that writing about films would add another string to his bow. Unfortunately, the additional string does not offer any assurances that he won’t still wildly miss the mark from time to time. Read more of his thoughts here