With all the problems in her life lately, it's easy to forget: Lindsay Lohan was once a terrific actress. For proof, look no further than her first starring role, in "The Parent Trap." Lindsay was 12. Director Nancy Meyers ("Something's Gotta Give") auditioned many young girls in search of "a little Diane Keaton ... so alive on the screen," she later said. She handpicked Lohan, who gave not one but two flawless performances as identical twins Hallie Parker and Annie James. Audiences loved her, so did critics. "She has the same kind of sunny charm Hayley Mills projected," wrote Roger Ebert, when the movie opened in 1998.
Today, audiences have become familiar with a different Lindsay Lohan—and it has nothing to do with her acting. Sure, she's still making movies, but she's getting a lot more attention for her role as a tabloid star. Newspapers splash their headlines with her latest partying misadventures. Hooks ups! Break ups! Family feuds! But despite her trip to rehab this year, Lohan hit a new low this weekend. Lindsay was arrested for driving under the influence after she crashed her convertible on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. Police also reportedly found cocaine in the car. Two days later, Lindsay was back in the papers, with photographs of her passed out in the driver's seat of a car after another night of partying. According to her publicist, she entered rehab on Memorial Day.
The conventional wisdom is that no publicity is bad publicity. But that might not hold in Lindsay's case. Her latest commercial films—"Just My Luck," "Georgia Rule"—haven't connected with audiences at the box office. In fact, she hasn’t had a hit since 2004's "Mean Girls," the movie that turned Lindsay into a superstar and icon, along the lines of Paris Hilton. But while Hilton doesn't have a movie career to protect (we're not counting "House of Wax"), the bar is set higher in Hollywood for actors who actually can act. If audiences don't take you seriously (sorry Tara Reid), they're not going to fork over $11 on opening weekend to see your movie. Lohan's supporting roles, in "Bobby" and "A Prairie Home Companion," show that she wants indie cred. Or any acting cred at all. "I want to win an Oscar," she said in a recent interview. "I want to be known for more than, like, going out. For being 'the party girl.' I hate that."
Oscar-winner Lindsay Lohan. It would be a great comeback story. The problem is, will producers continue to hire her? A recent string of flops is one strike against you. But Lohan also has a new reputation for not showing up to work, in part due to a public letter from "Georgia Rule" producer James Robinson that called her "irresponsible and unprofessional." Robinson later told CBS News: "She missed a day of work without telling anybody and you can have a whole crew and cast standing around—plus the cost of half a million dollars a day lost." But then he added, "The letter served its purpose and she's a great actress." Let's just hope that Lindsay lets up on the partying a little, so the rest of Hollywood can appreciate that greatness, too.