Will Lo­han ever make a true come­back?

Austin American-Statesman - - LIFE & ARTS - By Amy Kauf­man

LOS AN­GE­LES — Lind­say Lo­han had just been fired again, and she wasn’t tak­ing the news well.

“She was re­ally hurt about it, and I felt ter­ri­ble,” said David Michaels, who was set to di­rect her in a movie called “The Other Side.”

Michaels made the call to his 23-year-old would-be lead­ing lady ear­lier this spring af­ter in­vestors in the film balked at Lo­han’s most re­cent tabloid mis­ad­ven­tures.

“The bud­get on the film had been in­creased from $15 (mil­lion) to $20 mil­lion, and when the pro­duc­ers were go­ing out for that kind of money, they were find­ing fi­nanciers and dis­trib­u­tors ask­ing, ‘Is she re­ally go­ing to draw peo­ple to a theater? Is the money go­ing to be cov­ered?’” Michaels said in a re­cent tele­phone in­ter­view. “It cer­tainly had to do with the six-to eight-month pe­riod af­ter we signed her, that her im­age did not get any bet­ter …

“Ev­ery­one seems to be all about find­ing what’s wrong with her, and no one seem­ingly is re­ally reach­ing out to her and of­fer­ing her a path to re­claim­ing what she once had.”

What she once had, of course, was prom­ise. A decade ago, Lo­han was con­sid­ered one of the most tal­ented young ac­tresses of her gen­er­a­tion. Her per­for­mances in teen come­dies such as “The Par­ent Trap” and “Freaky Fri­day” earned her com­par­isons to the likes of Jodie Fos­ter. “Her tal­ent was un­de­ni­able,” said Mark Wa­ters, who di­rected Lo­han in 2003’s “Freaky Fri- day” and 2004’s “Mean Girls.” “I would set out the most dif­fi­cult ob­sta­cle course for her for a scene, and she’d nail it like a floor rou­tine. She was that good.”

Since her fea­ture film de­but at 11, how­ever, Lo­han has in­creas­ingly been rec­og­nized not for her movie per­for­mances but for be­hav­ior rang­ing from drug abuse and eat­ing dis­or­ders to failed stints in re­hab and, most re­cently, pos­si­ble pro­ba­tion vi­o­la­tions in re­la­tion to a 2007 DUI charge.

Her con­duct has pum­meled her rep­u­ta­tion and her ca­reer. Those who fi­nance and make movies, wary of her phys­i­cal and mental health and skep­ti­cal of her abil­ity to show up to work on time, if at all, ap­pear in­creas­ingly hes­i­tant to risk their money on such a re­peat of­fender. And al­though read­ers might de­vour tales of her off-screen es­capades on celebrity web­sites and in tabloid mag­a­zines, they seem less will­ing these days to drop $10 for a ticket to one of her movies.

Lo­han has not ap­peared on the big screen since 2007, when her thriller “I Know Who Killed Me,” in which she had a dual role as a strip­per and a tor­ture vic­tim, flopped. Her 2009 com­edy “La­bor Pains” failed to get a do­mes­tic movie dis­trib­u­tor and de­buted on the cable chan­nel ABC Fam­ily. She has a small part in the up­com­ing “Ma­chete,” filmed in Austin. And af­ter be­ing fired from “The Other Side,” she was cast as the late porn star Linda Lovelace in a biopic called “In­ferno,” which has not be­gun film­ing.

And yet there’s noth­ing Hollywood loves more than a good come­back story. Lo­han has the sym­pa­thy of film­mak­ers and busi­ness part­ners (like those she works with on her fashion line, 6126) who say she’d read­ily be ac­cepted back into the film world, much like for­mer sub­stance abusers Robert Downey Jr. and Mickey Rourke, if she could some­how de­feat her demons.

But that would re­quire a sense of pur­pose and dis­ci­pline that, if a re­cent jaunt to the Cannes Film Fes­ti­val is any in­di­ca­tion, might still be ab­sent.

When she flew to Cannes in May, she was sup­posed to be pro­mot­ing “In­ferno,” and, ac­cord­ing to di­rec­tor Matthew Wilder, Lo­han did have meet­ings with for­eign sales ex­ec­u­tives and oth­ers “who, af­ter hav­ing met her, put up money” for the film.

Yet the im­ages that emerged from France were more suited to TMZ than the trade pa­pers. One night, there she was stum­bling off a yacht; on an­other, she posed for a photo next to what looked like a mir­ror plate cov­ered with white pow­der.

Back in the States, a Bev­erly Hills judge rep­ri­manded her for go­ing to Cannes and missing a pro­ba­tion hear­ing re­lated to an Au­gust 2007 case, when she pleaded guilty to mis­de­meanor drug charges and no con­test to three driv­ing charges. (Lo­han claimed her pass­port was stolen and said she was un­able to get back in time for the court date.) As a re­sult, she was forced to post $100,000 in bail and wear a clumsy an­kle bracelet that mon­i­tors her al­co­hol con­sump­tion.

Only a cou­ple of weeks later, dur­ing a party af­ter the MTV Movie Awards, her bracelet was set off. She’s due back in court on Tues­day, when she could face up to a year in jail if she is found guilty of vi­o­lat­ing her pro­ba­tion.

As her bail bonds­man was de­liv­er­ing an ad­di­tional $100,000 to the court in early June as a re­sult of the an­kle bracelet vi­o­la­tion, Lo­han took to her Twit­ter ac­count to deny she’d con­sumed al­co­hol.

Through her man­ager, Lo­han de­clined nu­mer­ous re­quests to be in­ter­viewed for this story and pub­licly pur­ports to be — at least via Twit­ter — healthy and happy.

“i’m do­ing and feel­ing great, film­ing right now and so happy... I re­ally feel lucky,” she wrote on the so­cial net­work­ing site last month.

In 2007, Lo­han was ar­rested twice on sus­pi­cion of DUI, checked into re­hab twice and spent 84 min­utes in jail. She also took a huge blow pro­fes­sion­ally dur­ing pro­duc­tion of “Ge­or­gia Rule,” when a let­ter from pro­ducer James Robin­son cas­ti­gat­ing her for her “heavy par­ty­ing” and act­ing like a “spoiled child” was leaked to the me­dia.

“I re­mem­ber the day she didn’t come in to work and said she was sick, we had a pho­to­graph of her the night be­fore out at 3 in the morn­ing,” Robin­son, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of Mor­gan Creek Pro­duc­tions, re­called.

Di­rec­tor Garry Mar­shall called the ex­ec­u­tive to say he had al­ready shot as much footage as he could with­out Lo­han, and the pro­duc­tion was quickly los­ing money.

“He was just like, ‘Jim, I don’t know what to do. I’ve hit a wall,’ ” Robin­son said. “The other ac­tresses — Felic­ity Huff­man, Jane Fonda — all tried to mother hen her. They did ev­ery­thing they knew how to help that girl get her act to­gether, and she just didn’t lis­ten.”

Months later, in an in­ter­view with a mag­a­zine, Lo­han ad­mit­ted she was a “bit ir­re­spon­si­ble” on set.

In the years that fol­lowed, the tabloid-chron­i­cled spi­ral con­tin­ued. To­day, even some of L.A.’s nightlife moguls, who once wel­comed the ca­chet — and pub­lic­ity — Lo­han could bring to their club, are fear­ful of her er­ratic be­hav­ior.

“Lind­say Lo­han had many crazy nights at Trous­dale,” said Brent Bolt­house, who owns that nightlife es­tab­lish­ment. “I’ve been friends with her for a long, long, long time. I hate to see her be­hav­ing poorly. I would never go to some­one’s house and be­have that way.”

Some film in­dus­try ex­ec­u­tives sug­gest Lo­han might be dif­fi­cult to in­sure or in­or­di­nately ex­pen­sive to cover on fu­ture pro­duc­tions (pro­duc­ers typ­i­cally buy in­surance in case key cast mem­bers can­not com­plete a film), but “In­ferno” di­rec­tor Wilder said he isn’t concerned.

“I think this is a project that’s re­ally im­por­tant to her, and she’d ded­i­cated to it,” he said. “There’s such a crazy ma­chine built up around her now, and there’s so much noise around her in the press that peo­ple for­get she’s a re­ally great ac­tor.”

Lo­han does seem to have a solid team man­ag­ing her ca­reer. Though she has jumped around to var­i­ous agen­cies, in­clud­ing Cre­ative Artists Agency and En­deavor in re­cent years, she is cur­rently rep­re­sented by Nick Styne at CAA and is man­aged by Un­ti­tled En­ter­tain­ment. Dur­ing the past few months she has had no of­fi­cial pub­li­cist, though she is still in con­tact with her long­time press agent, Leslie Sloane, co-pres­i­dent of Baker Wi­nokur Ry­der PR.

A po­ten­tial up­com­ing film ve­hi­cle could be “The Dry Gulch Kid,” an ad­ven­ture com­edy that would be shot in the Austin area with co-star Wil­lie Nel­son and be pro­duced by his com­pany. Kerry Wal­lum, a pro­ducer on the movie, said he had be­come in­ter­ested in cast­ing the ac­tress af­ter hear­ing about her work on the Robert Ro­driguez-pro­duced “Ma­chete,” out in Septem­ber.

“I think Wil­lie has seen it all. Ev­ery­body makes mis­takes, and some peo­ple make them over and over. She’s a good ac­tress,” Wal­lum said, adding that Lo­han is not yet of­fi­cially at­tached to the film. “Maybe this is the deal that will straighten her up com­pletely. And even if it ain’t, we’ll be out in the coun­try. I guar­an­tee she’ll be to set on time. She’ll be stuck out in the mid­dle of nowhere.”

John W. Ad­kisson

Lind­say Lo­han has had more than her share of trou­bles, in­clud­ing a May trip to a Bev­erly Hills court af­ter vi­o­lat­ing her pa­role.

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