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Lindsay Lohan at 30: After a Decade of Turmoil, We're Ready for a Comeback

by Sarah Sprague 8:20 AM PDT, July 01, 2016
Photo: Getty Images

"Everyone has goals, but I don't like to set certain goals -- I don't want to let myself down or anything," Lindsay Lohan told ET in 2006 during an interview to promote Bobby, the ensemble drama written and directed by Emilio Estevez. At the time, Lohan was at the height of her career, riding high after a string of box office hits -- Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, Mean Girls, and Herbie Fully Loaded -- and transitioning from Disney ingénue to sophisticated, adult starlet. While talking to ET, she was looking ahead at the next decade to her 30th birthday on July 2, 2016. She had dreams that any actress at 20 might have: "Every actress aspires to win an Oscar and work with great people," she said. "I'd like to be married by the time I'm 30."

"But I'm not going to put myself in a position where I know I'm going to end up doing something that I'll regret."

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In 2016, Lohan certainly has many things to be happy about. Decades of family turmoil seem to have finally calmed as both of her parents, Dina and Michael, and sister Ali were in the audience at a New York City concert in April to support Lohan as she appeared onstage with Duran Duran to perform "Danceophobia" the singsong single featuring the actress slash singer from the band’s latest album, Paper Gods. Lead singer Simon Le Bon joked with ET that Lohan was "two weeks late" when they recorded her sultry vocals at a London studio, poking fun at her longtime reputation of being unreliable onset, but confirmed she was well worth the wait. "She's got her schedules that seem to run on a different time than the rest of the planet, but that's what's kind of great about her," keyboardist Nick Rhodes added.

Lohan herself seemed overjoyed to be back on stage as she showed off her engagement ring, which fiancé Egor Tarabasov had ordained her with just a few days prior. "Thank you, New York," she wrote on Instagram following the concert.

MORE: Lindsay Lohan's Father Says Engagement Has Brought Actress 'True Happiness'

The actress, who now calls London her home, has also found what was so seemingly elusive to her for so many years: a person she can trust, in Tarabasov. Lohan doesn't hide her great affection for the Russian business heir she met through mutual friends, frequently posting pictures of the two of them together traveling or doing normal couple stuff, like hanging out and enjoying each other's company. For his part, Tarabasov seems to be the ideal boyfriend, doting over Lohan, spending time with her family ("We love him. He is a sweetheart," Dina Lohan told ET in March), and telling friends to keep her birthday weekend free as he’s set to throw her a big birthday bash in Greece to celebrate her turning 30.

But as we all know, happiness and stability are relative newcomers to Lohan's life.

Even as a young child star, Lohan knew her road ahead wasn't going to be easy. "Growing up, you need to experience different things, and you need to learn from your mistakes and other people's mistakes," she told ET in 2004 while promoting Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen. Already, the tabloid mentions were on the rise as her star power continued to grow following her child-star hits The Parent Trap and Freaky Friday. By the time she was promoting Mean Girls, which came out a few months later, Lohan sounded like an old Hollywood pro, waxing poetic about the strengths of her career. "You're only as good as your last movie," she said. "Even if you’re a good actor, they just base it on your last movie. It's hard in this business to feel settled and know it's OK."

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Still just a teenager (she was only 17 when Mean Girls was released), Lohan's personal life -- a high-profile romance with That '70s Show star Wilmer Valderrama, a longtime rivalry with Hilary Duff, and a rocky relationship with her father, which she put into song -- began to rival her professional career as she transitioned to adulthood in the ever-critical public eye. Unlike some of her contemporaries (Duff among them), Lohan was eager to make the leap to adult roles and shed her childhood image. Herbie Fully Loaded was her last film with Walt Disney Studios, which first made her a star, and by the time she was promoting its June 2005 release, she seemed ready to move on. Lohan wanted to take on roles that were "darker and edgier," she said. "You know maybe not necessarily big-budget movies. [Rather], something that’s close to my heart that I can just experiment with."

Going smaller just as her career was taking flight provided Lohan with not only the darker roles that she desired, but also a chance to work with screen icons from whom she could continue to learn and perfect her craft. Soon she was sharing the screen with Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin in Robert Altman’s A Prairie Home Companion, Sharon Stone in Bobby, Jane Fonda and Felicity Huffman in Garry Marshall's intergenerational dramedy, Georgia Rule, and Jared Leto in Chapter 27.

Lindsay Lohan attends the premiere of Bobby at the 63rd Venice Film Festival on Sept. 5, 2006 in Venice, Italy. Photo: Getty Images

All the while, her name was becoming a permanent fixture in the tabloids and her reputation was running away from her. "I'm obviously a target because I'm in the public eye so much and I live my life," Lohan told ET during the same 2006 interview. Living her life included spending several years living out of hotels in Los Angeles, getting into several auto accidents, being hospitalized ("for dehydration," a regular explanation), and suffering her first major flop (Just My Luck, with Chris Pine in his second major film role). " I've lived so many lives. I have more lives than a cat. I really have."

What followed was a decade defined by repeated arrests, family dramas and extended rehab stays that would all but derail her career. While former costars would forever sing her praises and no less than the mighty Oprah Winfrey herself would give the troubled star her own reality show (Lindsay on OWN) to chronicle one of her many comeback attempts, nothing came close to capturing the potential that was seen in movies like A Prairie Home Companion, Chapter 27, Bobby, and Georgia Rule. The pressure of being "Lindsay Lohan" proved to be too great, even for Lohan.

Pine would later reflect on what it was like to be inside the Lohan storm, telling The Hollywood Reporter, "It was a real cyclone of insanity, like being around the Beatles. It was fascinating to watch, and in hindsight it's really a distinct moment in someone's life when you see what's really wonderful about what we get to do and what's really dangerous about it."

MORE: Lindsay Lohan Is Finally Off Probation After Eight Years

In 2013, Lohan seemed to rediscover her voice when she took a turn hosting Chelsea Handler's late-night talk show, Chelsea Lately. She exuded a warmth, humor and ease fans hadn't seen from the star in a very long time, bringing her own genuine wit to the round table and teasing out a solid interview with Orphan Black star Dylan Bruce, earning rave reviews for her return to form along the way. Lohan was seemingly liberated from being "Lindsay Lohan" and could joke about her persona without being forced to apologize for her past. She was no longer just another fallen Disney princess, she was a survivor.

Forsaking Los Angeles and feeling like she lost her sanctuary of New York to the reality show, Lohan decamped for London in 2014 so she could "grow up." Soon she was offered her first lead in the prestigious West End, starring in a revival of David Mamet's Speed-the-Plow in a knowing wink to her own Hollywood experience, playing the ambitious assistant Karen to generally favorable reviews.

While Lohan has made it abundantly clear she wants to stay in London, we do hope she finds the right project to bring her back into the Hollywood fold. Lohan has already returned to independent cinema with The Shadow Within, her first horror film since the 2007 flop turned cult favorite, I Know Who Killed Me.

It's still not too late for Lohan to go after that Oscar she once coveted. She's found love at 30, so why should it be so far-fetched for her to succeed in her professional career?

"I am in a wonderful place in life and look forward to the near and far future and projects that I am working on," Lohan recently told Vanity Fair ahead of her birthday. In addition to her upcoming independent feature and a plan to do more films and start a charity, she's working on a book. "I am very excited to share my personal experiences in life and how to overcome obstacles. I hope that my words will connect with those who need some guidance when [or] if they are in a tough place. I am grateful that I have a voice, which I can now feel comfortable using as a platform to let people know that we all have ups and downs in life."

Whatever path she chooses, one thing is abundantly clear: Lohan's talent is undeniable, even in the most dreadful parts that have been thrown her way over the past decade. Lohan has continued to be the best part of everything she starred in -- yes, even opposite Streep! There is an audience waiting to reconnect with the talent that gave us Cady , Hallie, Anna, Lola, and Diane.

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