Lindsay Lohan is back.
At the height of her fame in the aughts, there wasn’t a day that the former child star wasn’t making headlines. But after years out of the spotlight, and jetting as far away from Hollywood as she possibly could, Lohan, 34, will make her return to acting next year in a Netflix holiday rom-com — one of the streamer’s most popular tentpoles.
But observers are wondering: Why now? Currently living in Dubai with her long-time banker boyfriend, Lohan has spent the past few years concentrating on her lifestyle business, with her eponymous clubs in Greece and a new passion for “NFTs” — non-fungible tokens — where pieces of art are being sold digitally for millions of dollars. Why would she trade her peaceful, comfortable existence for a highly visible business that was so cruel to her?
It could be that today’s world is kinder to its young stars. Famous women who were treated abysmally by the press 20 years ago — Britney Spears, Paris Hilton and Monica Lewinsky among them — are being seen in a new, more sympathetic light as people have begun to grasp the difficulty of their situations.
“She was always being used by people, treated like meat by the paparazzi,” an old friend of Lohan’s who has known her since her early teens told The Post. “She was followed, and friends sold her out left and right. It was hard to watch — and she had no real guidance.”
“We all contributed to what happened and we didn’t stop it. We provided her with so much access to things that I don’t think a teenager should have, access to clubs, for instance. She was 17 or 18, and these were places she had no business being at that age.” Then, in May, a shocking tweet from Chrissy Teigen, who’s been criticized for her past online bullying behavior, was suddenly unearthed. In a since-deleted Twitter post from January 2011, Teigen, acting like a real-life “Mean Girl,” wrote, “Lindsay adds a few more slits to her wrists when she sees emma stone.” Teigen was making light of the actress’ admission that she’d cut herself in the past.
Lohan has so far not commented on Teigen’s bullying, but mom Dina told The Post on Friday that the 2011 post upset everyone in the family. “When someone says hurtful words, they’re not just hurting that person, they’re hurting their siblings, their mother, their grandma,” Dina said. “They’re inflicting so much pain.”
Lohan started modeling as a toddler, and at 11 years old she filmed Nancy Meyers’ remake of “The Parent Trap” in 1998, deftly playing twins — one British, one American — opposite Dennis Quaid and the late Natasha Richardson. Her acting prowess was instantly obvious.
Her father, Michael Lohan, reminisced about taking his young daughter to her final audition for the movie. “When Lindsay was growing up, Dina would take her for her modeling, and when she was 8, she got [the soap opera] ‘Another World,’” he told The Post. “When I brought her to her audition for ‘The Parent Trap,’ it was the first time I ever saw her act.
“I was standing behind the camera with Nancy and her [then] husband Charles and it was the part where Lindsay was in bed with Natasha and I just started bawling. I couldn’t believe how talented she was. It was unbelievable.”
From there, Lohan’s acting career took off. In 2003, she starred in “Freaky Friday” with Jamie Lee Curtis, and then snagged her most famous role just a year later, as Cady Heron in Tina Fey’s now-classic teen comedy “Mean Girls.”
But her meteoric rise took its toll on her personal life.
Lohan’s old friend was around as her fame came crashing down on her like a sledgehammer at 17. “Lindsay blew up right after ‘Freaky Friday’ and I watched her rise and fall,” the friend said. “She couldn’t enjoy a good night out without it being on the cover of Us Weekly or in Page Six, she couldn’t go on a date — and that’s a really hard life to live.”
The situation further unraveled. In 2007, Lohan was twice convicted of drunk driving, once for drug use, made three trips to rehab and served an 84-minute jail stay. She appeared in court more than 20 times amid her substance abuse struggles from 2007 to 2012.
Dina said: “Back then, there were a group of girls who were targeted by the media, when the tabloids became weekly, they couldn’t go anywhere … being watched 24/7 can really destroy someone’s life. And now we’re looking back on everything with fresh eyes to see how badly treated these girls were.”
Michael Lohan pointed out that other stars have been treated far more kindly than his daughter despite making bigger mistakes.
Michael — who had his own publicized legal woes — told The Post: “I’m really proud of Lindsay in all aspects of her personal and professional life. With the launch of her next project(s), I truly hope the industry sees that she’s on top of her game once again and still one of the most talented actresses in the entertainment business.
“They’ve been so supportive and forgiving of so many others who have had tougher falls than her, and I do hope they finally do the same for my amazingly gifted and talented daughter.”
It was after years of being hounded by paparazzi and battling addiction that Lohan practically withdrew from acting in the early 2010s and moved abroad, splitting her time between the UAE and Europe. In Dubai, she also runs her own jewelry line, Lily Baker Jewels.
To those who know Lohan, she really had no choice, they say. “At one time, she was unbondable — she could not get insurance to work,” said one industry expert. “And maybe that had some stigma among Hollywood.”
“I believe things happen for a reason,” Lohan later said of her struggles. “I live without regrets. There are certain things I have done, mistakes that I made, that I would change, but I don’t regret them at all, because I’ve learned from them.”
Lohan has largely refrained from acting in recent years — although critics said she was the only good thing about Paul Schrader’s widely panned 2013 movie, “The Canyons.” She appeared in a West End production of David Mamet’s play “Speed-the-Plow” in 2014; had a recurring role on the British TV comedy “Sick Note” in 2018; starred in the MTV reality show “Lindsay Lohan’s Beach Club” in 2019; and later that year, appeared as a judge on the Australian version of “The Masked Singer.”
The actress was primed to perform once more. On CNN’s New Year’s Eve special in 2019, just weeks before the pandemic sent the globe into lockdown, Lohan told hosts Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen that she wanted to “come back to America and start filming again,” and “[take] back the life that I worked so hard for, and sharing it with my family and you guys.”
She will film her Netflix project, which is described as being in the same vein as Goldie Hawn’s 1987 comedy “Overboard,” in November. It will be ready for peak 2022 holiday viewing.
Lohan’s been cast as a “newly engaged, spoiled hotel heiress” who gets amnesia after a skiing accident in the yet-untitled project, where she “finds herself in the care of a handsome, blue-collar lodge owner and his precocious daughter in the days leading up to Christmas.”
The actress retains a great sense of humor about her life. Just days ago on Instagram, she posted a photo of herself in a tank top, writing: “On Fridays, we wear white,” in clear reference to the “Mean Girls” line: “On Wednesdays, we wear pink.” One month ago, she also paid tribute to her former on-screen mom Richardson, who died at age 45 in 2009 following a tragic skiing accident on her birthday, writing: “Happy Birthday angel.”
“She’s in such a good place in her life, she’s clear and focused,” said a source.
Dina said, “Lindsay’s now 34, she’s grown up, but everyone is looking to the future. She said, ‘Mommy, I’m ready to do movies again, I want to do what I love and what makes me happy.’” She also said Lohan is keen to try her hand at directing.
Lohan’s old friend added: “Yes, she made a s–t ton of mistakes, but she was shoved — not put — into the lion’s den.
“And I am rooting for her comeback. She shouldn’t be judged for who she was when she was a teenager. Would any of us want to be judged on our teenage years and early 20s?”