Am I disappointed that Lindsay Lohan doesn’t stagger shitfaced into our interview five hours late with armed police in hot pursuit? Maybe a tiny bit. After years of her being tabloid news – multiple arrests, car crashes, jail time – I was expecting my encounter with Lohan to feature a little drama. However, the LiLo who turns up for lunch in a Mayfair hotel is articulate, personable and a mere 15 minutes late, so basically early. Now 28, she’s more ‘grown up’ in person than you expect: tall, with a deep voice and almost nothing of the baby-face seen in her most famous roles. From some of her replies, I get the impression she’s spent many hours on the therapist’s couch. But really, the most eccentric thing she does is to order potatoes dauphinoise as a starter, which is pretty good going for a woman who has been in ‘the industry’ since the age of three.
As a global celebrity, Lohan’s career so far has had two phases. The first, as the brightest child actor of the noughties, saw her strike box-office gold as star of ‘The Parent Trap’, ‘Freaky Friday’ and the peerless ‘Mean Girls’. Phase two saw her slip into addiction and face multiple court appearances for drunk driving and drug possession. Her acting career collapsed as her fame continued to grow – something that came to a head with this year’s ‘Lindsay’, a very uncomfortable Oprah Winfrey-produced docusoap about the actress’s attempts to get sober (which apparently she is). And now, in London, is the hoped-for beginning of Lindsay Lohan: act three. She’s about to make her stage debut in a West End revival of ‘Speed-the-Plow’, David Mamet’s brusque 1988 Hollywood satire. In a role first interpreted by Madonna, Lohan will play Karen, the secretary of a boorish producer, whom she tries to manipulate into green-lighting an offbeat script she’s fallen in love with.
Is it going to be a success? We’ll find out soon enough. The project is being directed by the ultra-experienced Brit Lindsay Posner (‘he calls me “Lins”,’ Lohan says, when I ask about the name clash), with stage veterans Nigel Lindsay (yep, that’s ‘Lindsay’ number three) and Richard Schiff backing her up. All that aside, though, let’s bear in mind that it wasn’t bad acting that stunted Lohan’s early promise. Over the course of an animated, enthusiastic chat I don’t get the sense that she’s a flake. And even if her stint on the boards isn’t a hit, Lohan has clearly moved on with her life somewhat: raised in New York and brought low in LA, these days, it turns out, she’s a fully fledged Londoner.
How come you’re in London doing a David Mamet play?
‘I’m at a point when I want a diligent routine and I really want to get back into work. And I wanted to do something different: people have certain perceptions of me and I wanted to change them by doing something like a Mamet play. I’m hoping it’ll take away attention from me as a celebrity name and draw attention to the fact that I’m an actress.’
But why London?
‘I was here in London already! I said to my agent: “Look, I really need to move to London, I have to get out of New York.” After the Oprah show, I felt I’d lost my privacy.’
So you’re a proper Londoner now?
‘I have a flat, yeah. I sold my place in New York. I love the energy of New York but I feel London’s more adult. I mean, things do close here.
How did you land the role exactly?
‘So I’ve moved to London and I’m getting a little bored because I’m not working, and then my agent got a call from one of the producers and Lindsay Posner saying, “Can we meet tomorrow? We want her to do this play.” And we went for lunch at the Ivy and they said, “So you wanna do it?” and I said, “Yeah” and they said, “Great.” I said, “You’re just giving me the part, that’s it? Oh my God, thank you so much!”’
In your short time here you’ve become synonymous with [ludicrously exclusive restaurant] Chiltern Firehouse. Is that fair?
‘When I first went there it wasn’t properly open. And then like all of a sudden there’s tons of paparazzi, so I stopped going for a while. But it’s funny I’ve become associated with it.’
Any other London tips?
‘I’m always in Mayfair: I walk to China Tang on Sundays. I love Cecconi’s. I love Roka. I love walking in Notting Hill; I watched the World Cup there!’
Is this your first time on stage? Did you ever do a school play?
‘Erm, I did one: I did “Cinderella”, I was one of the step-sisters. But I was really young, so no. This is all completely new to me. I know I’m gonna be nervous but everyone’s been so nice. David Mamet sent me a note and this charm that said, “I’m really thrilled that you’re doing the play.”’
‘Speed-the-Plow’ is about how horrible Hollywood is. Did you recognise much in it?
‘A lot. My character gets a taste of the Hollywood life, and I think this happens in LA a lot: people get hooked on the adrenaline that comes with making movies and get out of their depth.’
Do you want to go back into the movies? Is part of the reason for doing this to make you employable again?
‘I think it definitely helps. I think it shows that I can be accountable and I think it helps with the perception that I’m just a psycho that goes out and stuff. I’ve done things, but people grow up and they change. I’m willing to work hard to gain back the respect that I once had and have lost.’
Is there a five-year plan?
‘In five years I would like to be married and have children, and hopefully be at the Oscars, but that’s as far as it goes for now.’
‘It’s been ten years since ‘Mean Girls’: how do you feel about it looking back?
‘People really love the movie: how do you top that? I was with Tina Fey [‘Mean Girls’ writer] the other day and I said we should do another “Mean Girls”, like an older version where they’re all housewives and they’re all cheating. That would be really funny. I’ll harass Tina to write it.’
Lindsay Lohan stars in ‘Speed-the-Plow’ which runs at the Playhouse Theatre, Sep 24-Nov 29