Drugs and rehab, sex and sexuality: Event put Hollywood’s most volatile star and America’s most tenacious interviewer together in New York - for an utterly unforgettable encounter...
I met Lindsay Lohan for the first time on the day of this interview, in a borrowed luxury townhouse on the Upper West Side of Manhatta in New York.
She was wearing bright striped pyjamas, smoking a cigarette and talking very fast.
‘Shall we do it on the patio?’ she suggested. ‘I want some fresh air.’
We sat outside, and for the next 90 minutes she unburdened herself to me.
Lindsay was extraordinarily candid, never shirked a question and made me laugh as much as she made me wince.
She’s had a truly exceptional, varied and strange life.
Born in New York in 1986, she became a model at three, a soap actress at seven and a bona fide movie star at ten, when she landed the lead role in The Parent Trap alongside Dennis Quaid and Natasha Richardson.
By the time she was 19, she’d become a virtual Hollywood veteran and was earning huge money.
But then her life, and career, fell apart amid a slew of lurid headlines about her off-screen antics.
She was busted twice for drink-driving and cocaine abuse, she breached her parole and was jailed for 90 days, eventually serving two weeks in prison.
She had a lengthy lesbian relationship with an English singer-songwriter called Samantha Ronson.
She was accused of stealing a necklace from an LA store (she was convicted, but a judge later commuted the theft charge to a ‘misdemeanour’).
And she’s had multiple visits to rehab centres for various treatments.
Lindsay’s life has thus become a soap opera, with much of the drama surrounding her father Michael, a combustible former Wall Street trader prone to violence, drink and drug abuse, and who has twice been to jail.
In turn, he refutes any accusations of being a bad father, and blames Lindsay’s mother, Dina.
She – a former singer and dancer – brought up their four children virtually single-handed for much of their childhood.
Whatever you think of her, whatever you’ve read or heard about her, the Lindsay Lohan I met seemed to me to be a damaged, vulnerable young woman struggling to find normality in her often tormented life.
On the day we conducted this interview, Lindsay was just a few weeks away from starting a new, compulsory three-month stint in rehab.
Piers Morgan: So, Lindsay, how are you?
Lindsay Lohan: I’m good, thank you (lights another cigarette).
The Parent Trap turned you into a huge movie star at a very young age. If I had the power to take you back in time and say to you, ‘Lindsay, you failed that audition and you’re not going to be a movie star after all’, would you take that option, after all you’ve been through?
I would have been so angry!
But would your life have been better?
No, I believe things happen for a reason.
You don’t regret anything?
No, 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 learnt from them.
Does fame screw you up?
Yes, I think to a certain extent. But it comes with the territory, so I can’t complain about it.
Is it like a drug?
(Laughs) I don’t know that it’s like a drug, but in some ways it can be like that, because it’s addictive. I’m at my happiest when I’m on a movie set. It’s like therapy for me.
Your early life was chaotic – your dad Michael was a Wall Street trader who took a lot of drugs and alcohol.
Yes, it was chaos. It would be good for a few months, and then it would get chaotic again. It was like walking on eggshells when my father was around.
I’ve met your dad… He was charming.
I know – that’s what’s scary about him!
He’s said that his own father had a big problem with alcohol.
My dad did drugs more.
Yes. He won’t change. I just think there comes a point where you just kind of have to accept what it is. Whenever I do try to bring him back into my life, he creates chaos for me and uses it to his advantage. He’s been really good and then really crazy my whole life.
I was never afraid of him, but my younger siblings (her sister Ali, 19, and brothers Michael, 25, and Dakota (‘Cody’), 16) were terrified. My first instinct was to always make sure they and my mum were OK.
Was your dad ever physically abusive to you or your siblings?
Never me, but he threw a TV remote at my brother’s head. That was pretty scary.
How did all this affect you?
It was depressing. I was being pulled in different directions all the time and never had time to just sit and relax. Therapy helped.
When did you first go to therapy?
Around 13. I wanted to talk to someone. I didn’t want to burden Mum with everything.
When did you have your first drink?
I was 17.
Did you like it?
No, I got really sick and Mum made me sleep with vomit still on me so I’d understand how it felt. I didn’t drink again throughout high school. I was too scared!
And no drugs at that stage?
No, no, no.
So you were a clean-living teenager?
Yes. My friends and I would actually pretend to be drunk. And it was more fun. I never rebelled against my parents – I worked hard, I was responsible and I didn’t go to high-school parties.
When did you start going off the rails?
I think when I made the move to LA in my late teens. I got arrested for my first DUI (Driving Under the Influence) when I was 20 and they found me with drugs (her Mercedes struck a curb outside a club on May 26, 2007, and she was charged after police found cocaine in the car). And from then on the press were on me all the time. It was the first time I’d taken drugs; I was out in a club with people I shouldn’t have been with, and took cocaine, and got in the car. It was so stupid.
How many times have you taken cocaine?
Everyone thinks I’ve done it so many times. But I’ve only done it maybe four or five times in my life.
Yes, I don’t like it. It reminds me of my dad. I took it four times in a period from about the age of 20 to 23, and I got caught twice.
Did it make you feel good?
No. I felt a little too buzzed – it made me feel uncomfortable.
People will find it hard to believe you’ve only taken it four times.
It’s the truth. I’ve never taken heroin either, never injected myself with anything, never done LSD. Those things all scare me.
What other drugs have you tried?
Pot, obviously. And ecstasy. I liked that better than the others (giggles). I didn’t drink on it, so I was just chilling. It’s something that a lot of people experience when they’re in college. I just should have known that being in the public eye, someone was bound to say something or try to make some money off it.
So suddenly it’s all going horribly wrong for you. You’re 20 years old and you’ve gone from brilliantly successful young actress to crazy party girl – what is that doing to your head?
I wanted to ignore it. That’s what got me in trouble. I didn’t want to listen to anyone. I didn’t trust anyone.
Not even your mother?
She kept telling me to leave LA and come back home to New York. I should have listened to her. But I didn’t want to be in New York because my dad was there.
Do you blame him for what happened to you?
No, I don’t blame anyone but myself. I just didn’t want him in my life at that point because he was causing chaos. He wasn’t being a father. I even caught him cheating on Mum once, at his mother’s place.
You caught your dad cheating on your mum?
Yes. He’d disappeared for five days, so I asked Mum if we could go to my grandmother’s house and see if he was there. I got out of the car when we arrived and I saw him diving into the pool with some woman. So I ran into the house and checked her ID to see who she was. I remember running back to the car, feeling sick. I didn’t tell Mum until we got home. That woman was the one he had a secret child with, which came out in the press recently.
Your dad was drinking, taking drugs, womanising. It must have been a horrible thing for a daughter to witness?
Yes. The one thing that upset me the most when it happened was when he recorded me telling him about an argument I had with Mum. Mum and I never argued – this was only the second time we’d ever had a real fight. And then he recorded me talking about it, and gave it to the media. And it created such an untrue, hurtful picture of my relationship with my mother. It broke my heart. Mum tried so hard to keep things civil with my dad, but nothing worked.
Is he unstable?
He definitely needs to see a therapist. He went to rehab once but got kicked out. That’s one thing that’s never happened to me!
Do you drink a lot?
Not really. I’ve never been a huge drinker. I’ve never woken up in the morning and had a drink.
So you’re not a big drinker, don’t take a lot of drugs – why do you need rehab?
This is where it gets hard for me to explain. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with people taking time to just be by themselves. I think people want to see me do that. They will keep saying the same things about me if I don’t. I don’t think it will be a bad thing for me to be away with myself for three months.
Do you think you personally need this treatment, for physical or psychological reasons?
I don’t think I need to be on lockdown for three months. I don’t think that’s rehab.
How often have you been in rehab?
I’ve been court-ordered to do it six times. I could write the book on rehab. Constantly sending me to rehab is pointless. The first few times I was court-ordered to rehab it was like a joke, like killing time.
Like school detention?
Yes. They just asked me the same old questions I’d answered before.
Do you actually want to do this rehab you’re about to start?
I look at it as a good thing. I can come back afterwards and be fully focused on work. But I think there are other things I could do instead of going to a rehab centre that would benefit me more. The best thing they could do for me would be to make me go abroad to different countries and work with children.
You’ve never had it voluntarily?
Once. I went when I was doing a movie called I Know Who Killed Me, and I hadn’t been drinking for a year at that point, but I was having really bad nightmares and the movie was pretty traumatising. So I stayed in a facility so I could get some sleep and talk about it with someone the next day, because it was overwhelming. But I would leave every day and just sleep there at night. I liked that. It was kind of like having my own live-in therapist, because I was having crazy nightmares and I was having AA meetings on set and stuff. It really helped.
AA meetings? So you’re an alcoholic?
No. I don’t think so. But when I was younger I was definitely going out too much and I was drinking too much. I was accused of everything, even stealing a necklace. I’d never steal a necklace. They didn’t show the real in-store video tape to anyone, because that shows the store attendant putting it on me and me taking out cash to pay for it, and she’s saying, ‘No, you can just bring it back tomorrow.’ So, there’s like a slew of things that have gone on like that which have been such a strain.
If you were being hyper-self-critical, what would you say?
I think my two DUIs were totally irresponsible – a stupid mistake… Everyone thinks I’m this crazy drug addict who shows up late to everything and behaves so badly. But I’m not. I’m bad with timing. I always panic when people rush me. I’m like, ‘I’ll be there half an hour early if you just give me my space and don’t call me every five seconds.’
Do you know what your sexuality really is?
Yes. I like boys.
Do you think you’re bisexual?
Not really. I like being in a relationship with a guy. But there’s something just different about it with a woman. When I was with Samantha (Ronson), I didn’t want to leave, because I didn’t want to be alone. It was very toxic. And her family controlled anything she did.
Were you in love with her?
I still love her as a person.
But were you IN love with her?
I think there was a point when I was.
So you’re probably straight?
No, I know I’m straight. I have made out with girls before, and I had a relationship with a girl. But I think I needed to experience that and I think I was looking for something different.
When was the last time you took a drug?
(Long pause) Probably a year ago… some pot. But I’m not a stoner.
Did you take it a lot?
No. I have severe ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). I can’t stand still. So I take Adderall (a prescription drug) for that, it calms me. I know people who take it to stay up, or girls who take it to supposedly stay slim because it kills your appetite. But I eat all the time. I just take it to stay calm. It works well for me.
Are you on any other medication?
Trazodone (a tranquilliser) if I’ve been travelling and can’t sleep from jet lag. But in small doses, I’m not a pill-popper.
When you were drinking too much, what would you have?
I’d have vodka soda or vodka Red Bull, but the Red Bull would keep me up all night and I’d get heart palpitations. I can’t drink it any more. I never liked the taste of it, anyway.
From all you’ve told me, if it’s the truth, I don’t get a picture of the crazy messed-up junkie I read about all the time.
I’ve never been a junkie, and never will be. I just like going out late to clubs with friends and listening to music. Always have done. It’s not that unusual for girls of 26!
Can you give up drinking?
Yes, I’m fine with that. I don’t drink every day. Heath Ledger (who died from a prescription drugs overdose in 2008) told me to give it up for a year because he’d just done that, and so I did and it wasn’t a problem for me. I didn’t miss it, I felt good. That’s not to say that years from now I won’t have a glass of wine at a dinner, but I’d rather not drink and just focus on work.
Everyone assumes you’re always drinking. You’ve become a one-woman rumourville.
Right, even the judges believe the rumours. That’s the problem.
Who in Hollywood has been good to you?
Meryl Streep was nice. She just advised me on my acting and what I needed to do differently, and she told me I needed to go back to live with my mum for a while.
But you didn’t?
I couldn’t by then. I wasn’t allowed to leave the state of California because of the court orders. I was trapped by my probation requirements in the worst-possible place I could be. Jamie Lee Curtis was very kind to me, too. She also told me to listen to good advice and to get rid of the hangers-on.
Are you seeing anyone now?
Apparently, I’m dating my friend Mo, a producer.
No, I kind of was for a minute but it wasn’t the right timing and so we’re still friends. And we kind of knew that. I’ve been seeing this other guy but he’s away right now. I’ll see him next week. I don’t know, I’m not concerned about being in a relationship right now. I want to work for a year and then eventually settle down and have children and a husband.
What was the happiest moment of your life?
The day I got the Parent Trap role. I was so happy.
And the unhappiest?
The day I had to turn myself in to jail, and I had to see my mum’s face. I spent 12 days inside and I felt utter shock and cried for four days straight.
You’re about to go into rehab and have three months to sort yourself out – do you think you will?
Yes. Being in New York has helped me. Just being with my family more, and being able to walk around and have more of a life.