Lindsay Lohan’s journey back to the “right track” has already made a few stops, each raising questions about whether she’ll ever end up at that desired destination. There was the Liz & Dick fiasco, then the raw and riveting Canyons performance. There was the portrait of a professional nightmare painted in the New York Times magazine story on the Canyons production, and then the charming, poised, and reliable-seeming actress who showed up to guest-host Chelsea Lately.
After traveling all those peaks and valleys on the way to a career comeback, Lohan made the ultimate stop Sunday night: a tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey. The sit-down required Lohan to succumb to Oprah at her ultimate Oprah-ness, a one-on-one interview in which the media queen had one skeptical eyebrow perpetually raised, demanding she get an answer to the question, “Is this girl really serious about changing her life?”
Transfixingly candid and gamely stepping up to the plate for a round of hardball, Lohan seemed to be answering yes. Sunday night’s interview was the biggest vote of confidence yet that Lohan could come back after all.
There were the juicy revelations that viewers no doubt were hoping to get, and Lohan spoke about them all with a lack of vanity and with apparently thoughtful honesty:
—Her first time in rehab was after an Ambien “scare.” She acknowledged that her second stint, court ordered after her first DUI, was a joke: “I couldn’t take Promises seriously.”
—She called herself an addict, barely flinching before answering “yeah” after Oprah point blank asked if she is. She’s addicted to alcohol, she said, adding that it was also her “gateway to other things.”
—She’s only done cocaine 10 or 15 times, and only because it allowed her to drink more. “It was a party thing,” she said. She’s never injected any drug.
—For the first time since she was a child, Lohan’s not taking Adderall. “That’s a big deal,” she said.
—The best, most Oprah-tastic, juiciest question Winfrey asked was, “What does it feel like to you to be both an adjective and a verb for bad behavior and child star gone wrong?” What a question! “I hate that label and that title,” Lohan said, but added that she understands where it comes from. “I’m my own worst enemy, and I know that.”
—She was ridiculously rich when she was 18 and had no idea what to do with all her money. She made $7 million for the romantic comedy Just My Luck. “Too much,” she told Oprah. Have you seen Just My Luck? Too much, indeed.
—The accusations she made against her mother—chiefly that she was on cocaine—during an enraged phone call to her father that leaked earlier this year were made up, she said, because she was annoyed at her and “just on one.” Despite the media narrative that Michael and Dina Lohan have toxically exploited their daughter—and a pretty solid case file has been built to support that theory—Lindsay refused to say a bad thing about either of her parents, despite Oprah’s prodding suggestions that they’ve sold her out. She barely took her father to task for leaking that tape and said she’s going to lunch with both parents next week.
But the real point of the interview and the reason Lohan agreed to it wasn’t to feed tabloids with headlines recounting the specifics of her downward spiral. It was, in Lohan’s words, “to get the thing back that has made me the happiest in my whole life, which is just to work really hard and prove myself in the way I did before and l lost it.” She continued, “I need to regain the trust of people in my career that have their doubts, and I fully respect that on their behalf.”
Part of winning back that trust is admitting the problem. And that problem is the reputation that doesn’t just precede Lohan but charges into a potential employer’s office like a bull in a china shop wearing a name tag that says “Hello, my name is Disaster.” The most refreshing thing about the Oprah interview was the absence of any hint of denial from Lohan or even the smallest attempt to pass the blame. The Lohan on set was a self-aware girl who knows exactly what the world thinks of her and is desperate to change their minds. She seemed to understand that the only way to do that was to show them this new, enlightened person—this remarkably intelligent person, even. Indeed, one of the most unexpected insights from Sunday’s interview was how smart Lohan seems to be, a revelation that should serve her incredibly well on her comeback quest.
Delivering a nuanced, impressive performance in The Canyons was one thing. Showing off a bubbly, engaging personality on Chelsea Lately was another. But this interview went beyond proving that she’s a talented actress deserving of another shot at a career—people have been praising her squandered talent throughout this whole debacle. It provided the reassurance that Lohan is committed to a healthy life, serious about wanting to return to work, and, more than both those things, has her wits about her.
There should be little doubt now that the Lindsay Lohan comeback we’ve all been questioning for such a long time can and even should happen. And the press would welcome it. Sure, a press frenzy followed shaved-head-crazy Britney Spears’s every move, but coverage of her resurgence has been just as rampant and exponentially more gleeful. Ditto for Robert Downey Jr., Drew Barrymore, and the red carpet’s worth of celebrities who have managed to leave their demons behind and then become more popular than ever. There’s a reason we’re glued to these big first tell-alls celebrities agree to after leaving rehab or jail. As much as we’re interested in stories about rock bottom, we’re eager to witness their redemption, too.
The last few seconds of Sunday’s Oprah–Lindsay interview should dispel any doubts that the star is ready for her redemption. Winfrey lectured Lohan about her plans to leave a few days after their interview to go on a trip to Europe, saying such a major trip seemed like a disaster waiting to happen for a person just out of rehab and supposedly serious about staying on the straight and narrow. Lohan told her that she’d consider her advice.
Just before the credits rolled, the screen cut to black, revealing a title card: “Two days later, Lindsay canceled her vacation to Europe.”