I watched the 1964 crime drama Kitten With a Whip ahead of my interview with actress Lindsay Lohan. It’s a film that came out 22 years before Dina and Michael Lohan brought their eldest of four into the world. It’s a film I know Lohan loves—and for good reason. In the film, Ann-Margret portrays Jody Dvorak, a blonde, green-eyed 17-year-old fugitive on a defiant journey through chaos with no predetermined destination. The film name alone, up there with Sex, Lies, and Videotape among the greats, suggests a role many actors would gleefully attempt to sink their teeth into. Yet it’s not remembered as a great film of its time or even among Ann-Margret’s filmography, and thus, I’m struck by Lohan’s reverence for what in present-day parlance would be regarded as a deep cut. 

Lohan first watched the film in her early 20s—she is 36—and rightly noted how it was unlike anything Ann-Margret (who had just come off Bye Bye Birdie and Viva Las Vegas) had done at the time. "I wanted to play a role like that,” she says. Though she has worked with some of the greats, including Robert Altman and Garry Marshall, Lohan has seldom been given Jody Dvorak–esque roles, characters so against type that they somehow, inextricably, end up being exactly right. They’re the kinds of roles she’s both capable of and eager to portray. (But I am curious what Ann-Margret would make of Lohan’s role as April Booth in 2010’s Machete.)

Lohan’s latest, the Netflix rom-com Falling for Christmas, puts her back at the top of the call sheet, a spot she hasn’t occupied since 2013’s The Canyons and 2009’s Labor Pains. Her near decade off our screens is not a topic she’s overly keen to dissect. She understands that such an absence can create outsized expectations, something she’s trying to mitigate. And I get it. So much of present-day pop culture works in overdrive. We call it the "Jean Smartaissance” with Hacks even though she’d been Emmy nominated just a season earlier for Watchmen, and Beyonce’s Renaissance is framed as her musical comeback even though she’d released the Grammy- and Emmy-winning Black Is King just two years earlier. But when it comes to Lohan, an actress who The New York Times once called simply "our greatest export,” there is a palpable excitement and an unbelievable amount of public goodwill for what feels rightly deemed a comeback. Even Netflix is using the term "the Lohanaissance” in its marketing.


(Image credit: Jingyu Lin; Styling: Christian Siriano top and skirt; Swarovski necklace; Octavia Elizabeth ring; Pomellato ring)

Why she stopped working, whether it was by choice or by circumstance, is not entirely clear. What is clear is that life largely out of the spotlight has mellowed her. "Whenever you slow down, you realize that every little thing can make you happy in a different way,” Lohan says. She moved to Dubai in 2014, where paparazzi are illegal ("I found it to be a sacred space for me. I could do my own thing, and nobody bothered me.”), and married financier Bader Shammas, whom she calls the love of her life, earlier this year. Though she launched a podcast, The Lohdown With Lindsay Lohan, in April ("It’s refreshing to be the curious one”), we became largely accustomed to our greatest export in repose.

But seemingly out of the blue came the 2021 announcement that Lohan would be returning to acting with the Netflix holiday rom-com Falling for Christmas. "It’s hard to explain the rush of happiness that I got because I hadn’t done a movie in so long,” she admits, saying she got "a little panicked” throughout production about the possibility of any leaks. "You want your movie to be kept under wraps because you don’t want scrutiny on it even before it’s finished.” And it’s Lohan’s presence on a film set that, no matter what the project would have been, was going to attract attention. To that end, it seems like no coincidence that Lohan opted for a holiday rom-com as her first film in nearly a decade as opposed to the story of a wanted fugitive.

In her time away, the film industry has radically changed. Streaming has overtaken the space. The days of eight-month shoots (as was the case with Lohan’s film debut in 1998’s The Parent Trap) have been upended by six-week shoots, which compress the budget. It’s something producers hope is not reflected in the end product but also something that radically alters the experiences of actors, whose time occupying a role and on set is consolidated. "The world of film now is just so different,” Lohan says. "You can put a blue screen up anywhere and make the backdrop anything, and as actors, our job is to imagine that we’re in that place, whereas with something like The Parent Trap, we shot in London. We shot in Napa. We shot in L.A.” In today’s world, the Switzerland-set Falling for Christmas was instead shot in Park City, Utah. "Everything is such a quicker process these days. Everything got sped up in a way,” she adds. 


(Image credit: Jingyu Lin; Styling: Sportmax dress; Pomellato necklace and bracelet; Stuart Weitzman shoes)

Lohan doesn’t seem fazed by it. "Excitement,” "gratitude,” and "a blessing” are just some of the words Lohan uses in abundance throughout our interview, signaling an appreciation for opportunities like this one, as opposed to the sort of resentment I imagine some actors feel about the lost art of moviemaking as it once existed.

So why did she choose this film, one that’s about as safe a comeback vehicle as there could be? Well, it’s just that. "I wanted to do something where people felt like I hadn’t left,” she says. "You know a lot of people say ‘comeback’ and stuff, and that puts a lot of pressure on the situation, and I’m not one that wants that attention.” And perhaps it’s that which makes Lohan still so magnetizing all these years later: One of the few people in the world with the fame so many seek simply doesn’t want it. I guess that’s what they call irony, right?

"I’m not the kind of person that thinks about the movies I’ve done and how well versed I am in this industry,” Lohan says. Instead, she perks up most at the talking points an interviewer like myself often inserts to build rapport, not gain intel. This fascinates not because she’s being inauthentic but because she’s magnetized by the mundane, a characteristic I think Lohan is eager to portray. But that isn’t to say it’s inauthentic. "I love the routine,” she says of film sets. "I love my matcha latte, or now, I’ve switched to oat-milk coffee, which I feel fancy even saying. I am that really cheery person every morning on set. I love greeting my crew and doing my own audio mic. And I always look forward to my short 30-minute lunch break. It just excites me.”

But Lohan’s business-mindedness comes through as well. It was her idea to have her character sing "Jingle Bell Rock” in the film, both a nod to the Bobby Helms classic she sang in 2004’s Mean Girls and something she pitched to the film’s producers as good content for the blooper reel, an art form we both agree is what really needs to make a comeback. "Audiences need to see that we actually had fun making [the film],” she says.


(Image credit: Jingyu Lin; Styling: Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini jacket and dress; Octavia Elizabeth earrings and rings; Giuseppe Zanotti shoes)

A notable detail about Lohan emerges when I push as to whether new music is on the horizon. "I slowed down on the singing because my sister’s biggest passion in life is singing, and I really wanted her to have that path and didn’t want to distract from that at all,” she says. Lohan even arranged to have her sister Ali’s song "Without You” featured in the film. "If you hear music from me, it will hopefully be in a movie musical,” Lohan says when asked about a follow-up to 2005’s A Little More Personal (Raw). (I’d love a Starlight Express movie musical for her if we’re taking requests.) But what about another proper album? "I’ve done a ton of songs that are sitting, waiting. Maybe five years down the line, I’ll do another album,” she says. She also hopes to one day direct a film herself, something she’s actively pursuing.

In the meantime, she’s got her sights firmly set on a future with more regular acting gigs. Following filming of Falling for Christmas, Lohan expanded her relationship with Netflix with a two-picture deal beginning with Irish Wish, which is set to be released next year. "It’s a bigger movie in a sense,” she says. "It’s a lot more physical comedy. I get to really go deep. It was nice for me to be able to go there because I had to get my feet wet and do Falling for Christmas, and I really wanted to push it more for this one. The one thing that I haven’t done that I’d really love to do is enter the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That’s my dream.” It’s not exactly Kitten With a Whip, but then again, it’s not the same Hollywood.


(Image credit: Jingyu Lin; Styling: Christian Siriano top and skirt; Swarovski necklace; Octavia Elizabeth ring; Pomellato ring)

But there’s also another project—one that hasn’t even materialized—that’s spawned an entire news cycle of late: Freaky Friday 2. In multiple interviews during her Halloween Ends press tour, Jamie Lee Curtis expressed interest in a sequel to the 2003 film that saw Curtis and Lohan do a mother/daughter body swap. "We have always remained very close,” Lohan says of her on-screen mother, purposefully deflecting the inevitable next question. "It would be a very exciting adventure to go on, and I would be more than happy, and I would not say no. I would say yes. We’ll see.” Despite Lohan’s diplomatic response, there’s an all-knowingness to her shift in tone that seems to imply that wishes will be commanded sooner rather than later.

For now, she’s getting back into the groove of a press cycle. She’s readying for the New York premiere of the film, which will be her first red carpet foray with famed image architect Law Roach, whose client list includes Zendaya and Celine Dion. Lohan admits she’s less up on the current wave of young designers but lights up talking about the friends she made in the fashion industry, such as Karl Lagerfeld, Azzedine Alaïa, and Miuccia Prada. "I haven’t gone to Paris in so long. I haven’t gone to fashion week. I miss that,” she says. "I do miss being involved in the fashion scene. It’s funny. I think about when I was creative director for Ungaro, and I got so much backlash for putting nipple tassels on the girls on the runway, and now, everyone does that, or they’re not wearing anything, and I’m like, [laughs] ‘That’s not fair!’”


(Image credit: Jingyu Lin; Styling: Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini dress and gloves; Octavia Elizabeth earrings and necklace; Stuart Weitzman shoes)

That’s the thing about being Lindsay Lohan. She’s constantly been ahead of her time in a sense, and she was punished for it. Maybe that’s why she went away. And maybe that’s why she isn’t overly eager to be back in the spotlight, always more keen to talk shop than to gossip. "I don’t want to overexpose, and I also don’t want to distract from the work I have coming out,” she adds. Maybe society has simply woken up, or maybe a cultural reckoning around 2000s celeb culture has something to do with it. Either way, for the first time, Lindsay Lohan’s timing seems just right.


(Image credit: Jingyu Lin )

Photographer: Jingyu Lin 

Stylist: Lauren Eggertsen 

Hairstylist: Danielle Priano 

Makeup Artist: Kristofer Buckle

Manicurist: Elle Gerstein 

Set Designer: Selena Liu 

Executive Creative Director: Alexa Wiley 

DP: William Wu