by Declan Cashin
When Lindsay Lohan stepped out on stage to host ‘Saturday Night Live’ earlier this month, it was supposed to mark her triumphant comeback after another wretched year marked by one court appearance and legal problem after another.
In reality, the show turned out to be the latest setback in the 25-year-old’s trainwreck of a career. The critics pounced.
"although last night marked her fourth time hosting SNL, it became clear early on that her range was limited. for most of the show, she was relegated to making faces in the background," cribbed ‘Entertainment Weekly’.
Added the ‘Huffington Post’: "[Lindsay] hasn’t acted in so long that her cue-card reading was really obvious."
Comedienne Joan Rivers stuck the boot in, too. "Lindsay Lohan was so bad on SNL that the judge is sending her back to rehab, but for acting lessons," read her rather lame quip on Twitter.
Singer Josh Groban even seemed personally offended by Lindsay’s hosting. "East coasters, what’s happening on #SNL?" he tweeted. "should I keep practising and working hard at what I do, or is that not necessary any more?"
Still, the show was a huge ratings hit, and, to be fair to Linsday, she had her moments, namely the ‘Real Housewives of Disney’ skit where the actress played a bitter Rapunzel.
The case of ‘LiLo’ is frustrating, because it’s not as if Hollywood hasn’t given this real-life fallen Disney princess more than one chance to put her alcohol abuse, rehab and court cases behind her.
In the mid-Noughties, around the time she was filming ‘Herbie Fully Loaded’, Lindsay’s personal problems had started to overshadow her promising career.
Having built a reputation more as a party girl than an actress (hanging out with Paris Hilton’s posse will do that), she had two chances to get her career back on track.
She landed roles in the movies ‘A Prairie Home Companion’, directed by Robert Altman and co-starring Meryl Streep, and ‘Georgia Rule’, opposite ‘Desperate Housewives’ actress Felicity Huffman and film legend Jane Fonda.
The actress was so unreliable and unprofessional on the set of the latter that she put Jane Fonda’s nose rightly out of joint.
"she parties all the time," Fonda told the press. "She’s young and she can get away with it. but … it’s hard after a while to party very hard and work very hard. She’ll learn that."
But she didn’t. After that came two trips to rehab and an 84-minute spell in jail, but Lindsay looked set to claw her way back with a guest stint on the hit TV show ‘Ugly Betty’ in 2008.
She now looked healthier, and started an attention-grabbing relationship with DJ Samantha Ronson.
But her erratic behaviour cultivated a reputation that she was too unreliable, rendering her essentially unemployable.
Still, proving that there was still some goodwill towards her in the business, Linsday landed the juicy role of porn star Linda Lovelace in a forthcoming biopic.
However, she duly lost it again a few months later, after turning up in court for a Driving Under the Influence hearing with ‘F*ck U’ spelled out on her fingertips.
She landed another stint in jail, this time for 14 days.
Since then, the actress has posed for ‘Playboy’, secured a role in the upcoming Gotti crime biopic, and has just been cast as Elizabeth Taylor in a TV movie; a job she’ll keep as long as she stays out of court.
Lindsay has since stated that she wants to win an Oscar by age 30, but her track record confirms that the only thing stopping her from achieving that is herself.
Because it’s not as if Hollywood is an especially unforgiving place that is intent on casting its wayward, down-on-their-luck stars and recidivist troublemakers forever into the wilderness.
Tinseltown loves a comeback, and the more spectacular the better.
One of the textbook examples of actors making their way back from the brink is Robert Downey Jr.
This poster boy for career rehabilitation spent most of the 1990s battling addictions to cocaine, marijuana and heroin, and ended up doing a year in rehab-prison for missing a required drug test.
His career was believed to be in the gutter, and yet, within a week of his release from the clink, Robert got a second chance with an award-winning stint on the TV comedy ‘Ally McBeal’.
However, he fell off the wagon after only a year on the show, and arrested on further drug charges.
After dodging a second spell in prison — entering drug rehab and staying on probation instead — Robert slowly started making his way back into the business, thanks in large part to his old pal Mel Gibson, who offered to pay the insurance bond to cover Robert while he made the movie ‘The Singing Detective’.
It was just the boost his recovering career needed. He went on to earn rave reviews for roles in the likes of ‘Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’ and ‘Zodiac’, before he was decreed safe enough to carry a major comic-book franchise, ‘Iron Man’, in 2008.
Robert (46) hasn’t looked back since, and today he can command upwards of $15m per movie.
Another recent comeback success story is Mickey Rourke, who’d spent his life and career battling drugs, booze and mental illness. He then wrecked his good looks forever when he turned to amateur boxing, requiring several bouts of plastic surgery.
Mickey was as washed-up as they come at the turn of millennium, but with a new humble attitude, he took on some small supporting roles that proved to be important networking opportunities.
This led to him being cast in the lead role in ‘Sin City’ in 2005, but it was ‘The Wrestler’ three years later that really brought the star back into the Hollywood fold.
Since then, Mickey (now 59) has played the villain in ‘Iron Man 2′, made a cameo in ‘The Expendables’, and is currently prepping to play gay Welsh rugby player Gareth Thomas in a forthcoming biopic.
Look also at the example of John Travolta. He might be pretty quiet these days — save for ‘flying’ Oprah’s audience to Australia — but that’s nothing compared to the drought he experienced for much of the 1980s and early 1990s.
Having become an international sensation thanks to ‘Saturday Night Fever’ and ‘Grease’, John was then reduced to fare such as the ‘Look Who’s Talking’ franchise.
But in 1994, he pulled off one of the most stunning comebacks in Hollywood history, taking a massive paycut and scruffing up to play a hitman in Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Pulp Fiction’.
An Oscar nomination ensued, and soon after John was getting up to $20m per movie.
But he shot himself in the foot again with the 2000 movie ‘Battlefield Earth’, and his continued association with Scientology hasn’t helped matters either.
There’s still some life in there yet. His cross-dressing role in ‘Hairspray’ was good fun, so there’s every chance that John Travolta has one more comeback in him.
Alas, Hollywood comebacks, like most things in life, are easier for the men than they are the women. Unfortunately for LiLo, there isn’t really a female equivalent of a Robert Downey Jr that she can use as a role model.
Probably the only contemporary example of a young actress reclaiming the respect of the industry and her peers is Drew Barrymore.
That she is such a Hollywood powerhouse today — running her own production studio and banking $12m per flick — is testament to Drew’s resilience in rehabilitating her personal and professional lives throughout her early 20s.
A child star at age six in ‘ET’, she entered rehab for drug addiction at 13, attempted suicide at 14, and was declared washed-up by the time she came of voting age.
However, after getting her act together, Drew clawed her way back with a cameo in ‘Scream’, and from there, a star was reborn.
That being said, such a comeback is probably made a tad easier when you’re the member of a legendary, Oscar-laden acting dynasty, and Steven Spielberg and Sophia Loren are your godparents.
Still, better Drew’s comeback template for Lindsay than the far more unsettling modern example of Britney Spears. After the breakdowns, divorces, rehab, head-shaving, custody battles and hospitalisations, there’s a sense that the Britney of yore just isn’t there any more.
Though she has staged successful world tours since, and surprised critics with her latest music, there’s a nagging feeling that she’s merely going through the motions to please her management, including her "conservator" father Jamie, who has spent the past five years running her career, if not her life.
That said, Britney seems to be reclaiming some independence: her father is believed to be relinquishing his conservatorship as a gift to his daughter for her upcoming nuptials to her former manager Jason Trawick.
And Simon Cowell is rumoured to be headhunting her to be a judge on the ‘US X Factor’.
But in Hollywood, actresses are more likely to make more successful comebacks from professional missteps rather than personal ones.
Even powerhouses such as Jodie Foster and Julia Roberts had their spells in the wilderness early in their careers.
For the bulk of the 1980s, one-time child star Foster went into self-imposed seclusion, ostensibly to earn her college degree, but mainly to avoid the spotlight; having a maniac shoot the American president in a bid to impress you — as John Hinckley Jr did with Ronald Reagan — will probably do that to a girl.
In 1988, a 26-year-old Jodie decided to relaunch her movie career with a small film about a waitress who is gang-raped. she was sure she’d blown it, and dreaded the public response to the movie, ‘The Accused’. it ended up being a hit, and bagged Foster the first of two best Actress Oscars.
Julia Roberts, meanwhile, made a series of bad career choices for most of the 1990s after her breakthrough in ‘Pretty Woman’.
One dud after another (‘I love Trouble’/'Mary Reilly’ anyone?) — and turned-down roles in hits such as ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ and ‘While You Were Sleeping’ — left the industry wondering if Julia’s megawatt star-power was sustainable.
She turned it around, however, by showing edginess in the spiky comedy ‘My best Friend’s Wedding’, and then bagged an Oscar with the role of her life in ‘Erin Brockovich’.
One last option for Lindsay might be to go the way of another troubled young star who blew one big chance after another, but then gained new admiration and a massive fortune by turning to TV.
Kiefer Sutherland squandered all of his goodwill in Hollywood throughout the 1990s due to his immature, unprofessional attitude and love of partying.
He had nothing left to lose in 2001 when he signed on to play a counter-terrorism agent in an innovative, though commercially risky, TV series called ’24′.
A decade later, Kiefer has a mantelpiece of awards, his pick of TV, stage and movie roles, and upwards of $40m in the bank.
Originally published in
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Can LiLo rise again?