By Chris Lee
A correction has been added to this post, as indicated below.
8:11 AM CDT, August 19, 2013
Her name is Lindsay and she is a chaos addict.
That was the No. 1 takeaway from Lindsay Lohan’s amply hyped interview with Oprah Winfrey, a “television event” broadcast on the talk show doyenne’s Oprah Winfrey Network program “Oprah’s Next Chapter” in back-to-back airings Sunday night.
Over the course of their revealing yet somehow bloodless one-hour conversation -- taped just four days after Lohan was released from three months of court-mandated rehab at the Cliffside Malibu clinic -- Hollywood’s reigning celebrity train wreck made repeated reference to the “chaos” that has governed her life: her “chaotic” upbringing, her “uncontrollable” family life and the “whirlwind of garbage” Lohan created for herself by courting high drama seemingly at every turn.
Asked by Winfrey about her 2010 jail sentence for probation violations, Lohan owned up to her chaos addiction and explained that her trip behind bars came as something of a relief.
“At that point, being in my addiction and having all the chaos around me that I was so comfortable with, I somewhere inside knew and kind of wanted to go to jail,” Lohan said. “That was subconsciously being put out there by my actions -- or lack thereof.”
Later, asked point-blank by Winfrey, “Do you think you are or were addicted to chaos?” Lohan clarified her position.
“It was a comfortable chaos for me,” she said. “So what was chaotic to some other people from the outside looking in was normal.”
Appearing solemn -- demure in a tangerine-colored dress, hair pulled back in a pony-tail -- facing some difficult questions by the queen of TV chat (whose new movie drama, “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” incidentally, claimed the top spot at the box office this weekend), LiLo’s post-rehab exit interview arrived as a kind of inevitable outcome.
That is, it was the final come-clean for a repeat celebrity offender whose rap sheet includes cocaine possession and shoplifting as well as numerous literal run-ins with paparazzi (resulting in crumpled fenders and injured wrists and legs), multiple drunk-driving convictions, jail stints and at least six stays in rehab.
In perhaps the most telling sign of her party-hearty infamy, Lohan remains on a short list of twentysomething actresses for whom major news organizations maintain pre-written obituaries.
But on Sunday, Lohan presented a competing version of herself: a clear-eyed, self-acknowledged addict whose recent spiritual awakening goes hand in hand with a newfound ability to honestly confront her shortcomings as her “own worst enemy.”
Looking healthier than she appears in “The Canyons,” the micro-budget indie thriller in which she stars and that was released to some positive reviews earlier this month, Lohan accepted responsibility for her messy private life -- for being known “as an adjective and verb for bad behavior and child star gone wrong,” as Winfrey put it -- while attempting to put that reputation behind her.
“I hate that title,” said Lohan, 27. “That’s not what I ever aspired to be.”
For the first time, the actress addressed specific chemical issues. She described becoming dependent on Adderall, a prescription stimulant she said began taking after being diagnosed with attention-deficit disorder. “I was convinced it grounded me,” she said.
Moreover, the Long Island, N.Y. native detailed how her abuse of the sleep aid Ambien resulted in her first trip to rehab in 2007. And despite having claimed to have taken cocaine only “four or five” times in a May interview with Piers Morgan on CNN -- before entering her most recent rehab stay -- Lohan told Winfrey she had taken cocaine “10 to 15” times, mainly because it provided stamina for what she described as her more over-riding addiction: alcohol.
“It allowed me to drink more,” Lohan said. “That’s why I did it. It was a party thing.”
Even while Winfrey held Lohan’s feet to the fire about her addictions, the talk-show host allowed her ample opportunity to contextualize her wild behavior with a textbook “too much too soon” defense. Winfrey noted that by age 18, the “Mean Girls” star was a burgeoning ingenue earning $7 million per movie while living in Los Angeles without parental supervision.
Bad news, right? In turn, Lohan ran with the opportunity to explain that, absent any oversight -- monetary, parental, social and otherwise -- she began making the poor decisions that have played out like so much bad reality TV ever since.
Winfrey reserved her hardest line of questioning for Lohan’s family life, asking the actress if she ever felt exploited by her parents. Exhibit A: The talk-show host cited a much publicized 2012 blowout in which Lohan’s father, Michael, recorded Lohan calling him, hysterically accusing mother Dina of having taken cocaine and misappropriating a $40,000 loan. Michael Lohan released the recording to the tabloid press, causing a serious family fracture.
Appearing to fight back tears on “Oprah’s Next Chapter,” Lindsay denied that her mother had taken the drug during their argument -- “I said a lot of things that were not true” -- and disputed the idea that her parents used her for any personal gain.
“I hate what a bad rap people give my parents because they’re just parents, at the end of the day, trying to stand up for their daughter and themselves,” Lohan said.
Sunday night’s broadcast arrived as an appetizer course for another LiLo-centric, OWN-branded extravaganza: an eight-part docu-series focusing on, the network said, Lohan’s “struggles, her career, and her plans for the future.” The series, for which the struggling star will earn a reported $2-million payday, is scheduled to air next year.
On that as-yet-untitled show, audiences will also presumably be able to gauge Lohan’s newfound commitment to sobriety and whether she’s been able to kick the addiction to chaos that has fostered her reputation as, in her words, “this celebrity who’s in trouble all the time.”
So far, the Oprah connection seems to be making its positive influence felt on Hollywood’s foremost Girl Interrupted. As Sunday’s interview was winding down -- after Lohan pledged her renewed commitment to the craft of acting, after she had talked up her new head-space and acknowledged how lucky she is to have another crack at returning to entertainment-industry good graces through promotional appearances such as “Oprah’s Next Chapter” -- Winfrey buttonholed the actress about her upcoming trip to Europe. Lohan described it as a meditation-and-yoga retreat with her younger brother; the TV host characterized it as a journey to a party playground.
Pointing out the fragile nature of the recovery process and Lohan’s rehab release only four days earlier, Winfrey ultimately made her point by asking a simple question: “Is that the best decision for you at this time?”
Two days after the interview, a title card informed viewers, Lohan canceled her trip to Europe.
“It’s a process off growing up and recognizing and being just so tired and exhausted by the chaos,” Lohan said in what could be easily construed as her new mission statement Sunday. “I have had no right in my past to complain about being followed by cameras and people making up stories. But there’s something to be said about me moving forward.”
[For the record, 6:30 p.m. Aug. 19: A previous version of this post implied that Lohan’s police record includes carjacking. She has never been arrested on suspicion of that crime.]
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