Lindsay’s Back!

Lindsay Lohan has returned to Hollywood. She’s bringing the peace she’s found — abroad and in marriage and motherhood — with her.

Written by Samantha Leach
Woman with stylish sunglasses, shiny sequined top, and voluminous hair against a gray backdrop.
Tom Munro/Bustle

Even in a whisper, Lindsay Lohan’s voice is arrestingly familiar. It’s like you hear her before you see her. As soon as I walk into the designated suite at New York’s Plaza Hotel, there it is, the sonorous rasp that introduced Lohan as a sly beyond her years pre-teen in the Parent Trap, telling me that she’s put her 8-month-old son, Luai, down for a nap. The baby’s in a different suite entirely, with Lohan’s husband, Bader Shammas, but she can’t shake the soft talk.

“It’s a whole new, different kind of love you thought you could never experience,” the 37-year-old says. Lohan is noticeably softer in demeanor, but she looks impossibly herself: hair luminously copper, freckles peeking out from beneath glam leftover from a morning show, wearing black loungewear and a yellow-gold Luai nameplate necklace. She pauses to text Shammas, to make sure the baby’s settled (he has), and sits down on the parlor couch, feet tucked under her.

Versace dress, Van Cleef & Arpels jewelry, Giuseppe Zanotti shoes

Luai’s arrival has coincided with Lohan’s most professionally active period in decades. She was six months pregnant when she appeared in the Mean Girls reboot, and Luai and Shammas traveled with Lohan to shoot her third Netflix film, a Christmas movie co-starring Kristin Chenoweth and Tim Meadows. Family life has added an emotional layer to her work. “I had a scene where I was crying, and then my husband surprised me with the baby on set, so then I was crying again, happy tears,” she tells me.

The trio is in New York to promote Irish Wish, a whimsical life-swapping rom-com (out on Netflix March 15) in which Lohan plays a winningly down-on-her-luck book editor. The next day, they’re leaving for Los Angeles. “I have meetings. My husband has meetings. And we’re going to the Vanity Fair Oscar party,” she says. “I haven’t gone in so many years, so it should be nice.”

CELINE by Hedi Slimane dress
1 / 2

Lohan’s appearance — her first in at least a decade — would be one of the Oscars’ biggest headlines. (“It’s giving ‘reclaiming my throne,’” read a much-liked comment on Vanity Fair’s Instagram of Lohan in the Mark Seliger studio.) Staid and shimmering on the red carpet in a silver sequin fringe Balenciaga gown, smiling into the flash on the patio, graciously receiving a whispered something from Kim Kardashian, it was as if she had never stopped acting, moved to Dubai, exited public life. Or like looking at the results of a wishful AI prompt: Lindsay Lohan, healthy, happy, all grown up.

But a few days beforehand, Lohan is nonchalant. “It’ll be like our date night,” she says, adding, “not my husband’s choice of a date night.”

What does Shammas, who works in finance and whom she met at a restaurant in Dubai, think of Lohan’s world?

“He will support me because I’m in it. You know what I mean?” She says she likes to include him in her work because “he’s very intuitive and has a very good understanding of how things are going to work out in the end. He can kind of foresee things. So I like getting his advice on everything and having him be a part of it. I just feel safer.”

It’s as if the peace she’s found abroad, in marriage and motherhood, is what makes her Hollywood re-entry possible. That journey started a decade ago, when she moved from New York to London to star in David Mamet’s Speed-the-Plow in the West End, and she found herself saying “no” to things for the first time. As a child actor, she says, “They teach you to say ‘yes’ to everything, and that’s not really what life’s all about.”

Richard Quinn jumpsuit c/o Albright Fashion Library, Patricia Von Musulin earrings, Sergio Rossi shoes

And Lohan, as prolific a child actor as they come, was plenty good at saying “yes.” Consider the two-year span when a still-teenaged Lohan filmed Freaky Friday, Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, Mean Girls, and Herbie Fully Loaded, as well as recorded two studio albums, hosted the MTV Movie Awards, and appeared on Saturday Night Live three times. “I was recording an album in my trailer on the set of the movie [Herbie] and promoting the album while shooting, like, TRL,” she says of the period that was so frenetic that Lohan could often only fit in an hour or so of rest. “I remember this so specifically: I had to go to the dentist. I had no time to go to the dentist, but something happened with my tooth. The dentist had to come to see me. It was just so much all the time.” She was eventually hospitalized for a kidney infection.

Lohan’s work schedule was probably more punishing than her partying, though the latter was much more interesting to the press. “I feel like some of [my work] got overshadowed by paparazzi and all that kind of stuff when I was younger, and that’s kind of annoying. I wish that part didn’t happen,” Lohan says. “I feel like that kind of took on a life of its own. So that’s why I wanted to disappear. I was like, ‘Unless there’s no story here, they’re not going to focus on just my work.’”

From the outside, disappearing to Dubai looked like a strategic choice. A place with lucrative business opportunities, a ban on paparazzi, and strict regulations on the substances Lohan struggled with at the height of her fame. But to hear it from Lohan, she stopped working and expatriated in search of the most essential human experience: “I was like, ‘What if I never fall in love? What if this never happens? And it took me just taking time for me for all those doors to open and the ‘yeses’ to come — the things I wanted to say 'yes' to.”

Partnership was something she craved, as was motherhood. “I’ve always been close with my younger siblings, and I’ve always had a very maternal instinct,” says the hands-on eldest of four. “The parents kind of give that [responsibility] to [oldest children], too.”

Today, her sister, model-musician Aliana Lohan, is in the adjoining hotel bedroom, along with Lohan’s longtime publicist. The younger Lohan chimes in from time to time, about quarantining in Dubai together (“We looked at each other and we were like, ‘OK, this is it. We don’t want to be stuck with anyone else”) and how she feels about her brother in law (“I love you, always forever,” she sings).

Still, motherhood has changed Lohan in ways that no abundance of older-sister energy could’ve prepared her for. Like how proud she is of her body, and how little pressure she feels to “snap back.” “Everyone’s getting so thin now. I feel like everything always comes full circle again, so this is that moment, and this, too, shall pass. But it does seem like there’s pressure,” she says, referring to the Ozempic era. Yet Lohan — whose own struggles with body image became nearly emblematic of the early 2000s size 0 obsession — is gladly observing this moment from the sidelines. “I was so attached to [Luai] that my last thought was going on a treadmill. I feel like we put so much pressure on ourselves to have to look ‘good’ so soon, but you look so beautiful [postpartum]. Give yourself time.”

These are the types of zen, earnest proclamations Lohan is prone to making now. She seems to have shed the spiky, sarcastic demeanor that served as her shield while navigating a not-so-forgiving Hollywood, whether she was joking about being on probation in a Funny or Die video or schooling David Letterman when he ridiculed her on air. (“We didn’t discuss this in the pre-interview,” she deadpans when the talk show host grills her about going to rehab.)

Today, she tells me she carefully curates what she is exposed to. Online, she avoids fashion: “My stuff is positive manifestations and baby foods.” She likes to be surrounded by “positive people”: “People, places and things I’m a big believer in, and that definitely has shaped more of who I am today.”

The Attico dress, Nicole Rose earrings, Aquazzura shoes
1 / 3

Already, there are signs of how intentionally Lohan is approaching Hollywood this time around. For one thing, she isn’t committing to living there. “We’re probably going to start to spend more time here [in the United States],” she says. But as for where the family’s home base will be, “We’re not sure yet. We’re still deciding. We’re looking now.”

My story isn't finished yet, so I’m not in a rush to share my side of it.

Her approach to shooting Irish Wish is telling too. She was accompanied by Shammas, who is credited as an executive producer, and she encouraged her close friend Ayesha Curry to audition for the film. The two women have been tight for more than three years now, and Lohan named Curry and her husband, Steph, as Luai’s godparents. Curry tells me, “We were out visiting in Dubai last summer, and we went to dinner, and she leaned over and was like, ‘I have something to ask you!’ Then she asked and it was so sweet. [It was] very unexpected, but we were definitely up for the task.”

According to Curry, Lohan served as social chair during the Irish Wish shoot. “We both love to cook, and she made a mean borscht when we were in Ireland. [We’d also watch] paranormal-activity documentaries,” she says.

Lohan also took on a producer role. “She’s very involved with structuring the image for the film,” Netflix’s director of original film, Christina Rogers, tells me. “She meets with our directors and helps make that decision; she has a lot of input in her wardrobe and how she presents [the film] on social media.” The result is a feast of tartan plaids, Aran sweaters, chintz wallpapers, and antique cars that would be at home in a Nancy Meyers movie. Lohan remains a fan of the director: “[Her movies] are so clean, beautifully shot, and set dressed. She’s fantastic,” she says.

Versace dress, Van Cleef & Arpels jewelry, Giuseppe Zanotti shoes

Still, Hollywood has changed since Lohan left. “Social media is so different now than when I was younger, that everyone has control of their own story,” says Lohan, whose life was documented by the paparazzi, not her own Instagram. The way the press talks about young women is different too: less cruel and less superficial. But, Lohan says, “I don’t really pay attention to that. I don’t really read stuff that comes out either. ’Cause I know how it works, so there’s no point. And if you immerse yourself in that stuff, you’re just going to get lost, and it can just do so much to you.”

While many of Lohan’s peers — including her similarly targeted contemporaries Britney Spears and Paris Hilton — have started to reclaim the stories of the aughts in memoir and documentary, Lohan isn’t ready. “I congratulate all the people that [have done that]. I think it’s good that they do what they want to take their power back,” she says. “When I’m ready and I accomplish all of the things I want to accomplish, then I’ll maybe consider doing it. But my story isn’t finished yet, so I’m not in a rush to share my side of it.”

When she does eventually write her book, she says, she has duffel bags full of notebooks. On a recent trip to Dubai, Aliana brought Lohan one. Reading through it, Lohan found her voice nearly unrecognizable. “I used to just write about everything. No one was off-limits, and I did not hold back,” she says. (Lohan, age 9 or 10, wrote of a 2-year-old Aliana: “I love her, but she’s such a wild beast when she wants to be.”) She also wrote a screenplay for a TV series called The Gold Coast about “girls in school on Long Island,” where she grew up, when she was around 8 years old.

These days, she says, she mostly journals for Luai, leaving notes for him about the trips the family has been on. “I don’t need that outlet as much,” she says. “Maybe that’s why I’ve slowed down.”

Blumarine clothing, Falke tights, Van Cleef & Arpels jewelry, talent’s own ring, Larroude x Altuzarra shoes

Lohan’s shorter-term ambitions will please those who fell in love with her as a comedic everygirl. She is gearing up to bring another of her cult-classic films, Freaky Friday, back to the screen. (“I can’t say much, but we are going to be doing it. I hope it’s sooner than later,” she says, getting up to find a wooden object to knock on.) “I would love, love, love to do a movie with Adam Sandler,” she adds. Joining SNL’s Five-Timers Club, an honor she’s one episode shy of, also comes to mind. “I’m so close to that robe!”

Though she might have trepidation about a full-time relocation to Los Angeles, Lohan — who played Elizabeth Taylor in a Lifetime movie — has as much reverence for Old Hollywood as ever. Lately, she finds herself returning to her old obsessions, like silent film star Clara Bow (“Karl Lagerfeld told me to play Clara Bow”), and Ann-Margret Olsson, perhaps the original redhead queen of the romcom. “I really want to play Ann-Margret, and we’re trying to find a writer for that story,” she tells me. “She’s a triple threat, and she’s an amazing woman on top of that. So I just really want to do her justice and help tell a great story for her.”

She urges me to watch Kitten With a Whip, in which Ann-Margret plays “this girl who breaks out of a mental institution and breaks into this man’s house who’s running for senator, and starts inviting all her friends over and tells him she’s not leaving and basically holds him hostage in his own home.”

Suddenly, I can’t remember: Is Lohan also a superfan of Marilyn Monroe, or did people just love dressing her up as an icon of tragic beauty?

“I know. I think that. I love Marilyn, but I’m more Ann-Margret.” She chalks this self-knowledge up to the distance she has from Hollywood now. “You have to stay true to yourself and what you love,” she says. “It’s so easy to get lost in other things and everything that’s new. You become less interesting, and things just become less interesting.”

Top Image Credits: Richard Quinn jumpsuit, Gucci sunglasses c/o New York Vintage

Photographs by Tom Munro

1st Photo Assistant: Ivory Serra

2nd Photo Assistant: Joseph Pluchino

Digital Tech: Kevin Lavallade

Styling by Jan-Michael Quammie

Fashion Assistant: Ashirah Curry

Set Designer: Annika Rose Fischer

Set Assistant: Joe Parra

Hair: Danielle Priano

Makeup: Kristofer Buckle

Manicure: Elle Gerstein

Tailor: Jen Hebner at Carol Ai Studio Tailors

Talent Bookings: Special Projects

Video: Devin O’Neill, Gabe Harden

Associate Creative Director, Video: Samuel Schultz

Production Assistant: Xin Xin

Photo Director: Alex Pollack

Editor in Chief: Charlotte Owen

SVP Fashion: Tiffany Reid

SVP Creative: Karen Hibbert