According to Paul Schrader, directing Lindsay Lohan in a film is everything you might expect it to be--and then some.
"Tardiness, unpredictability, tantrums, absences, neediness, psychodrama--yes, all that, but something more, that thing that keeps you watching someone on screen, that thing you can't take your eyes off of, that magic, that mystery," writes Schrader, who directed Lohan in "The Canyons," in the latest issue of Film Comment.
He compares Lohan, who celebrated her 27th birthday in rehab a week ago, to iconic (and iconically troubled) star Marilyn Monroe, whom Lohan herself has said she identifies with.
Schrader notes how that now infamous New York Times Magazine article about The Canyons' tumultuous production was headlined (in print, not online) "The Misfits," the title of what turned out to be Monroe's last completed film.
"Monroe and Lohan exist in the space between actors and celebrities, people whose professional and personal performances are more or less indistinguishable," Schrader writes. "Entertainers understand the distinction. To be successful, a performer controls the balance between the professional and personal, that is, he or she makes it seem like the professional is personal. It is the lack of this control that gives performers like Monroe and Lohan (and others) their unique attraction...We call them 'troubled,' 'tormented,' 'train wrecks'--but we can't turn away."
Prior to "The Canyons," Lohan played Elizabeth Taylor in the widely panned, so-bad-it's-awesome Lifetime biopic Liz &Dick.
"I'm sure Paul Schrader and I could compare some interesting stories on making a movie with Lindsay Lohan, but I'm not so sure we should compare them in the press," Liz &Dick producer Larry Thompson told E! News in January after the Times piece came out.
But Schrader insists that, despite the horror stories that were true, "LL is not MM."
"LL lives in a world of instant celebrity gratification Monroe could have only dreamed of," he writes. "Paid for public appearances, paid to wear clothes, paid to pose, paid for gossip tips, paid for tweets. These rewards are available without the pretense of responsibility. On the other hand, there's no system to protect today's celebrities from the media or the courts or themselves."
He doesn't say whether he would work with Lohan again, but he doesn't seem to regret the one time at least.
"From a selfish point of view, from a director's point of view, that is, from my point of view, it was a treat to work with Lindsay," Schrader concludes. "All the drama, the mishegas, all the stress--that means little. A director can shoot around misbehavior. He can't shoot around lack of charisma. I just wish it was easier for Lindsay."
Select city dwellers and cable subscribers will be able to judge the finished product for themselves when "The Canyons" opens in New York on Aug. 2 and Los Angeles on Aug. 9, while simultaneously becoming available On Demand.