Paul Schrader has Lindsay Lohan's back. The acclaimed director worked with the actress, now 27 and spending her summer in rehab, on the sexually explicit film The Canyons. Although Schrader's epic struggle on set with Lohan was documented in a talked-about New York Times piece in January, he writes in a Film Comment essay that Lohan has remarkable similarities, good and bad, with another perennially troubled actress: Marilyn Monroe.
"Similarities? 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 explores the "LiLo phenomenon" in his piece.
Observes the filmmaker of Lohan and Monroe: "[They both] exist in the space between actors and celebrities, people whose professional and personal performances are more or less indistinguishable. Entertainers understand the distinction."
A tabloid magnet just like Lohan, Monroe struggled with depression, an unhappy love life and drug abuse for much of her life, and died at age 36 of a drug overdose in 1962. Advises Schrader: "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 sense that the actress is not performing, that we are watching life itself. We call them 'troubled,' 'tormented,' 'train wrecks' but we can't turn away. We can't stop watching."
Schrader even suggests that Lohan "has more natural acting talent" than the screen icon. "Like Monroe, her weakness is her inability to fake it. She feels she must be experiencing an emotion in order to play it. This leads to all sorts of emotional turmoil, not to mention on-set delays and melodrama. It also leads, when the gods smile, to movie magic."