“It’s not too personal , because those memories are all over the internet,” Lindsay Lohan says, tearing up as she reflects on a highly publicized incident of alleged domestic abuse she suffered on the beaches of Mykonos, Greece — where she intends to launch her career comeback with the MTV reality series Lindsay Lohan’s Beach Club — in July 2016. “The last thing I was going to do was keep that memory [and] not make something better of it; so that’s why I decided to take over the beach.”
But for Lohan — former teen star of early-2000s Hollywood hits like Mean Girls, Freaky Friday, and Herbie: Fully Loaded, whose shine was overshadowed by headlines chronicling her hard-partying lifestyle, legal troubles, and struggles with substance abuse — the very definition of “personal” has always been in flux.
“Do you think there are preconceived notions of me?” Lohan asks with a laugh, one that’s laced with well-warranted exasperation. “[Even] if I do everything right, they have to find one thing to make everything negative to some extent. I just want to know what people want me to do so that everything can just be okay. I don’t know if that’s ever going to be possible.”
So, as she readies her move to mainstream television, the question of who Lohan is to herself, and to the public, remains: Is she still the wide-eyed starlet who cast a spell on a generation by playing fictional characters on screen, or will her identity forever be defined by the fame monster that ultimately made her a tabloid staple?
The point of Lindsay Lohan’s Beach Club, it seems, is that whatever the answer may be (or once was) is irrelevant to Lohan’s latest venture. Now, the 32-year-old is liberating herself from the toxic ties that once bound her to sensational media coverage at the helm of the new docu-series, which chronicles the actress and entrepreneur’s budding nightlife empire built atop the same Grecian sands that once brought her past trauma to a head.
“I’m the boss,” Lohan explains of her new role: manager of the posh seaside retreat Lohan Beach House, which she runs with the help of her a sassy, business-savvy sidekick named Panos and eight brand ambassadors who specialize in high-end hospitality — some of whom Lohan mentors, while others cross the boss and are on the next flight home.
“You take a bunch of kids [to] this party place and they just want to run around. They forget they have a job the next day,” says Lohan, who admits she moved overseas to find the “solace and silence” required to lead an empire free from the frenzy surrounding her public missteps. “I was able to watch as an overseer and really understand. Was I ever like that? Maybe. But this can’t happen now.… Work is work, and I don’t want any mucking about.”
While she’s tough on business, Lohan says she’s the sensitive balance to Panos’ domineering charge, urging her employees to rest up with a good night’s sleep and clean their rooms so they can come to work with a clear head.
“If I hadn’t experienced everything I have in life beforehand… I don’t think I’d be able to relate to them as much,” she explains. “It was a blessing that I was able to. These girls had some real issues, and it was really interesting to have them work through it. It was like therapy for them.”
But it’s clear the project provided a much needed mental reset for her, too.
“My entire life has been in the public eye. So, people will see that this is something really important to me, and I don’t want anyone coming between that,” she says, later referencing her experience filming her divisive Lindsay reality series for the Oprah Winfrey Network, which she claims depicted a highly dramatized version (“people were fed lines,” she claims) of a particularly difficult moment in her life as she was coming out of treatment for addiction, while Beach Club serves as its antithesis. “Mykonos consists of a population of 10,000 people all year round. So, it’s much easier for me to do things in a place where there are literally three paparazzi, and I’ve known them all for the past seven years. It’s much easier for me to be in control of the situation so everything that I want to happen will happen when it’s meant to happen.”
Lohan’s instincts have thus far proven fruitful, as she’s currently running three clubs, with plans to expand to more venues, including hotels and potentially an entire Island in Dubai. She’s also developing two feature films: Frame, about an unhappily married woman whose separation leads her to an eye-opening photography class in Saudi Arabia, and The Honeymoon, a psychological thriller based on Tina Seskis’ book of the same name.
It all adds up to a taxing hybrid venture which the potential success of Beach Club stands to jump-start — one that ultimately prevented Lohan from stepping back into the shoes of Casey Stuart, one of her most beloved characters to date, in Disney’s Tyra Banks-produced Life-Size sequel, which premiered in December on Freeform. But Lohan doesn’t necessarily see her absence as an opportunity missed.
“I’m just on a different path right now, and I have so many things on my plate that I don’t want to go backwards and put everything else back on my plate. I’m happy where I am,” she admits, adding that Banks (whom she will “support and love forever”) attempted to court her for an on-camera part in the made-for-TV movie about a young girl who brings a Barbie-like doll to life, but her busy schedule wouldn’t allow it. “I was [thinking], ‘I can’t possibly go to the opening of [the club in] Rhodes, fly back to meet with the crew for the show, open the club, and then go to America [to film Life-Size 2].’ It just wouldn’t have worked out.… It’s unfortunate, but I know myself now. I’d be too tired.
“This,” Lohan says of the new Lindsay taking the stage on the impending Beach Club premiere, “is me as I am as a person now.”
She adds, “I’m tired of hearing about my past. It used to be ‘More people! More noise! Distract me!’ But now it’s ‘Shhh!’ Taking time for [me] is important. I learned that the hard way, unfortunately. But I did. And I want to share that with other people.”
Lindsay Lohan’s Beach Club premieres Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on MTV, while Lindsay Lohan’s Beach Club: After the Show — featuring Lohan and her Mean Girls costar Jonathan Bennett — will air immediately after the episode. Watch EW’s interview with Lohan above.
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