Young Lindsay Lohan: Looking Back at 'The Parent Trap' Premiere

2012-16 ENDPG Natasha Richardson Lindsay Lohan Dennis Quaid P

Lohan with co-stars Natasha Richardson and Dennis Quaid at the Westwood premiere of The Parent Trap in 1998. Her advice that day to other child actors: "Just relax and, like, keep calm."

The actress, just 12 years old in the 1998 comedy, is slated to play Elizabeth Taylor in Lifetime's "Liz & Dick."

This article first appeared in the May 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter.

Are you quite a tricksy girl?" a reporter asked 12-year-old Lindsay Lohan at the Los Angeles premiere of The Parent Trap on July 20, 1998. "When I need to be," answered Lohan, whose breakout performance tricked viewers into buying her as identical twins, one American, one British, separated at birth. The film launched Lohan's career -- the former child model left her Another World soap opera gig for the part -- as well as that of director Nancy Meyers. Parent Trap producer Charles Shyer, who shared an Oscar writing nom with then-wife Meyers for Private Benjamin, was sold on Lohan 30 seconds into her screen test. "This one is going to be impossible to beat," he told Meyers.

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At the first preview, "Disney head Michael Eisner said, 'Those two girls are brilliant!' " says Shyer. "He thought it was two different girls." (Eisner, who read three drafts of the script and saw the 1961 Hayley Mills original, denies this via a rep.) But Eisner did find the Long Islander convincing, as did THR's reviewer, who wrote, "Lohan is a major find … Mills would likely approve."

The exhausted tween fell asleep during the premiere of the film, which went on to gross $66 million. And her career, which would peak with 2004's Mean Girls, fell asleep at the wheel after a 2007 DUI bust. Her potential comeback might be with another Brit impersonation -- in Lifetime's upcoming Liz & Dick. "Elizabeth Taylor was a child star who evolved into a great actress," says Shyer. "One hopes Lindsay has the same trajectory. She has the chops. She's not like these reality TV show people."