It may seem long, long ago, but it was just 1998 when 11-year-old Lindsay Lohan — adorable and freckle-faced — made her movie debut in Disney's remake of The Parent Trap.
Lohan continued with promising comedic turns in Freaky Friday and Mean Girls. Then her career started to veer off track, along with her personal life.
After a string of arrests and stints in rehab, Lohan seems to be another sorry story lumped in with other girls gone wild.
But Lohan is not Paris Hilton. Legendary director Robert Altman cast her along with Meryl Streep in his final film, A Prairie Home Companion.
Veteran talent manager Bernie Brillstein thinks Lohan is a real talent and potentially a major star.
"I don't think she's a fake, I don't think she's a celebrity," he says. "I think she's an actress who's gone wrong."
Critic David Thomson agrees:
"She has an energy and a gutsiness and a direct link to the camera that I think is more than the other people you might compare her with," Thomson says.
Thomson says Lohan seems to be suffering from troubles that often afflict child actors who have enjoyed early success.
"Most of them lost it," he says. "Most of them were terribly stranded. And it may be that she's beginning to wonder if she's terribly stranded, and doesn't care a damn, and is going to go down blazing."
Thomson thinks Lohan could make the transition into adult stardom, if she gets sober.
Brillstein knows that's hard for anyone but especially for a wealthy actor.
He's tried — and failed — to convey the gravity of the situation to some of his own clients, notably John Belushi.
"It's not only hard, it's impossible 'til they understand," he says. "And who knows if they're ever going to understand."
Brillstein wonders whether anyone around Lohan will tell her to take the time she needs to get sober. Her parents appear to be unlikely candidates. Lohan's father was released from prison in March. Her mother seems to enjoy the club scene almost as much as her famous daughter.
"With her family the way it is, and with her making as much money as she does, who's going to tell her 'cool it, or you'll die?,'" Brillstein asks.
Brillstein says with her talent and drive, Lohan still could turn her career around. Even in her latest mug shot, he observes, Lohan looks beautiful.