But Lohan says she's less interested in her earning potential than she is in finding a real actor's piece, like the movies that go to Kirsten Dunst and Natalie Portman. ''But we can't push it too over the edge,'' she says. Her agents are urging her to sink her teeth into a riskier role, but Dina is wary: ''I have always said that with the Julia Roberts and Meg Ryans, you don't want to see them in really dark material.'' Lindsay was circling a script called Margaret, about a high school student who has an affair with her African-American teacher and gets an abortion, but it's a no-go, unless the writers cut some of the controversial material. Her agents also sent her a treatment about Deep Throat porn star Linda Lovelace. Close your mouths, boys it's on the back burner.
What the girl really wants is to work with directors like Cameron Crowe or Steven Spielberg, but first she has an album to promote. Mottola's team has her booked on MTV's TRL, Ellen, and MTV's New Year's Eve broadcast. (Alas, a mini-uproar would erupt when she was accused of lip-synching on the Dec. 6 Good Morning America. A label rep confirmed the use of guide vocals but insisted that Lohan ''sang 100 percent live.'')
But now, Lohan is taping a Sessions@AOL set at Manhattan's Hit Factory with her band. While she sings, dancing around in her jeans and sparkly top, her 10-year-old sister, Ali, rests her chin in her hands, dreaming of what she could be when she grows up. Which in her sister's case was when she turned 11 and starred in her first movie. Director Nancy Meyers cast the then-freckle-faced unknown in the 1998 Disney remake of The Parent Trap. ''Lindsay has a good head on her shoulders,'' she says. ''Even when she was 11, she was focused, centered, and real. Supertalented, and she's funny. Who knows how any of us would be at 18 years old making lots of money and being a movie star and living that life? Who knows?''
(This is an online-only excerpt of Entertainment Weekly's Dec. 17, 2004, cover story.)