If Lindsay Lohan had been playing herself onscreen, she might have won an Oscar for her portrayal of a rising star battling a crippling alcohol addiction.
But she's not acting right now, and she may not be acting for a while.
In real life, Lohan was charged Tuesday morning with driving under the influence and felony drug possession. The latest arrest came less than two weeks after she checked out of a rehab facility. It was the second incident in less than two months in which California police investigated Lohan for DUI.
In the short term, Hollywood insiders said the charges will put the brakes on the 21-year-old's acting career. Hollywood publicist Michael Levine predicts the starlet will be unemployable until she proves she can stay clean, sober and free of charges.
"For the next 18 months, no way. No deal. This makes Paris Hilton's problems look minimal," he said. "She's got to get herself in the hands of some very serious rehabilitation specialists for a long period of time. If she's able to make a statement where she accepts responsibility and does whatever it takes to get well, that would be preferable."
Lohan's string of arrests and antics -- she was seen club-hopping in Las Vegas shortly after leaving rehab -- won't likely sit well with any major studio heads. Securing insurance, a necessary and costly step for making any movie, could be all but impossible if Lohan is involved in the project.
"Say you're going to make a $5 million movie, and you're hiring Lindsay Lohan as the lead. Right away, you have insurance should she fall, break a leg or get injured. But to know that she has this history -- what insurance company is going to want to hop onboard?" said the owner of an Los Angeles talent agency who asked to remain anonymous. "What if she doesn't come to work for three days, and you have to pay $300,000 to keep the set going?"
A Long, Sober Road Ahead
Producers may have been asking themselves that question last week when they reportedly pulled Lohan out of "Poor Things," an independent film she was scheduled to begin shooting after her stint in rehab.
And if Lohan wants to keep acting while she repairs her image, she might consider cutting her considerable salary -- a reported $7.5 million for 2005's "Herbie: Fully Loaded."
"Generally speaking, for actors with insurability problems … what we'll do is structure a program where there's a very big carrot for doing the right thing," said Brian Kingman, an Aon/Albert G. Ruben broker who specializes in insuring films. "The actor's got to defer their salary; they'll only get paid if they complete, so that's their incentive. Of course some of them get paid a lot already, so that that doesn't really matter."
While Lohan will have to work to gain back the respect of the industry, it's possible that years from now the DUI arrests could be a mere footnote in her career. For as long as Hollywood has put out movies, stars have fallen from grace. And as Levine pointed out, if there's one thing the industry and celebrity-watching public loves, it's a comeback.
"I think Robert Downey Jr. might well be an example of that," he said, referring to the actor's resurgence after a highly publicized battle with drugs in the '90s. "In the long term, anything's possible."
But before Lohan can rise again, she'll have to clean up. Even if she can create a media frenzy with the drop of an alcohol-monitoring ankle bracelet, it's unlikely any studio will want to give her a role at the risk of losing a movie.
"Filmmakers put up millions and millions of dollars on a movie, studios put up hundreds of millions of dollars, and it requires everybody's professionalism," Kingman said. "When somebody isn't professional, that gives insurers concerns. Whether its health or lifestyle issues, those need to be addressed."