Lindsay Lohan for “Herbie: Fully Loaded”

Lindsay Lohan may be having a rough year, but it didn’t show. Her raspy voice was less audible than usual, because, as she puts it,”I was screaming my head off at the MTV Awards”. Now with blonde hair, the popular actress, flanked by a bodyguard, it is clear that times have changed for the young actress, since the last time we met for the release of Mean Girls. But when you are being hounded by aggressive paparazzi, the star of the new Herbie comedy’s perspective changes.

Still shaken from the incident, Lohan recalls how terrified she was, when she was literally closed off by pursuing photographers. “I had my friend in the car and it happened so fast, not really believe it actually happened,” Lohan now recalls, while promoting Herbie: Fully Loaded, in Los Angeles. “I couldn’t get out the side door, which had jammed shut, and I knew a story of someone that was close to one of my family members that passed away in their car, because someone hit their door and then they couldn’t get out of it. So all I could think at that moment was, ‘I can’t get outta my door, I’m gonna die in this car, my door’s jammed!’. Then my friend, who had just whacked her head on the window was panicking because she couldn’t find the unlock switch, so what was going on was incredible. Then I got out of the car and they continued to take my picture. I said, ‘What are you doing? Did you not just…’ I was in shock and did not know what to do, but thank God no one was seriously injured. I still have to go to the doctor.”

That incident notwithstanding, Lohan says that, for the most part, she responds to her new found fame and so-called notoriety with a sense of humour, not necessarily avoiding what the tabloids write about her. “If it’s there I read it”, she laughingly admits, adding that if she sees her face on one of the numerous supermarket tabloids, “I grab it!” Lohan denies that she is the party girl claimed by such magazines, when asked what it is she wants her fans to really know about her that is more fact than fiction. “I’m a very honest person and, I feel like I’m very sincere and I don’t take anything for granted. I feel blessed, lucky, appreciative and I’m thankful, not some crazy Tara-Reid-esque party animal,” she adds, laughingly. “I wanna be in this for the long run.”

Professionally, then, Lohan has a measured career, alternating between last year’s darker Mean Girls hit comedy, to her third go round in a Disney remake, this time, stepping behind the wheel of Herbie the Love Bug in Herbie: Fully Loaded. Asked why the decision to star in the remake of another Disney comedy, the actress is very matter-of-fact. “I feel very safe doing Disney at this point, who have been really good to me,” explains the actress. In this latest Herbie adventure, Lohan stars as Maggie Peyton, the new owner of Number 53 – that free-wheelin’ Volkswagen bug with a mind of its own – and puts the car through its paces on the road to becoming a NASCAR competitor. At the same time, Herbie’s got some new tricks under his hood. “I really felt like the character in this movie has a good message, which is very empowering for women, because NASCAR is a male dominated sport Now with Danica Patrick coming out, it’s perfect timing,” adds Lohan. The actress also saw some personal parallels between herself and the character, “in the sense that she is growing into womanhood, kind of going out on her own now, is discovering what she wants to do in life and kind of following through with that.”

And Lohan says she wants to prove that she can step beyond her teen image. “I think everyone looks for that role where it’s a stretch, and you can kind of be a bit edgier and push the envelope a little bit”. No wonder she is excited by her next project, Robert Altman’s A Prairie Home Companion. “it’s going to be like an acting class for me just being there, which will be nice just to be around them,” she says, referring to her fellow cast members, which include the likes of Meryl Streep, Lily Tomlin and Kevin Kline. Lohan is also involved with her music, and has a single coming out that can be heard throughout Herbie’s closing credits, “and I just did the video, recently, which was fun to do and Herbie’s in it,” she adds, laughing once again.

The actress doesn’t see herself focusing one over the other, however. “Acting is mainly what I focus on, but, at the same time, I love singing as well. I’ll probably be starting another album eventually, but my first album was rushed. I mean I recorded practically every song in my trailer on the set of Herbie,” explaining why it is she became so ill at the time. “I was running myself down, literally running from set in between set-ups and singing.” The result was such exhaustion, that Lohan was hospitalised. The actress hopes to take a break following the release of her album. “I think, after the Altman film, um, I’ll probably be in Europe for a bit but, ah… then I’ll take a break until I start working on press for Just My Luck.” Lohan says that whenever those brief down periods come her way, the teenager just wants to sit back and enjoy her life. “I’ll have to sit down and take the time. I also wanna get involved in starting a charity. So, we’ll see, I don’t want to jinx anything.”

Despite the craziness in her life, Lindsay says that it is the people around her and her family, who continue to keep her grounded, “because I have friends that would say something if I was out of line in any way: ‘Lindsay, cool it!’ But, you know, I watch people, I just sit there and kind of observe what’s going on around me and see if other people have changed. I know what that looks like and I don’t want to be that kind of person. It’s bad karma.”