Lindsay Lohan Post-Rehab: Lessons From Her Early Years

With the actress leaving treatment and returning to the limelight, MTV News reflects on her career highlights and what she can learn from them.

After three months of court-mandated treatment, actress Lindsay Lohan was released from a rehab facility on Tuesday, reportedly headed for a stay with a sober coach. But the 27-year-old won’t be avoiding the limelight for long.

Lohan’s buzzy film “The Canyons,” directed by Paul Schrader and co-starring porn actor James Deen, opens Friday (August 2), and as a bit of publicity, Lohan will fill in as host of Chelsea Handler’s late-night E! talk show “Chelsea Lately” on Monday. Then there’s the eight-episode docu-series for Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network slated for 2014, which will be preceded by a sit-down with the veteran host, airing in August.

To be sure, it’s a pivotal moment for the troubled actress, who has another opportunity to start anew after a trying few years. And if she’s looking for advice on how to proceed, she need look no further than her own career, which has boasted its fair share of highlights. Here, five moments that hit the mark and the lessons Lohan can use going forward:

“The Parent Trap”
Lohan made her big-screen debut in this Disney remake of the classic 1961 film, and audiences were smitten with the cute, bubbly redhead they met on screen. It may have helped that there was twice as much to love as she played twins.

The Lesson: Family fare is a safe zone. Provocative content will get you headlines, sure, but not necessarily the kind you want. A heartfelt project in the vein of “The Parent Trap” could go a long way toward rehabbing your image and would also prove that you’re serious about changing — without getting too serious (another point we’ll address below…).

Photos: Lindsay Lohan’s Early Career.

“Mean Girls”
Nearly a decade later, Lohan’s turn as high-schooler Cady Heron in the teen comedy “Mean Girls” is still her most indelible (and infinitely quotable).

The Lesson: Ensembles offer a safety net. Lohan may have been the star of the 2004 film, serving up a strong performance of her own, but she was no doubt buoyed by the efforts of co-stars Rachel McAdams, Amanda Seyfried and Lacey Chabert. There’s no shame in getting by with a little help from your friends to avoid shouldering the entire weight (and accompanying stress) on your own. (Oh, also Lindsay, don’t forget we wear pink on Wednesdays…)

“Saturday Night Live”
The actress’ most recent turn on the NBC sketch show wasn’t exactly lauded by critics, but that’s no reason to get all serious. Let’s not forget Lohan’s uproarious debut appearance in 2004, which garnered laugh-out-loud moments like “Hogwarts Academy,” featuring Lohan as a silly, sexy Hermione Granger, and the first-ever “Debbie Downer” skit, in which Lohan and her co-stars broke to hilarious effect.

The Lesson: Flaunt those comedic chops (another lesson from “Mean Girls,” too). Dramatic projects like “Liz and Dick” aren’t where you should be exerting your energy. Play to your strengths by doing something light-hearted and fun.

2010 Video Music Awards
Lohan made a cheeky appearance in a pre-taped bit for the 2010 Video Music Awards, giving host Chelsea Handler some useful advice. “Do you think anyone wants to work with a drunk?” she asked in a bit of self-deprecating humor. “Take it from me, they don’t … Have a great show. Don’t embarrass me.”

The Lesson: Don’t be afraid to poke fun at yourself — in moderation. Acknowledging you’ve made mistakes in the past is the first step toward moving forward, and we have a feeling that when Lohan hosts “Chelsea Lately” next week, we’ll see some of this. Just don’t take it too far, Lindsay. We’ve all been following the news. We know.

Pop Star
Remember when Lohan was a pop star in the mid-aughts? When she went platinum with Speak? And then gold with A Little More Personal (Raw)? Though most know Lohan primarily as an actress, she’s certainly found success as a singer too.

The Lesson: Brush off those pipes. Perhaps you could follow in the footsteps of another once-troubled starlet by the name of Britney Spears and add your voice to a movie soundtrack (a la “Ooh La La” from “Smurfs 2″)? It doesn’t have to be a cartoon, of course, but something in the family-friendly genre (remember lesson #1?) could add infuse a bit of squeaky into your clean and open another avenue for self-expression.