BEVERLY HILLS, California — Under the intense spotlight of talk shows, tabloids and public trials, Lindsay Lohan has grown up considerably over the past few years. Now, thanks to a series of high-profile projects, her onscreen persona is finally prepared to catch up.

"I just think the people involved in [my upcoming films] are great, and I believe in the characters," Lohan said last week, offering a preview of the movies that will move her beyond such teenage tales as "Freaky Friday" and "Herbie: Fully Loaded." Referring to the loyal teen audience she hopes will come along for the ride, she added: "It's important in my position to bring an understanding to females, and young girls in general, that if they believe in something, [they should] follow through with it."

So, with the belief that it's time to grow up, Lindsay follows through this summer with the flicks "Just My Luck" (a comedy that shows her as a hard-partying, hook-up-heavy publicist) and "A Prairie Home Companion" (directed by the legendary Robert Altman and based on a long-running radio program). After that, the real transformation comes via an unusual pairing of assassination dramas.

"Chapter 27" will be the first feature film made about the events surrounding John Lennon's 1980 murder (see "Lindsay Lohan, Jared Leto Teaming Up For John Lennon Film"). Directed by first-time filmmaker Jarrett Schaeffer, the controversial flick follows Beatles-obsessed assassin Mark David Chapman (played by Jared Leto) in the days leading up to the shooting.

Lohan's character is based on a real-life groupie, she said. "We took photos from a woman named Jude, and she's a huge John Lennon fan. She met John Lennon and she was completely devoted to standing outside of the Dakota (the property where Lennon was shot) every day. She would run errands for him and Yoko," Lohan explained. "I'm the positive light in the film, I like to call it. She's just an honest, great groupie in her own way. She met Mark David Chapman a few days prior to him assassinating John Lennon."

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Going further back in time to indulge her History Channel fascination, another project sees Lohan playing a peripheral character in the 1968 murder of a man who nearly became president. "In 'Bobby,' my character is more of a female activist in her own way," the actress said of the star-studded Robert F. Kennedy drama, which drops her into a cast including Anthony Hopkins, Demi Moore, Nick Cannon and Helen Hunt.

"It's nice, because Sharon Stone and I have this kind of friendship in the movie, where her character is much more square than mine is. This [character] is based on a real character as well, who Emilio Estevez met prior to writing the script and interviewed several times."

Filmed at the Ambassador Hotel — the site of Kennedy's murder — in Los Angeles, just months before it was torn down, the movie has the redheaded actress also sharing scenes with Elijah Wood (see "Lindsay Lohan Falls For Elijah Wood In 'Bobby' "). "[My character] married several men so that they wouldn't have to go to Vietnam. I actually said that once, and people started laughing at me. I was like: 'It's true! She really did this.' It was only four men," Lohan said gravely, before realizing how it sounded. "I'm not saying that [it's OK] she married [four men].

"It was for a good cause," she giggled. "And that was completely appropriate and acceptable for women of that time."

Now that she's done looking back at events that preceded her birth, Lohan is beginning production on the Garry Marshall-directed drama "Georgia Rules" as a molested girl keeping her secret from a fractured family (including heavy-hitting actresses Jane Fonda and Felicity Huffman).

After that, other possibilities include "Bill" (a dark comedy with Aaron Eckhart) and "The Guided Man" (based loosely on the classic play "Cyrano de Bergerac," alongside Adrien Brody). Or, she cautiously confessed, she may try her first action film.

The people behind the upcoming big-screen adaptation of the Japanese manga series "Sailor Moon" have sent her some materials to look at, she said, and fans have begun lobbying hard for Lohan to play the titular character, a rail-thin blonde known for her strong powers and sexy costumes.

"I read that [online] the other day," Lohan said of her supposed "Sailor" casting. "I haven't read the script; I don't even know if there is a script. ... I read a lot of things [online] that I don't know about myself that apparently people think are true."

One thing that is true: Lohan currently sports a glaring ankle wrap, as she nurses a wound that resulted from a recent slip in the shower. "It's so me to do that," she said, "because while I was filming ['Just My Luck'], I sprained my right ankle on the set, and now it's my left one, and [the right one] still hasn't healed.

"I literally said, 'Just my luck,' " she laughed, remembering the accident. "And my friend said, 'That's really ironic,' and I was like, 'I didn't even think of it!' "

In many ways, the 19-year-old Lohan is growing up rapidly; in others, it seems she isn't quite ready to stand on her own two feet just yet.

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