Lindsay Lohan's Early Years: The Career Before The Storm

We take a look back at LiLo's career highlights, before critical duds and a criminal record took over.

Let's take a moment to forget about all the bad Lindsay Lohan-related entertainment news these days -- namely, the troubled actress' latest arrest and disappointing resurgence in the headlines after a bar fight -- to focus on a simpler, happier time.

There was a time when Lohan was the cutest freckle-faced next big thing Disney had ever produced. Then, a few years later, she was Hollywood's "it" girl, after "Mean Girls" and before her personal and legal problems made us forget about all the good and have us wondering if she'll ever work again.

Follow along with us as we take a walk down memory lane for an appreciation of Lindsay Lohan's most memorable work onscreen, BC (Before the Criminal record):

Child Model

Lohan's road to fame included a familiar path for many child actors: modeling. The future "Mean Girls" star was signed to the prestigious Ford Modeling Agency when she was just 3 years old and went on to appear in more than 60 commercials, including ads for Pizza Hut, Wendy's and Jell-O, with Bill Cosby. A couple of years ago, Lohan herself was feeling nostalgic and tweeted a few baby pics that showcased her early talents mugging for the camera.

"The Parent Trap"

This was the one that put Lohan on the map. In this well-received 1998 remake, Lohan showed off promising acting chops (which included pulling off an English accent) and comedic timing in playing the two roles of precocious matchmaking twins Hallie and Annie, who team up to get their divorced parents back together. Disney was so delighted with Lohan and the success of "Parent Trap" that they signed her on for two more made-for-TV movies ("Life Size" and "Get a Clue") and another feature film.

"Freaky Friday"

Another Disney remake in which Lohan delighted audiences with her acting abilities and onscreen charm, in 2003's "Freaky Friday," Lohan played the angsty teen daughter of Jamie Lee Curtis in roles that had their characters switching bodies after wishes made on fortune cookies. "Freaky Friday" was a critical and financial success (the film grossed $110 domestically) that earned Curtis a Golden Globe nomination and Lohan her first MTV Movie Award for Best Breakthrough Performance in 2004.

"Mean Girls"

Looking back, 2004 and 2005 might have been Lohan's best years, career-wise. Hot off the success of "Freaky Friday" and her MTV Movie Award, Lohan appeared in the Tina Fey-penned high school comedy classic "Mean Girls," which also featured a slew of future stars: Rachel McAdams, Amanda Seyfried and Lizzie Caplan. Lohan's performance as new kid Cady Haron won her millions of new fans and another slew of awards, including Best Female Performance and Best On-Screen Team at the 2005 MTV Movie Awards.

Indie Darling

In 2006 Lohan, her popularity in Hollywood still climbing, attempted to establish some "serious actress" credibility by taking on a few supporting roles in smaller films, first in Robert Altman's final film, the star-studded ensemble "A Prairie Home Companion," in which Lohan played the daughter of Oscar-winner Meryl Streep, and then in Emilio Estevez's historical biopic "Bobby."

What was your favorite moment in Lindsay's career? Let us know in the comments!

"You're plastic. Cold, shiny, hard plastic." Grab the microwave popcorn and tune into Lindsay Lohan's mid-aughts classic "Mean Girls" airing Sunday, December 9 on MTV at 2 and 9 p.m.!

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