Are you quite a tricksy girl?" a reporter asked 12-year-old Lindsay Lohan at the Los Angeles premiere of The Parent Trap on July 20, 1998. "When I need to be," answered Lohan, whose breakout performance tricked viewers into buying her as identical twins, one American, one British, separated at birth. The film launched Lohan's career -- the former child model left her Another World soap opera gig for the part -- as well as that of director Nancy Meyers. Parent Trap producer Charles Shyer, who shared an Oscar writing nom with then-wife Meyers for Private Benjamin, was sold on Lohan 30 seconds into her screen test. "This one is going to be impossible to beat," he told Meyers.
At the first preview, "Disney head Michael Eisner said, 'Those two girls are brilliant!' " says Shyer. "He thought it was two different girls." (Eisner, who read three drafts of the script and saw the 1961 Hayley Mills original, denies this via a rep.) But Eisner did find the Long Islander convincing, as did THR's reviewer, who wrote, "Lohan is a major find … Mills would likely approve."
The exhausted tween fell asleep during the premiere of the film, which went on to gross $66 million. And her career, which would peak with 2004's Mean Girls, fell asleep at the wheel after a 2007 DUI bust. Her potential comeback might be with another Brit impersonation -- in Lifetime's upcoming Liz & Dick. "Elizabeth Taylor was a child star who evolved into a great actress," says Shyer. "One hopes Lindsay has the same trajectory. She has the chops. She's not like these reality TV show people."