When she came back to New York at the end of the shoot, she took a few weeks off before her album promotion blitz, partied at the Marquee (where someone apparently found her lost wallet stuffed with rolled-up dollar bills) and planned her next career move. After three months of co-starring with an animatronic Volkswagon, she went looking for a dangerous part while her agents negotiated her next multi-million dollar contract. She had more options than ever before. She took interest in Kenneth Lonergan's gigantic New York epic "Margaret," but Dina objected to its content. She read the first draft of Matthew Wilder's (notoriously excellent but never produced) Linda Lovelace script and wanted the part, but, of course, a porn biopic was out of the question.

Much wiser decisions were made for Lindsay's indie breakout. In March 2005, Lindsay would earn $7.5 million for "Just My Luck," a conventional rom-com about a surrealistically lucky young PR agent who has her fortunes changed by a tarot reader. After that unfortunate business, she would shoot two films that would, at least superficially, give her a launching pad as a dramatic actress. In Robert Altman's "A Prairie Home Companion," Lindsay would have to work opposite Meryl Streep, playing her suicide-obsessed teenage daughter. That fall, she would have one of the better subplots in Emilio Estevez's "Bobby," an all-star "Grand Hotel" retread set on the night of the younger Kennedy's assassination.

But 2005 did not go as planned. Dina filed for divorce. Lindsay's debut album "Speak" went Platinum, despite her being little more than a capable vocalist. (Here is the acapella track of her lead single, the anti-paparazzi rant "Rumors," presumably written on automatic pilot.) Michael filed a lawsuit, claiming he was entitled to a portion of her millions, all the while trying to assemble his own reality show. Sometime around this point, Lindsay was prescribed Adderall, probably more for her extreme schedule than for ADHD, and she started to hemorrhage weight. When she hosted SNL that spring to promote "Herbie: Fully Loaded," she poked fun at her skinny arms on stage, but backstage, Amy Poehler and Tina Fey were giving her an intervention.

After the broadcast, Lindsay went out. "Herbie" was released and it earned $144 million.

Lindsay and Meryl Streep in "A Prairie Home Companion"
Lindsay and Meryl Streep in "A Prairie Home Companion"

Shooting "A Prairie Home Companion" in Minnesota that summer turned out to be a positive learning experience for Lindsay. It was an unconventional shoot: She had never improvised, and she had a hard time getting used to Altman's long takes. They shot ten pages on Lindsay's first day on set. Altman and his actors went to dinner every night, and Streep took Lindsay under her wing. It was a proud time for Lindsay, and after doing two awful studio films in a row, it gave her an opportunity to work as a real actress, living the dream lightyears away from family drama. Most writers talk about her "holding her own" against Streep and Tomlin, but Lindsay is better than that. "A Prairie Home Companion" represents the best evidence of Lindsay's squandered talent. She creates a character as visibly as the rest of the star-studded cast, adopting an anxiety-filled half-whisper and a rejected pout, and she carries the film's musical climax entirely solo.

Inspired by the summer shoot with Altman, Lindsay decided she wanted to direct. She had been working on her second album, which she decided was going to be a little more personal and raw. The resultant album "A Little More Personal (Raw)" was accompanied by Lindsay's directorial debut: A music video for the lead single "Confessions of a Broken Heart (Daughter to Father)." To her credit, Lindsay appears to have thought the concept through thoroughly: The video intercuts between Lindsay's parents having a violent domestic dispute, her sister Ali crying in a tutu in her bedroom, and Lindsay, singing and sobbing on her bathroom floor in a bejeweled ballgown. This all takes place in Manhattan storefront windows before the public. The song is unbearably intimate and self-conscious, but for all her narcissism, Lindsay is attempting to taking control of the press surrounding her. In MTV's "Making The Video," she says: "My life is on display for the public...People want to find the drama, especially in my life, for whatever reason that may be. They find that interesting, whether it's in the tabloids or on TV, so I'm giving people what they want. I'm giving them the drama."

Lindsay shot "Bobby" at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles at the end of the year. She played Diane, a young woman who marries a classmate so he won't be stationed in Vietnam. Luckily for Lindsay, she had one of the most poignant narratives out of the ensemble and one of the only pay-offs that works. Even with less than ten minutes of screen time and 24 co-stars, she stood out and made an impression. Lindsay stayed on in Los Angeles and moved into the Chateau Marmont, the famous celebrity safe haven. While staying there, she told Vanity Fair she had been bulemic. And that she had abused cocaine.


On January 3, 2006, Lindsay is rushed to the hospital with an asthma attack. It is the first of five hospitalizations that year.

In April, Meryl Streep is interviewed for a W Magazine cover story. She says of Lindsay, "She's in command of the art form."

In May, "Just My Luck" is released. The film comes in fourth on its opening weekend and loses money.

On July 26, Lindsay fails to show up for work on "Georgia Rule," a dramatic film with Jane Fonda. Lindsay had spent the prior evening at Guy Tuesday's in Los Angeles, and is hospitalized for heat exhaustion.

Two days later, the CEO of the film's production company releases an open letter: "To date, your actions on Georgia Rule have been discourteous, irresponsible and unprofessional. You have acted like a spoiled child and in doing so have alienated many of your co-workers and endangered the quality of this picture."

Damn, Africa. What happened?


Check back tomorrow for Part 3.