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The evolution of Lindsay Lohan

Lindsay Lohan is the queen bee in young Hollywood's royal court. Among the teen and twentysomething stars working and playing in Tinseltown, Lohan — with the hit movies Freaky Friday and Mean Girls to her name and a new album, Speak, out Tuesday — reigns supreme.

NEW YORK — Lindsay Lohan is the queen bee in young Hollywood's royal court.Among the teen and twentysomething stars working and playing in Tinseltown, Lohan — with the hit movies Freaky Friday and Mean Girls to her name and a new album, Speak, out Tuesday — reigns supreme. In person, Lohan, 18, is a spunky little wisp of a girl, with a sharp tongue, glossy auburn tresses and a merry, raspy laugh. She's stunning, her allure earthy and approachable. Today, she's dressed down in a tight top, jeans and knee-high shearling Marc Jacobs boots she bought just the other day on sale. Fresh off her breakup from That '70s Show's Wilmer Valderrama, Lohan is in fine spirits. And aside from a nagging cold that has her drinking echinacea-laced water, she has fully recovered from her five-day October hospitalization for fever, headaches and exhaustion, which she suffered while shooting the Disney comedy Herbie: Fully Loaded. "I was overscheduling myself," Lohan says, kicking back in her record label's lounge. "I was just exhausted. I wasn't taking care of myself, and pushing myself. I need to get different sleep. I need to eat the right foods. And traveling — I'm going from hot to cold. That's not good, because I have asthma and allergies." (Related audio photo gallery: The education of Lindsay Lohan)But all ailments are forgotten on this rainy afternoon, which finds Lohan excited about the release of her debut album. She has been singing for years, contributing tunes to her movie soundtracks. And Casablanca Records head Tommy Mottola, who helped Jennifer Lopez become a pop star, says Lohan is another musical sensation in the making: "She can sing unbelievably well. She moves well. She looks great." People's review says Lohan "hardly embarrasses herself," but "these fairly generic tracks sound like they could have been done by Hilary, Britney or Ashlee."Musically and otherwise, Lohan's idol is a fellow redhead. "The people I want to aspire to be like were the old actresses in Hollywood, like Ann-Margret," Lohan says. Like her, Lohan wants to keep on singing, which "is something I've always wanted to do since I was little." And her first single, Rumors, is about a subject dear to her: the desire for just a little bit of privacy."I'm tired of rumors starting. I'm tired of being followed. I'm tired of people lying." Still, says Lohan, who co-wrote many of the album's tunes, "I hope that people wouldn't think I was annoyed at the press. But there's still a lot of rumors about me that I read. It hurts a little bit."There's her recent favorite piece of gossip, which just entered the Falsehood Hall of Fame: "That I was 23 and I was lying about my age," she says, giggling. "All my friends heard it on Long Island (where she grew up and where her parents still live), and they called me."It's flattering that people want to know so much about me and want to take the time to make up that many things about me."Such is the price of being a hot Hollywood commodity. Lohan was a freckled, fresh-faced kid when she burst on the scene as a 12-year-old in the comedy The Parent Trap. Now, she has a house in L.A., famous pals and a half-dozen films in development. And she's rich. According to Variety, Lohan earned $7 million to star in her next movie, Lady Luck, a romantic comedy that starts shooting in January. But the fame has arrived in tandem with added scrutiny, which lands her in the tabloids on a weekly basis. The stories about her abound: Her father makes news with another legal scuffle! She has implants! Her partying is out of control! All that talk "is silly to us," says Lohan's mother/manager, Dina, who accompanied her daughter to the record label offices. "If she went to a club, she's not only there, she's dancing on the table."Just last week, more than 30 photos of Lindsay partying with friends in New York over Thanksgiving circulated on the Internet, and prompted her publicist to deny that Lohan smokes marijuana (while admitting the teen smokes cigarettes).As for the plastic surgery chitchat: "The fake-boob thing was kind of silly. They're so real. Lindsay's so afraid of doctors — a needle freaks her out," says Dina Lohan. But there is an upside to all those stories: "It makes her more real for other kids," says Dina Lohan, who is separated from her husband, Michael. "It's living life."Right now, Lohan is living it to the fullest. She's the cool, funky prom princess guys want to date and girls clamor to befriend. And perhaps that's why, at an age when many other former child actors crash and burn, Lohan — a former kiddie model and soap opera actress — has emerged as one of Hollywood's most sought-after stars. Much of it is because of her surprisingly nuanced turn as a misguided high schooler in this year's well-received comedy Mean Girls, about the treacherous world of cliques. "She carried that movie," screenwriter Tina Fey says. "She's very smart and totally in control of her life."The success of the film has left Lohan straddling the tenuous line between teen queen and adult actress. Her physical charms aren't lost on grown men. Teen girls, meanwhile, adore her: "I love her. She rox!!!!!" a fan raved on a Lohan appreciation Web site. "Lindsay is the cool girl, the one you want to go out with and you know you'd have a good time with if you did," says Teen People entertainment director Laura Morgan. "But she has also been around for a long time and has built a steady fan base. And she can really act."Lohan has several lighthearted flicks in the works, but the big-screen sweetness has left her craving something slightly grittier. "I don't want to keep doing all commercial stuff," she says. "But timing is everything. I got this one script where this girl wants to join a Latino gang and she gets raped. I can't be doing that right now. I don't think that's appropriate."If that sounds wise beyond her years, then so is Lohan, who guides her own career and reads every script before saying yea or nay. "After Mean Girls, so much stuff started coming in, and everything was accessible," she says. "I've learned to say no and take control. It's my career. It's my face out there." When it comes to career role models, she's looking to Jodie Foster, one of the few child stars who made the leap to respected, Oscar-winning actress. "It's really hard to do," Lohan says. "I want to be aware that I have younger fans, because my sister is 10 and she has all her friends over every day." She hopes Lady Luck, about a fortunate girl who meets an unlucky guy, "will allow me to mature on film a little bit sooner. But I'm not going to go and lose my virginity in a movie yet, because the second I do that, you can't go back. That makes me much older in terms of film and on the screen."Lohan already comes off as older than 18. Unlike her more squeaky-clean compatriots, she isn't afraid to bare skin in Rolling Stone and GQ magazines. The photos are "beautifully done," Dina Lohan says. "It's not like her top is off. She's a beautiful girl and she's 18."And there's Lohan's penchant for clubbing, arguably something many girls her age do anyway. "She's 18, and most girls her age would be in their freshman year of college," Teen People's Morgan says. "Most girls that age go out. The glare of the spotlight is on her, so if she has one late night, people blow it out of proportion."Take Lohan's current stay in New York. "(The papers) said I was out every night. I've been to every place, every single night, and closed the place, right?" Lohan says. "When I'm in L.A., I don't hear about that kind of stuff because I don't like to know about it. Everyone in L.A., even the 15-year-olds, are at the clubs, so that's really what everyone does. You're not allowed to have fun without being criticized." She has garnered even more attention for her now-kaput six-month relationship with Valderrama, who is six years her senior. Lohan won't divulge details about the November split, but says she's still very much single. "I'm not going to go from dating someone I was in love with just to be dating someone else," she says. "I'm not dating anyone. I'm afraid to hang out with any guys now because (the tabloids) say I'm dating people that I hang out with."Explains her mother: "The first-boyfriend breakup is traumatic. Lindsay's not going to say it doesn't hurt when you break up, because it does." Was their split amicable? As much as any separation can be, the junior Lohan says. "We're cool," she says. "We can all be mutual friends. And especially in L.A., it's one big group of people. Everything's cool."And a bit humorous. When Lohan mentions her eagerness to see the relationship drama Closer, this reporter jokes that she'll walk out of it hating men. Says the actress with a grin: "Really? But that's good!" The 'It' girl does it all Like many of her peers, Lindsay Lohan multi-tasks.Speak, album out TuesdayDrama Queen (That Girl) and What Are You Waiting For, songs on Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen soundtrack (2004) I Decide, song on Princess Diaries 2: A Royal Engagement soundtrack (2004) Ultimate, song on Freaky Friday soundtrack (2003) She acts:TVAnother World (1996) That '70s Show (2004) Movies:Mean Girls (2004): $86 million Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen (2004): $29.3 million Freaky Friday (2003): $110 million The Parent Trap (1998): $66.3 million Upcoming films:The NASCAR-themed Herbie: Fully Loaded (June 3, 2005) Lady Luck, starring Lohan as a lucky lady who meets a total loser (starts shooting in January) Fashionistas, about an up-and-coming designer who interns at a fashion mag Gossip Girl, detailing the rivalry among a group of pampered Manhattan princesses