Lindsay Lohan recently made a much-anticipated return to acting with a starring role in a Netflix Christmas movie. This resurgence comes after a long and bumpy hiatus that included several personal scandals and legal snafus. It has made many fans nostalgic for Lohan’s previous work, which included teen favorites like Mean Girls and Freaky Friday.
This retrospective includes A Prairie Home Companion, a feel-good dramedy that had Lohan starring alongside heavy hitters Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin. One scene from the film had all three of these leading ladies in tears!
‘A Prairie Home Companion’ was filled with nostalgia for a bygone era
Released in 2006, A Prairie Home Companion centered on the final recording of the real-life live radio show of the same name. In fact, the screenplay was written by Garrison Keillor, who hosted a version of the show named for the original for decades.
The trailer for the show centers its metaphorical relationship with the cycle of life. It opens with the ominous voiceover that explains the show is “a live radio variety show, the kind that died 50 years ago, but somebody forgot to tell them until this night.”
As the cast of the show grapples with the reality that they’re recording for the final time, the show becomes an at-times emotional (and at other times hilarious) look at what it means to live, die, and pass over the torch to whoever and whatever is coming next.
The film was well received, a fact that was certainly helped by its star-studded cast that included several Oscar winners and nominees.
Lindsay Lohan calls ‘A Prairie Home Companion’ ‘the best learning experience’
Recently, Lohan sat down with Cosmopolitan to do a scene-by-scene breakdown of some of her iconic roles of the past. When A Prairie Home Companion came up, Lohan chuckled before saying, “That movie was, I think, the best learning experience for me.”
The scene they chose to dissect was one in which Lily Tomlin’s character is recounting a long-winded story about a hypoglycemic shoplifter who steals a donut from Meryl Streep and Lindsay Lohan’s characters. What Lohan reveals in her discussion of the scene is that it was her very first day of shooting with them and that the entire scene was ad-libbed.
She says that by the end of the scene, all three of them were crying — though she doesn’t elaborate on whether it was from laughing or getting emotional. While the tears didn’t make it into the final cut, it’s clear from what did land in the film that the three had some excellent chemistry that helped boost the film’s overall stellar reception.
‘A Prairie Home Companion’ was beloved by critics
A quick look at the Rotten Tomatoes page for A Prairie Home Companion — which would be the final film for director Robert Altman, who died in late 2006 — shows a gap between critic and viewer experience. While the film gets a “fresh” rating of 81% from critics, viewers gave it only a 59%. Perhaps film critics close to the industry were more attuned to the show’s deeper meaning.
Indeed, many of their comments focus heavily on the show’s grappling with grief. As David Edelstein wrote for New York Magazine, “The movie, redolent of death, is a sort of wake, but a funny-sad one, teeming with music, corny jokes, and an ensemble of gifted performers who appear to be having an obscene amount of fun in one another’s company. That fun—and that sadness—is contagious.”
BBC reviewer Matthew Leyland pointed out that everyone in the cast and crew — including Altman himself — knew it would be his final film. As a result, “It’s a warm and dignified end to a sometimes erratic but often enthralling career.”
Writing for The Dispatch, Matthew Lucas declares the film “a warm, witty ode to ends, beginnings, and everything in between.” Fitting, then, that Lohan’s attempt to reclaim her place in the spotlight includes a look back at a prior role in this thoughtful project.
RELATED: Lindsay Lohan Had the Opposite School Experience From Her ‘Mean Girls’ Character