With no warning and little by way of promotional preamble, the trailer surfaced online in January, almost immediately producing a ripple of wonderment across Movie Twitter: a Lindsay Lohan–starring video-on-demand werewolf movie exists — who knew? As with most high-grade movie marketing materials, the clip for the supernatural-political thriller Among the Shadows (which arrives on cable March 5) prompted more questions than answers.
Among them: How did Lohan’s mysterious character Patricia Sherman come to speak at something called the International States Business Summit in Paris (in front of a podium that inexplicably reads “United Nations”)? What are her considerations in hiring Charlotte Beckett’s Euro-werewolf-detective character — the rather unsubtly named Kristy Wolfe — to safeguard her politician husband? (“I wanna hire you,” Lindsay intones.) Moreover, what dark realities undergird the Freaky Friday star’s fear of his imminent murder? And, as per the movie’s poster, is LiLo herself potentially a wolf in chic clothing?
And of course, the million-dollar question everyone wants answered: How did LiLo come to prominently feature in a V.O.D. werewolf movie (which the filmmakers declined to screen in advance of its release for Vulture)? Among the Shadows arrives as Lohan’s first feature film performance since her turn as a failed ingenue with self-esteem issues in the 2013 erotic thriller The Canyons — a legendarily troubled production during which the actress was fired for skipping rehearsal, tearfully begged to be rehired, and forced director Paul Schrader to strip naked in commiseration while filming her first nude scene (opposite porn star James Deen). Nowadays better known for her years-long self-exile in Dubai and line of Lindsay Lohan Beach Clubs in Mykonos and Rhodes (the former with its own attendant MTV reality series), her Among the Shadows role stands as a dramatic departure for Lohan: her first real “grown-up” character, a woman of the world with an unplaceable accent and no shortage of secrets.
Vulture reached out to Shadows producer Ross Otterman, who says he asked her to act in the film back in 2015, and Lindsay agreed. Less than a year removed from her court mandated 90-day “lockdown rehab” program — Lohan’s sentence for reckless driving and lying to police at the scene of an accident, as well as violating her parole for allegedly stealing a necklace in 2011 — the actress had moved to London in 2014 to appear in a generally well-reviewed production of the David Mamet Hollywood-skewering play Speed-the-Plow. And at a moment when many Hollywood producers considered the former child star all but unemployable, Among the Shadows’ backers specifically endeavored to cast Lohan, hoping to trade on her durable marquee appeal and global celebrity. “Initially, when we approached her management, it took a while to get any traction until we informed them that we were going to shoot the film in Brussels,” says Among the Shadows executive producer Jay Xudan. “After that, everything just kind of came together.”
As for what, in particular, made them think Lindsay would be a good fit for the role — especially one so unlike anything the Mean Girls co-star had played in the past — Xudan says, “We’ve seen her ability to act, and we know that she can carry pretty much any role that she wants to.”
The majority of filming on Among the Shadows took place in London, Rome, and Brussels over a 45-day period spread out over the end of 2015 and early 2016. But to hear Xudan tell it, the headline news here is what didn’t occur: the kind of headstrong, wild behavior that made Lohan a tabloid mainstay throughout the mid-aughts. Instead, those on set were struck by the actress’s professionalism, focus, and preparation — a far cry from her diva-ish tantrums while making The Canyons, a micro-budget film on which she unsuccessfully lobbied to have her little-known co-stars Deen and Nolan Funk replaced with A-listers such as Brad Pitt, Justin Timberlake, and Jared Leto, also demanding $1 million upfront for her performance (but eventually settling for a Screen Actors Guild minimum of $100 a day and a back-end deal to share in the film’s profits). “She was very professional. On day one, she knows all her lines, and we were very, very pleased to be able to have the brand-new Lindsay, so to speak,” says Xudan, who was present on set every day Lohan performed. “We had no problem with her whatsoever. When she walked onto the set people would just kind of stop and realize, ‘Wow, Lindsay’s on set!’ So it’s a very exciting thing to see that. When she was in character, things were really flowing on the set. We really had a good time good working with her.”
The Tiago Mesquita–directed film languished for nearly three years before being listed for sale at the European Film Market last year and acquired for distribution by Momentum Pictures, Entertainment One, and VMI Worldwide, an L.A.-based film finance and production company that specializes in genre films. Producer Otterman insists that the unusually lengthy postproduction process is actually standard operating procedure for a film of this scope. “We shot in five countries over ten months so there’s a lot of editing and planning to do, plus sound,” he says. “The end product took a while, but the film was actually finished in 2018, it just takes time to show it to buyers and go through the distribution process. We also wanted to go with the best possible distributor and Entertainment One and Momentum are great, and we’re lucky to be working with them.” (According to Jason E. Squire, professor of the Practice of Cinema Arts at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts and editor of The Movie Business Book, such delays are common to independently financed films and should not automatically be perceived as production chaos. “When you hear about a movie delayed on a studio release schedule, the impulse is to take it as a negative,” Squire says. “But the process of getting an independent movie made is so difficult, there really is no timetable. This is business as usual in the independent world.”)
To date, Lohan has not promoted Among the Shadows, nor has the movie received so much as a mention on her various social-media accounts since 2016 (instead, she continues to forward the narrative about herself as a burgeoning entrepreneur, recently detailing to Us Weekly how she’s a “techie” who works part-time as a yacht broker and bought the rights to the Tina Seskis novel The Honeymoon, which Lohan plans to star in and co-direct). Still, Xudan remains hopeful that audiences will check out the film (even if for no other reason than the morbid curiosity that continues to surround everything Lindsay Lohan). “We were actually pretty happy [with] the way things turned out,” he says. “The movie turned out great. She’s still very much a star.”