David Letterman is being slammed for a 2013 interview with Lindsay Lohan, in which he pestered her for details about her rehab plans and addiction issues while the audience laughed.
On September 4, 2013, Lindsay, then 27, visited the Late Show with David Letterman to promote Scary Movie 5 — but within minutes of sitting down next to the host, Lindsay was peppered with invasive and at times mocking questions about her personal struggles, including a recent stay at a facility that provides treatment for alcohol and drug abuse.
While the interview clearly upset Lindsay, now 34, it didn’t seem to bother very many viewers at the time — but a clip from the show has recently resurfaced on TikTok, where commenters are praising Lindsay for keeping her cool and condemning Letterman for his insensitivity.
Flashback: David Letterman is being slammed for a 2013 interview with Lindsay Lohan, in which he pestered her for details about her rehab plans and addiction issues
Rude: The interview started off nicely, but Lindsay face fell when Letterman abruptly asked her about rehab
Disrespect: Lindsay tried to move away from the subject but Letterman continued to push
Lindsay beamed as she walked out onto the set for the interview, which began quite cordially, with Letterman even sharing a photo of Lindsay’s first appearance back in 1992.
They had playful banter, with Lindsay being a good sport even as Letterman began teasing her for supposedly being a troublemaker and having problems with the law.
But after just three minutes, Letterman turned to her and asked bluntly: ‘Aren’t you supposed to be in rehab now?’
Lindsay’s smile immediately fell off her face, and it’s clear she was caught off-guard by the question.
She responded a bit defensively, asking if Letterman paid attention at all — and corrected him to note that she had already been to rehab that May.
The star had done a court-ordered 90-day stint at Morningside Recovery in Newport Beach, California after pleading no contest to violating her shoplifting probation. The judge had given her a choice to avoid jail by spending her time in a drug and alcohol treatment facility.
But if Letterman sensed her changed in tone, he didn’t care, and continued to press her on the topic, asking her how long she was there (three months) and how many times she’s been (seven).
Off-guard: She even pointed out that the topic wasn’t discussed in the preliminary interview
Upsetting: Lindsay also seemed particularly unhappy when the audience laughed at Letterman’s questions
Where’s the empathy? The host treated addiction issues as a laughing matter
‘We’re here for a movie,’ Lindsay firmly told him. ‘Let’s stay on the positive’
This exchanged earned laughter from the audience — and Lindsay turned to face them, a pained smile on her face.
‘How will this time be different?’ Letterman continued. ‘What are they rehabbing, first of all? What is on their list? What are they gonna work on when you walk through the door?’
The questions earned more laughter from the audience, and Lindsay continued to plaster a strained smile on her face.
‘We didn’t discuss this in the pre-interview,’ she told him, referring to a preliminary interview that producers conduct with talk show guests before they go on, as a sort of rehearsal of what will be discussed on air.
Letterman agreed that they didn’t, but refused to take the hint, and continued to press her.
She responded politely: ‘I think, to be honest, I’m the happiest when I’m working, and the healthiest. And this is an opportunity for me to, you know, focus on what I love in life. And I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I think it’s a blessing.’
Still not finished, Letterman asked her if she had ‘addiction problems.’
Working: Lindsay was there to promote Scary Movie 5, which had premiered just before her most recent rehab stint
Getting help: The star had done a court-ordered 90-day stint at Morningside Recovery in Newport Beach, California after pleading no contest to violating her shoplifting probation
Flash forward: Lindsay is pictured in Melbourne, Australia in November 2019
Lindsay, clearly getting quite fed up with playing nice, then lost her smile altogether and responded: ‘Now you sound like Dr. Phil.’
Yet Letterman still nudged further, asking if she had alcohol problems and what happened when she went to rehab — which is when Lindsay finally put her foot down.
‘We’re here for a movie,’ she told him.
‘Let’s stay on the positive,’ she added, reminding him that he has known her since she was seven.
The interview continued to be combative, but didn’t seem to set off too many alarm bells for viewers at the time.
In fact, it was even written up by Entertainment Weekly and the Los Angeles Times as an ‘awkward’ but ‘heartfelt’ interview.
But social media users are now revisiting the clip, thanks in part to recent documentaries about Britney Spears and Paris Hilton that have shed new light on how female celebrities have been treated in the past — particularly when it comes to subjects like sex, addiction, and mental health.
Uproar: When TikTok user @calabasaswings shared a snipped of the interview on the app, it racked up 2.7 million views — and thousands of furious and sympathetic comments
When TikTok user @calabasaswings shared a snipped of the interview on the app, it racked up 2.7 million views — and thousands of furious and sympathetic comments.
Singer Madison Beer even chimed in, writing: ‘This is so wrong on so many levels.
‘What a personal thing to be put on the spot on TV about. She should only speak on her experience if she’s comfortable & that should b respected,’ she added.
Other commenters weighed in as well, saying their respect for Lindsay went up while watching the clip, but their respect for Letterman went down.
‘It’s actually not funny that he’s making fun of someone who has a substance abuse problem. The network should not have been okay with this,’ wrote one.
‘She handled this absurdity with class,’ wrote another, while another said: ‘I straight up would’ve walked off. How did she keep her cool.’
‘Her entire demeanor changed. He’s so wrong for this,’ wrote another.
‘This is actually so sad,’ wrote one more. ‘You can tell she is so nervous by her hands.’
‘Is he mocked her trying to better herself or?’ asked one more, while yet another commented: ‘That’s so sad and wrong.’
Others chimed in that ‘sobriety isn’t a joke’ and chided the audience for laughing at the interview.
Kat Dunn of Big Brother 21 added: ‘David Letterman is and always has been problematic.’
Inspo: The clip has resurfaced within days of the release of ‘Framing Britney Spears,’ which has left many viewers reexamining how Britney’s struggles were treated in the early-to-mid 2000s
Similarly, Paris Hilton released her own documentary in 2020, which also shed new light on serious issues she was coping with behind-the-scenes
The clip has resurfaced within days of the release of the New York Times documentary ‘Framing Britney Spears,’ which has left many viewers reexamining how Britney’s struggles were treated in the early-to-mid 2000s.
Viewers have taken to Twitter to express regret over how Britney’s mental health issues were treated with mockery and contempt.
Similarly, Paris Hilton released her own documentary in 2020, which also shed new light on serious issues she was coping with behind-the-scenes — even as tabloids, talk show hosts, and the general public mocked and attacked her.
The Lindsay Lohan clip is one of several interviews from that time period that have resurfaced in recent years, drawing outrage on behalf of the female interviewee.
In June of 2020, a 2009 interview of Megan Fox went viral for similar reasons, with social media users slamming Jimmy Kimmel for joking about a serious subject.
Megan, now 34, had shared a disturbing story about being sexualized in a Michael Bay film when she was just 15 — but rather than sympathizing or seeming troubled by the story, Jimmy, now 53, cracked an inappropriate joke about her teenage sexuality.
Re-examined: In a 2009 interview with Jimmy Kimmel, Megan shared how she was cast to dance in a bikini under a waterfall at age 15 — and she is clearly put off by the memory
Yikes: When she told the story, though, Kimmel replied with a sexual joke and the audience laughs
In the interview, Megan recalled being on the set of Bad Boys II, for which her credit read ‘Stars-and-Stripes Bikini Kid Dancing Under Waterfall.’
‘I had just turned 15 and I was an extra in Bad Boys II. They were shooting this club scene and they brought me in, and I was wearing a Stars-and-Stripes Bikini and a red cowboy hat. And six-inch heels,’ she said.
‘And he approved it, and they said, you know, “Michael, she’s 15, so you can’t sit her at the bar and she can’t have a drink in her hand.
‘So his solution to that problem was to then have me dancing underneath a waterfall getting soaking wet,’ she concluded with a straight face.
When the crowd laughed, she reiterated: ‘At 15. I was in tenth grade. So that’s a microcosm of how Bay’s mind works.’
Kimmel then responded: ‘Well that’s really a microcosm of how all our minds work.’
Megan looked uncomfortable, running her hands down her legs and cringing at the audience while Jimmy added that ‘some of us have the decency to suppress those thoughts and pretend that they don’t exist.’
Not OK: Viewers are now looking at the interview with horror, pointing out that Megan was trying to share a troubling story and it wasn’t taken seriously
Flashback: Megan was 15 and in tenth grade when she filmed this scene in Bad Boys II
Movie biz: She appeared in Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen the next year (pictured, 2004)
When the clip resurfaced, Twitter users expressed their horror at the way Megan’s experience was made light of.
‘His response is even worse what the hell,’ wrote one. And another: ‘WTF were they doing casting a 15 year-old as a bikini-wearing clubber?’
‘I think Fox’s reaction shows a lot,’ said a third. ‘She’s so clearly visibly upset by Kimmel’s reaction but can’t say anything to his awful joke. This is terrible to watch, it’s a kind of abuse in real time. Even a high star celebrity is not immune.’
‘That single nod she did after his “joke” was the exact moment she realized all men are the same and it probably scared the shit out of her to get that response from a tv host with so much power,’ another agreed.
One more chimed in: ‘What an utterly disgusting take by Kimmel. Why is, “I’m so sorry that happened to you”, something that is beyond his imagination to say. Instead he offers, “We all have those thoughts, but we repress them”. God damn, she was 15. Who the Hell is “We”?
And yet another wrote: ‘The way Hollywood and the media treated Megan Fox in general was deeply disgusting.’