When Disney decided to clone The Parent Trap, its 1961 comedy starring Hayley Mills as twins separated by their parents' divorce, the first task was finding someone with Mills's DNA (Disarming Natural Ability). After reviewing about 4,000 hopefuls, the studio invited five to Los Angeles. "I had never done a screen test before," says Lindsay Lohan
, 12. "In fact, I had never been to L.A. before."
No problem. When the tests were graded, "I said, 'I want that redhead!' " recounts Nancy Meyers, who directed Lohan in the kidflick remake that opened last month and likens her to a young Diane Keaton, an actress "gifted as a comedian but who doesn't know it." The Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., seventh-grader had already appeared in a soap (Another World) and 60-plus commercials. Though encouraged by her parents—Dina, 35, an ex-Radio City Rockette, and Michael, 38, a former child actor turned pasta-chip entrepreneur—Lohan had best not let stardom go to her head. "If one of these days it's 'Mommy, where's my limo?' " jokes Dina, "I'm going to say, Forget it."