Nancy Meyers’ reboot of the The Parent Trap hit theaters in 1998. The all-star cast – including a young Lindsay Lohan starring as a set of twins – decided to reunite 22 years later for a chat about the beloved flick. Of course, the actors looked so much different than they did at the end of the 20th century. And what’s more, they revealed some fond memories of the time, including tributes to one of the film’s late stars.
Now, in 1961 Disney released The Parent Trap, which starred Hayley Mills as a set of teenage twins who want to reunite their divorced parents. Nearly 40 years later, writer and director Nancy Meyers decided to remake the classic. And she would need a very special child actress to fill Mills’ shoes.
According to a 2007 piece in Newsweek, Meyers said she sought to find a child actress who was “a little Diane Keaton… so alive on the screen.” So more than 1,000 little girls sent in audition tapes in the hopes that they’d fit the bill. From that pool came one aspiring actress who’d become the star of the 1998 film: Lindsay Lohan.
And Meyers’ version of The Parent Trap would have Lohan and her co-stars acting in a film very similar to the 1961 original. The movie starts with Nick Parker and Elizabeth James – an American and a Brit, respectively – getting married aboard the Queen Elizabeth II while making a transatlantic crossing.
But once the couple settles down – and welcomes a set of twins – things deteriorate, and they decide to get a divorce. Interestingly, each parent takes custody of one of their newborn girls, Hallie and Annie, and they end up settling on opposite sides of the globe. Nick’s daughter, Hallie, grows up in California’s Napa Valley, while Annie and her mom live in London.
Of course, fate brings the sisters back together when their parents unknowingly send them to the same summer camp. The look-alikes meet – and don’t get along at all. Instead, they spend all summer pranking each other to the point that the camp leaders put them into isolation together until the summer ends.
Time alone gives Hallie and Annie the chance to discover that they don’t just look like each other – they’re bona fide twins. So the girls also come up with a plan to reunite their divorced parents by swapping identities and going home to the mom and dad they haven’t met yet.
What the twins haven’t accounted for is that their dad has found a horrible new girlfriend, Meredith, while Hallie was away. But the girls are still able to reunite their parents after Elizabeth learns that her daughter in London isn’t actually Annie, but her sister. So she flies to San Francisco, where she reunites with her ex-husband for the first time.
From there, the twins try their hardest to reunite their parents in a romantic relationship, but their efforts fail. However, they do successfully get rid of Meredith, who shows her true colors on a family camping trip. And so begins Hallie and Annie’s successful plot to get Nick and Elizabeth back together.
In the end, Nick chases after Elizabeth – something he didn’t do after their divorce – and they decide to bring the family together. And the film ends how it began as the twins’ parents get remarried on the Queen Elizabeth II. This time, though, the twins get to attend the nuptials.
The feel-good film resonated with both critics and audiences. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes calculated an 86 percent approval rating for the film amongst the experts. It reads, “Writer-director Nancy Meyers takes the winning formula of the 1961 original and gives it an amiable modern spin, while young star Lindsay Lohan shines in her breakout role.”
Of course, Lohan topped a long list of hopefuls to play The Parent Trap twins. For instance, now-famous actresses including Scarlett Johansson and Mara Wilson had auditioned for the dual-role. And while Michelle Trachtenberg was considered to play Annie and Hallie, Jena Malone claimed to have turned down the movie multiple times.
In the end, The Parent Trap team had casting calls across the North American continent before they found their girl. You see, Lohan’s tape came through from an open call in New York, and once Meyers saw it, she knew. In a DVD interview, she recalled saying, “There’s something electric about this girl.”
But casting Lohan to play the twin sisters was only one piece of the puzzle. Yes, The Parent Trap wouldn’t be complete without parents. And Dennis Quaid took the role of Nick Parker, Annie and Hallie’s dad and a well-to-do vineyard owner. Before the 1998 flick, he had made a name for himself in 1983’s The Right Stuff and 1989’s Great Balls of Fire.
To play Quaid’s on-screen ex-wife and British fashion designer, Meyers tapped London-born actress Natasha Richardson. An accomplished performer in her own right, Richardson came from a famous family of actors and directors. This included father Tony Richardson and mother Vanessa Redgrave – especially known for their work on London’s West End stages.
Then there was the on-screen foil to Richardson’s motherly character. Yes, Elaine Hendrix would play Nick’s girlfriend Meredith Blake, the publicist with no interest in becoming a stepmother to his daughters. A year prior to her casting, the actress played Lisa Luder in the comedy Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion.
Finally, The Parent Trap featured Lisa Ann Walter in the role of Chessy, who serves as Hallie’s nanny and Nick’s housekeeper. On the other side of the pond, Martin – played by actor Simon Kunz – worked as Elizabeth’s butler. Spoiler alert: when Chessy and Martin meet in the movie, they fall for one another just like Elizabeth and Nick.
So in 2020 – more than 20 years after The Parent Trap – the cast reunited to share their best memories from filming and chat about the impact that the movie had. In fact, it was journalist Katie Couric’s idea to stage the gathering after chatting with Meyers in an Instagram Live session.
And Couric shared the resulting chat through her Instagram on July 20. Now, the reunion served as more than just a chance for some Parent Trap nostalgia. Indeed, it was also a fundraiser for World Central Kitchen, which provides fresh meals to communities in need.
The virtual catch up – held via online chat platform Zoom – brought most of the main cast back together. Yes, Lohan, Quaid, Hendrix, Walter and Kunz joined in, as did Meyers and Charles Shyer, who produced and co-wrote the film. Sadly, Richardson – who played the twins’ mother Elizabeth – had passed away in 2009.
After her Parent Trap performance, Richardson had continued acting until her untimely death. You see, her credits included the 2002 romantic comedy Maid in Manhattan and two films alongside her actress mother: The White Countess and Evening, released in 2005 and 2007 respectively.
Richardson also had on-stage success. In her 2009 obituary in Playbill, Robert Simonson wrote, “Ms. Richardson had an easy sensuality and natural exuberance, as well as an inner vulnerability. Those qualities suited her well as Sally Bowles in the dark and celebrated Sam Mendes-Rob Marshall revival of Cabaret in 1998.” For that role, the actress had won a Tony Award.
Behind the scenes, Richardson had found happiness, too. Yes, she’d married actor Liam Neeson, and the pair shared two sons – Micheal and Daniel, who were 13 and 12 at the time of their mother’s death. Sadly, she passed away after what had initially seemed to be a minor skiing accident. In reality, a bump to the head had proved fatal.
On The Parent Trap reunion call, Hendrix recalled how Richardson would “swoon” over her husband, Neeson. The actress said of her late co-star, “She would come into the hair and makeup trailer and she would literally swoon over talking about Liam and her kids. She would call him ‘my Liam.’ And she really seemed to have it all, which to me made what happened even more heartbreaking.”
And Lohan recalled Richardson, her on-screen mother in The Parent Trap, as “so maternal.” She also said that she “had such an elegance and grace.” Quaid concurred with Lohan, describing his late screen partner as “somebody so giving, so glad to be there and transmitted that joy of being able to do what we do.”
After The Parent Trap, Quaid, too, continued to find joy – and plenty of work. In fact, his career soared after the family-friendly flick. For instance, he starred alongside Al Pacino and Cameron Diaz in Any Given Sunday. Then came 2002’s The Rookie and Far From Heaven, the latter of which earned him the Best Supporting Actor award from the New York Film Critics Circle.
Furthermore, Quaid headlined later films, including 2004’s The Day After Tomorrow and The Alamo, as well as Vantage Point in 2008. Also, the actor appeared on the small screen in series including Vegas, The Art of More, Fortitude and Merry Happy Whatever.
Throughout it all, you might say Quaid’s personal life has been in the headlines as much as his on-screen accomplishments. You see, in the 1990s he was married to fellow Hollywood star Meg Ryan, and onlookers believed they had one of the strongest marriages in Tinseltown. However, they separated in 2000, an announcement that stunned their fans.
Four years later, though, Quaid got married to Kimberly Buffington, a real-estate agent and fellow Texan. And the pair welcomed a set of twins, Thomas Boone and Zoe Grace, but then split in 2018. This left Quaid to reminisce on his most famous marriage to Ryan, and during an interview he admitted that they split partly because he was jealous of his ex-wife’s career.
But Quaid found happiness again with a University of Texas Ph.D. student named Laura Savoie, who is 40 years his junior. The pair wed in June 2020, just before he reunited with his Parent Trap co-stars on Zoom. The actor had plenty of memories to share during the virtual catch-up session, too.
Firstly, Quaid noted just how special it was to work on The Parent Trap. He said, “When it comes down to it, this movie just had some sort of stardust that was just sprinkled on it.” And much of that magic came down to his then-11-year-old co-star, Lohan, he said.
Yes, the A-lister admitted that he’d thought Lohan was actually two people because her English accent was so good. He added, “The first thing I remember was meeting Lindsay at some kind of screen test… I remember thinking, ‘That’s one of the most talented people I’ve met, period. Forget that she’s 11 years old.’”
As it turned out, Quaid wasn’t mistaken – Lohan was on her way to becoming a huge Hollywood star. Her triumph in The Parent Trap led to more work with Disney, including 2003’s Freaky Friday and Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen the next year.
But it would be her turn in 2004’s Mean Girls that would make Lohan into an A-lister. Critics and audiences loved it, and the movie was one of the most financially successful of the year. Furthermore, the starlet even earned accolades from the Teen Choice and MTV Movie Awards.
Still, Hollywood wasn’t particularly kind to Lohan. She became a regular at nightclubs – and on the pages of tabloids. And her mistakes, as well as her parents’, became the focus, instead of her burgeoning career. Eventually she went into rehab multiple times and decided to leave Los Angeles behind.
By the time she reached her 30s, Lohan lived overseas and liked it that way. In a 2018 profile in The New York Times, she revealed that she had opened a nightclub in Greece and was working to develop the novel The Honeymoon into a movie. She said, “I’m not in America, so no one knows about it, which is nice for me because I get to actually focus.”
Anyway, the rest of the actors who attended the The Parent Trap reunion have, like Lohan, side-stepped Hollywood superstardom. That’s not to say they haven’t continued acting. Indeed, Hendrix, Walter and Kunz have all had plenty of work since their supporting parts in the family film. Hendrix, who played the gold-digging girlfriend, has more than 50 entries on her post-Parent Trap filmography.
And Hendrix’s credits include 1999’sSuperstar and Here on Earth. She also starred in Inspector Gadget 2 and Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2, as well as the 2019 movie, Adopt a Highway. Meanwhile, Walter – who played the housekeeper in The Parent Trap – has had parts in major films such as Bruce Almighty, Shall We Dance and War of the Worlds.
What’s more, Walter has dabbled in radio, hosting a three-hour show every Saturday and Sunday morning from 2001 to 2014. But she later quit to place her focus back on acting. Her Parent Trap love interest, Kunz, never wavered, though. You see, he’s earned accolades for his on-stage performances in London, and played a key part in the BBC/Netflix period drama The Last Kingdom.
Clearly, The Parent Trap brought together an incredible amount of talent. And Lohan said in the 2020 web chat that she knew just how lucky everyone was to come together that way. She said, “I just felt so lucky and really blessed. Without this movie, I wouldn’t have gotten the acting bug. How do you not want to only act for the rest of your life after doing a film like this?”