It’s been 20 years since two Lindsay Lohans stole the hearts of moviegoers in “The Parent Trap,” the 1998 remake of the 1961 film of the same name. And Elaine Hendrix, who played Meredith Blake a.k.a. evil stepmother-to-be a.k.a. Cruella de Vil in the film, spoke with TheWrap about working alongside a young Lohan, Dennis Quaid and the late Natasha Richardson, as well as the famous lizard scene and the impact of the film on modern pop culture.
“It’s one of those things where, living it as intimately as I did, it feels like it was just yesterday. But on the other hand, it was 20 years ago!” Hendrix told TheWrap. “I have so many distinct memories from it but I’m also like, ‘dang where did the time go?!'”
She added that she sees people dressed up as Meredith Blake for Halloween, and said, “I had no idea it was going to impact people in this way. I had no idea you and I would be having this conversation now, 20 years later!”
Not only does she get recognized on the street (still to this day) but she said she receives a lot of fan mail from people sharing their personal story and connection to the film, which was directed by Nancy Meyers.
“One of the greatest moment from the film was when I received a fan letter from this young man in Russia, and he told me he grew up in an orphanage and they had nothing, but they would watch movies every Friday night, and ‘The Parent Trap’ was one of them,” she recalled. “How much joy that movie brought to the kids in the orphanage — I get really teary-eyed and I think, holy s—, that’s the beauty of Natasha [Richardson] and Dennis [Quaid] and this journey they took us on.”
Of course, Hendrix’s most iconic scene depicted her prissy city girl Meredith on hike with the twins (both played by Lohan) and their father — one that ended in a camping trip disaster: A lizard creeps into her mouth.
“What’s funny with Meredith is that she says she’s not a big outdoors type of girl, but me, I’m totally a mountain girl!” she said. “I love lizards and snakes and camping. That whole camping scene was 100 percent acting, and I had to fake that I couldn’t hike and that I didn’t like the lizard. Look, that sequence involved a real lizard, a toy lizard and a computer lizard, so watch and see what you think is what.”
Hendrix said she was the 433rd actress to audition for the role of Meredith Blake, and remembered a few moments from set, specifically involving Lohan.
“I remember Lindsay and I dancing a lot together in the hair and makeup trailer,” she said. “We hugged a lot. We rapped a lot — most of my scenes were with her and Dennis, so we spent a lot of time together. She was a hard worker, but she was still a kid and this business is hard enough so we had an extra sense of making it fun because she was a kid and we didn’t want to burn her out.”
She said she hasn’t connected with Lohan since filming on “The Parent Trap” ended, but she’s ran into Quaid a few times. Of course, the late Natasha Richardson was also an important part of the movie, and Hendrix said she recalled witnessing how loving Richardson’s relationship was with her husband Liam Neeson.
“She was so lovely — she just radiated everywhere she went,” she said. “She actually lit up the room and was so in love with Liam… it was so clear they were deeply in love and that was the real deal. My impression is that she comes across as this perfect mom and woman in the film, and she was very much like that in real life. I wanted her to be my mom!”
“The Parent Trap” will have a lasting impact on generations to come, said Hendrix.
“It’s always there in the culture somewhere,” she said. “It has this magic to do with the perfect storm, with Disney, Nancy Meyers, the cast, the script, the style, the location — capturing the remake of a classic movie for a whole new generation, capturing a universal theme of finding your tribe… It’s a wild phenomenon.”