Busted: Lindsay Lohan Sues Makers of ‘Grand Theft Auto V’
Rockstar Games’ Grand Theft Auto series is known in part for its tongue-in-cheek take on pop culture. Each game is packed with parodies, jokes, and thinly veiled versions of fictional characters and, occasionally, real people. For actress Lindsay Lohan, the ribbing went a little too far in Rockstar’s most recent entry in the series, Grand Theft Auto V.
The actress claims Rockstar crossed the line by including a character who she claims bears a too-close resemblance to her. To make it right, she’s suing Rockstar’s parent company, Take-Two Interactive, for using her image and creating a character based on her without her permission. The damages she seeks are unspecified.
If any video game is a high profile affair, it’s Grand Theft Auto V, which was released in September for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, and has sold over 30 million copies worldwide. The game is slated for release later this year on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows PC.
The GTA V character at the center of the lawsuit is an actress named Lacey Jonas, who appears only briefly in an optional side-mission in the game. The character shows up at random as you drive around the fictionalized city of Los Santos, and tells your character she’s having trouble with aggressive paparazzi. If you choose, you can drive her home, during which a conversation takes place that suggests she’s extremely famous and probably has an eating disorder. You can watch a video of the whole scene here.
The game’s promotional materials also depict a cartoon version of a young blond woman in a bikini flashing a peace sign and holding a cell phone — a shot that bears a striking similarity to an existing image of Lohan. Here are the two images side-by-side.
According to the papers Lohan filed in a Manhattan court Wednesday, “The portraits of the Plaintiff (Lohan) incorporated her image, likeness, clothing, outfits, Plaintiff’s clothing line products, ensemble in the form of hats, hair style, sunglasses, jean shorts worn by the Plaintiff that were for sale to the public at least two years” before the game was released.
The game also features the hotel Chateau Marmont in West Hollywood, “a place where the plaintiff once lived and often frequents,” according to the suit. It’s a place Lohan briefly lived in 2012, during which time she allegedly amassed over $46,000 in unpaid bills. The hotel has reportedly banned her from the establishment.
The court papers say that Lohan is “recognized in social media and has been a celebrity actor, regularly depicted in television, tabloids, blogs, movies, fashion related magazines, talk shows for the past 15 years.”
This is not the first time Lohan has had dealings with the law. The troubled former child star has been arrested for driving while intoxicated numerous times, accused stealing jewelry, and spent numerous stints in rehab, often in lieu of jail time. Here’s a timeline of her arrests.
Nor is it the first time the makers of Grand Theft Auto have been involved with the law. Earlier this year, a star of the Mob Wives reality show sued Take-Two for a similar reason. There’s even a Wikipedia page dedicated to the controversies surrounding the previous game in the series, Grand Theft Auto IV.
The outcome of the Grand Theft Auto V lawsuit remains to be seen, but it’s unlikely to put much of a dent in the massive success of the series. The games are clearly designed to push buttons, so it should come as no surprise to Take-Two that some of those buttons push back.