March 1, 2012 at 8:50 AM ET
Lindsay Lohan wants to make amends: For her wild partying, for her very public arrests and court appearances, for -- at the age of 25 -- needing to make a comeback in an industry that once considered her a promising young talent. But when she sat down with TODAY's Matt Lauer in an exclusive interview Thursday, she noted that having fallen so far so early in life might turn out to have a silver lining.
"I'd rather it be now and not have to deal with it -- go through it later," she said. "It's not that I don't -- I regret the choices that I've made, but I'm grateful for where I am today, because of them. I don't need to see any more negative stuff. I don't need to put myself in those places any more."
During the interview Lohan was well-spoken and composed, answering Lauer's questions thoughtfully on a number of topics, including what she learned from her community service spent working in the L.A. County Morgue last year.
"The two women that I work with there have been so wonderful to me. I've learned so much from them.... It's been a learning experience. I'm grateful that I've learned from it. It's helped me," she said.
And, she admitted, "It had to come to that. I needed to experience it for whatever reason there is. And I'm grateful that I've learned from it. It's helped me.... It was humbling."
She's looking forward to her March 3 hosting slot on "Saturday Night Live" ("I want to poke fun at myself") and told Lauer that almost anything will go in terms of sketches ... though she did speak to her attorney about not being disrespectful to the judge who presided over her case. "I've asked if certain things would be inappropriate or off-limits," she explained.
They also brushed by her romantic life, which she says is not occupied at the moment -- and she's fine with that.
"I want to focus on me. And I want to focus on work," she said.
Life seems to be on the upswing for Lohan -- her role as Elizabeth Taylor, "SNL," getting the all clear from the judicial system -- and undoubtedly many do wish her well. But as Lauer mentioned, many will also expect that Lindsay 2.0 can't possibly last. "How do you feel when you know there are doubters out there like that?" he asked.
"If I harped on that and only focused on the negative and the people that doubted me, then I might be right back where they think I'll be," she said. "But that's not what I want for me.... I don't want to go back to that place. I want to move forward with my life.... I want to keep growing and I want to keep growing in the right ways."