The 78-year-old actress, set to star in Downton Abbey, made the comments in an interview with The Guardian.
MacLaine revealed that she and Lohan were on the verge of starring in a movie together, but after a number of meetings, those plans were scrapped.
She said of Lohan: "You know, her conversation was 90% about her upbringing. Her parents. Now, she's also a master manipulator, and it's not hard to figure out I'm interested in all that stuff, so she was maybe using it.
"I can't advise any of the young ones, because I don't know what their background was, but I would suggest that anyone who wants to be famous more than anything - there's a real problem."
When asked whether a fame-hungry person can succeed if they possess genuine talent, the veteran star said: "Well, that's her. But... too much damage as a child."
Lohan has been arrested and charged for shoplifting and substance abuse.