Things About Hilary Duff Only Lizzie McGuire Superfans Know

Hilary Duff overwhelmingly captured the attention and affection of millennial fans on the Disney Channel's "Lizzie McGuire" over two decades ago. The series joined "Even Stevens" as a refreshing tween sitcom complete with middle school drama and brother-sister feuds. This was a moment in time before "Hannah Montana" or "High School Musical" or "Camp Rock." In fact, Duff is widely considered the Disney Channel's first pop star, first delighting devoted fans with her debut album "Santa Claus Lane" at the height of her "Lizzie" fame in 2002. 

While promoting "The Lizzie McGuire Movie" in 2003, Duff told reporter Jimmy Carter, "I love working. I have loved [it] since I was a little girl. Like, I did 'The Nutcracker' and I remember being onstage just being like, 'Oh my gosh.' ... I loved the audience." The audience loves her right back. These days, Hilary Duff is thriving in her 30s, particularly on television, and she's just as celebrated now as she was all those years ago. Let's take a look at her accomplishments and personality traits throughout each chapter of her life.

Hilary Duff wanted to follow in her sister's footsteps

On E!'s "Hilary Duff Revealed" special in 2006, sisters Hilary and Haylie Duff shared memories from their childhood. The siblings grew up in the Houston and San Antonio areas of Texas, and Haylie was the first one to take an interest in performing, while Hilary was more into sports initially. Hilary said of her big sis, "She got involved with school plays, and since she did it, I really wanted to do it, as well, just, I think 'cause she's my older sister and I wanted to be just like her." The Duffs were in dance classes when they had the opportunity to audition for a local "Nutcracker" production. Who knew playing a mouse would be such a formative experience for the one and only Hilary Duff?

Hilary also took singing lessons because her mom, Susan Duff, thought they would help her with a speech impediment. Susan was right, and Hilary continued practicing her vocals. "Then I just wanted to keep doing it because I had so much fun. It really opened me up, because I used to be a really shy child, hiding behind my mom's skirts and stuff," Hilary told The Washington Post in 2004, adding, "But this was something I really loved and felt comfortable with, and I started being able to sing in front of people." Haylie and Hilary collaborated many times in the 2000s — musically, theatrically (remember "Material Girls"?), and on "Lizzie McGuire" episodes.

How she won the role of Lizzie McGuire

Lifelong "Lizzie McGuire" fans know Hilary Duff's audition tale like the piece of Hollywood history that it is. A few years after moving to Los Angeles with her mom and sister, Duff had secured a series regular spot on the pilot for a sitcom called "Daddio," but her role was recast. Though this development was upsetting, Duff's next gig was right around the corner. Disney remembered her from previous auditions and invited her to read for a new show called "Lizzie McGuire." Young Hilary didn't quite nail her audition, but she captured the hearts of those who watched her read for the part.

Casting director Robin Lippin shared on E!'s "Hilary Duff Revealed" that as many as 500 young women were considered for the role of Lizzie. Executive producer Stan Rogow said a few of the competing actors were Sara Paxton, Lindsay Lohan, and Hallee Hirsch. "Hilary was just so cute and so likable and so real that even though the other actors may have had more training and more work and stuff, we all just sort of kept on gravitating [toward her]." Though the pilot wasn't the smoothest, acting coach Troy Rowland helped the star and her castmates hone their skills. Duff reportedly earned $15,000 for each episode.

Why Hilary Duff left Lizzie behind

In an alternate universe, "Lizzie McGuire" would've continued on both television and the silver screen. ABC was interested in Lizzie's life as a high schooler, and Disney tried to work out a sequel to "The Lizzie McGuire Movie." But agreements couldn't be made with Hilary Duff's camp.

In a 2003 Entertainment Weekly interview, mom Susan Duff didn't hold back her disappointment. "Disney thought they'd be able to bully us into accepting whatever offer they wanted to make, and they couldn't," she claimed. A supposed source with Disney intel told the outlet, "Duff's lawyer played a hand and didn't expect the deal to go off the table. He misstepped greatly." Meanwhile, the president of Buena Vista Motion Pictures Group believed that Disney had made a good offer.

Hilary was all for her mom's participation in her career, but fans still wonder what adventures would have been waiting for Lizzie in high school. A "Dateline" reporter asked Hilary (via NBC News), "You had a very successful run going with 'Lizzie McGuire' and then you broke away from Disney. What happened?" The then-15-year-old explained, "It was never like that. ... We did 65 episodes and we did the 'Lizzie McGuire Movie' in Rome and it was exciting. But things just didn't work out for the second one." She continued, "They kind of put it out there that it was all about the money, why we weren't going to make a sequel, and it really wasn't about that."

Hilary Duff found her voice in pop music

"I get asked all the time, 'Do you feel like you're missing out?' I don't know anything else, so how do I know if I'm missing out?" Hilary Duff told The Washington Post when she was 16. "I love my life and I get to travel all around the world." The actor entered the music scene during her time at Disney — covering "The Tiki Tiki Tiki Room" for the first-ever "Disneymania" CD, wowing her fans with "I Can't Wait" (also a cover), and finally releasing her debut record "Santa Claus Lane."

Oddly enough, an oral history of Duff's sophomore album "Metamorphosis" was published on MySpace in 2013 for the CD's 10th anniversary. Duff, a new mom at the time, contributed to the feature, along with the masterminds who worked on the album. Her former manager, Andre Recke, recalled, "'Lizzie McGuire' was Disney's franchise. ... So for us starting out with her music, it was important that the kids get to know her as Hilary Duff, and not as Lizzie." 

Duff admitted that she was a novice when recording the tracks at age 14. Influenced by her favorite pop music, she would share personal stories in meetings with producers. "I feel like I was really connected to the content. I always chose my music, but not really being an artist yet, I wasn't a big writer," she said. Luckily, Kara DioGuardi and The Matrix were featured writers. Duff said of DioGuardi, who co-wrote "Come Clean," "She really helped me find my voice."

Rockstar Hilary needed to be herself

Throughout her teen years, Hilary Duff became known for the theatrical blockbusters she starred in — "The Lizzie McGuire Movie," "Cheaper by the Dozen," and "A Cinderella Story" are a few of her finest. It's hard to imagine her having one moment of rest in the 2000s, between her movies and her music. She dug into her edgy side with the strains of "Fly" and "The Getaway" on her self-titled third album in 2004. The single "Wake Up" kept her Disney Channel fans engaged in 2006.

Appearing on The Cut's "In Her Shoes" podcast in March 2022, Duff recalled, "I had so much responsibility to be a role model. That was a lot of weight, and it was like, perfectly fine for a little while, until it wasn't." One mom got real personal with the star when Duff was touring at 18 or 19 years old, she recounted. "Whatever you do, don't change. Don't change. Just stay the same," the woman pleaded. Duff retreated to her dressing room and thought, "Don't change? Don't ever change? I'm 18. I'm doing nothing but changing! I'm different!"

In 2007, she delivered "Dignity," a mature album with lyrics about her family struggles. With Kara DioGuardi, Duff co-wrote most of the record's songs, addressing her parents' separation in "Gypsy Woman" and "Stranger." She was also going through a breakup with Joel Madden at the time. Though Duff has always paid attention to her public image, she told The Standard-Times, "What am I hiding for? I think it's easier to open yourself up through music."

Hilary Duff has an entire indie film catalogue

After the international "Dignity Tour," Hilary Duff sought normalcy in her life and segued from singing back to acting. "I kind of said to myself, 'I'm tired of doing that. I need a break,'" she told HuffPost in 2011. The star went to New Jersey to film "According to Greta," which marked her first time traveling for a movie gig on her own. Duff spent her quiet moments in a rental apartment, complete with cat sculptures. 

She explained to the outlet, "I grew up in people's living rooms, and so they know me as this little blonde, perfectly-relatable girl. And that's fine. But kind of, to make that transition, I felt it was important to take a step back and get out of people's everyday of seeing me all the time." Duff added, "I tried to do that, and I chose projects here and there just to keep myself busy."

Many of those projects were indie films, as Duff told Us Weekly when she posed with Lauren Conrad and Taylor Swift for the cover in 2008. In addition to her role as Greta, Duff was promoting "Stay Cool" and "Safety Glass" (which became "What Goes Up"), while T-Swift was getting ready to release a little album called "Fearless." Duff's indie work continued for many years, but she notably went mainstream again with a 2009 arc on "Gossip Girl." She also starred in a cute ABC Family (now Freeform) movie called "Beauty & the Briefcase" the following year.

She became a mom when she was 24

As she explained to Grazia, Hilary Duff once paused her demanding career. "I didn't know how to cook or start a washing machine. I didn't even know what I liked and what I didn't. ... Taking that break helped me become the humble woman I am today." 

Cosmopolitan revealed in late 2007 that she was dating Mike Comrie, who played pro ice hockey. They were on the same flight to Idaho for a vacation with mutual friends when the couple first connected. After their 2010 Santa Barbara wedding, Hilary was expecting their son, Luca, in 2011. Her sister, Haylie Duff, painted a Christmas present on the pop star's pregnant belly during the holidays (via E! News), and Luca was born in March 2012. After becoming a mom, Hilary had some television and voiceover roles here and there but condensed her acting schedule. 

Even though she and Comrie finalized their divorce in 2016, they reportedly co-parent peacefully. When asked about her real life compared to her role on "How I Met Your Father," Hilary told Grazia in 2022, "I had Luca with my ex-husband and we talk about it often. I like to tell him about how I met his father, about the good times we spent together, about the greatest joy when I found out I was pregnant and how his father and I coped with pregnancy." She added, "It is a very sweet thing. As adults we forget how nice it was to hear our parents' stories when we were children."

2014 was a huge year for Hilary Duff

In 2014, Hilary Duff announced on Twitter that she had a new record deal, and she released the singles "Chasing the Sun" and "All About You" ahead of her 2015 album "Breathe In. Breathe Out." As the pop star shared updates on social media from her recording process, she also announced her return to television. "Have to say woke up this morning and feel soo excited to be back on TV! Such exciting news @YoungerTV!! On @TVLand got picked up!" tweeted Duff.

Created by Darren Star of "Sex and the City," "Younger" was about Liza Miller, a mother in her 40s (played by Sutton Foster), returning to the workforce and lying about her age for better chances at finding a job. Duff portrayed Liza's twentysomething co-worker, book editor Kelsey Peters. As a series regular for all of the show's seven seasons, she made friends with Foster and other co-stars, including Molly Bernard, who played the spirited Lauren Heller. Bernard is so close with Duff that she co-officiated the icon's wedding ceremony in 2019, is godmother to Duff's daughters, and even assisted the mom with the birth of Mae in 2021, per E! News.

Duff and Bernard spoke with MTV News in 2017 about Kelsey's similarities to Lizzie McGuire. "[Lizzie] was the relatable girl that everyone wants to be friends with, and that's who Kelsey is," Duff explained, noting that while Kelsey is very successful, "I think Lizzie McGuire would be an intern still, like, dropping papers all over the floor."

Starting the Lizzie McGuire reboot was 'emotional'

It's not unusual for Hilary Duff to send the internet into a frenzy. Her fans are especially quick to celebrate milestones in her career, including the news in August 2019 that she was reviving the character of Lizzie McGuire. Duff stepped onstage at Disney's D23 convention to announce the "Lizzie McGuire" reboot, planned as a Disney+ original about the character's life in her 30s. The star told Elle that year, "I feel like people are waiting for this, and I hope we give them exactly what they want. The show feels like a great direction for me, and the first few episodes are quite emotional. Being 30 is emotional." Like any good reboot should, Duff hoped the new "Lizzie McGuire" would be its own entity but still give fans some nostalgic moments.

As any fan knows, two episodes of this reboot were filmed before unnamed Disney executives reevaluated it and ultimately pulled the plug. Duff was transparent as she and Disney tried to keep the project afloat throughout creative changes. "We're on a really good track, and I think everything's looking good. ... The conversations with Disney were like, 'Keep going.' It was all very positive, but confusing," she said on Whitney Cummings' "Good For You" podcast in September 2020.

Unfortunately, Duff shared on Instagram a few months later that the reboot wouldn't be moving forward. These days, she's busy starring in Hulu's "How I Met Your Father" as Sophie. 

She wrote her first children's book on her phone

Hilary Duff isn't afraid of a challenge, and in 2010, she published her first young adult novel. "Elixir" was co-written by Duff and Elise Allen. Though celebrity authors are reputed to sometimes lean on their collaborators, Allen gave Duff plenty of credit in an interview with The Globe and Mail. "Even if I went away and wrote a page, it funneled through [Hilary Duff]. She would sit there and go through it. 'No, I think this word should be this,' 'This should be this.' She had such a strong sense of what she wants and it's great," Allen said, revealing that she and Duff would write together in the star's Los Angeles residence. The duo re-teamed for two follow-ups, "Devoted" and "True."

In 2021, Duff appeared on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" in one of her blue-hair eras to promote her first children's book, "My Little Brave Girl." The story was inspired by the bravery shown by her daughter, Banks, as a baby while Duff was going back to work. "I was just jotting some stuff down in the notes of my phone and holding her and loving on her," she explained. "And I walk into our tiny little bedroom in Brooklyn and I'm like, 'I think I wrote a children's book.'"

Hilary Duff loves to give back

Many celebs have a cause or two, but Hilary Duff has been consistent in supporting charities that mean something to her. She told TV Guide in 2005 that her mother, Susan Duff, threw annual Christmas parties and asked that guests arrive with baby diapers and formula in lieu of presents. Hilary said, "She has always had a very hands-on attitude about giving back and helping. So when I got a voice and people knew who I was, I thought it was a really important way to get people to [do the same]." 

As a young adult, the singer-actor helped start the Blessings in a Backpack charity. While visiting students in the Detroit area, Hilary told local reporters, "I think I was shocked with the amount of kids that are going hungry on the weekends or that are worrying and thinking about when their next meal is gonna come." She stated that over half of public school children were signed up for free and reduced lunch at the time.

Since then, Hilary has supported a dog rescue organization, Walgreens' Red Nose Day, and the efforts of Baby2Baby, among other projects. Perhaps her desire to give back also stems from the star's work ethic. "My mom used to tell me when I was growing up, 'Hilary, do the most you can do in one day, not the least you can do,'" the actor told Cosmopolitan. As she explained to Walgreens in May 2022, Duff is raising her kids to have awareness and take action to help those in need.

How Hilary Duff met her husband

Hilary Duff met musician and songwriter Matthew Koma while collaborating with him on her "Breathe In. Breathe Out." album in the 2010s. The star worked with many music industry legends. Sure, her Ed Sheeran selfie is impressive, but there was clearly a connection with Koma, who sings in Winnetka Bowling League. "Happy Birthday to the beautiful and well-shoed @HilaryDuff – may this year bring you happiness and bacon. Same thing," Koma tweeted in 2015. Duff responded, "@MatthewKoma you know bacon is most important."

While co-starring in "Younger," Duff spent part of each year living in New York City, and she and Koma had an on-and-off relationship for a while. They welcomed daughter Banks in fall 2018, Koma proposed to Duff in 2019, and their fairytale wedding took place at their Los Angeles home that December.

Duff later shared adorable details about Koma's proposal with Vogue. On an evening stroll in the park, he gave Duff an illustrated notebook she'd never forget. The actor shared, "It's our whole entire story mapped out for us to refer back to as we get older and for our kids to know, which is amazing. I get to the very last page, and there's a little piece that I have to lift up and my ring was inside." Duff added, "It was so sweet. It was really special and really simple, which is very much how we are and how we operate. Then it started raining, and it was perfect."

Hilary Duff prioritizes female friendships

Hilary Duff's mom crew might give you FOMO. These L.A. ladies include Mandy Moore, Meghan Trainor, Ashley Tisdale, chef Gaby Dalkin, and several others. Moore, who has famously hosted her gal pals for music lessons with their babies, talked to InStyle about Duff in May 2022, saying, "[Hilary] and Matt have become really close friends with my husband and I. ... We had babies at the same time and she, being the super-mom that she is, formed a cool mom club. Somehow, I got invited into it and it's the best. I've made so many wonderful friends." Though the "This Is Us" star couldn't join them, many of the women donned matching white sweatsuits (with "Mother" monograms) for a summer retreat at the Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa that July. They threw Moore a sweet baby shower a couple months later.

Of course, Duff's bestie of two decades is "The Walking Dead's" Alanna Masterson. "20 birthdays later. I love you @hilaryduff," Masterson wrote on Instagram for Duff's 35th. The "Lizzie McGuire" star returned the love on Masterson's birthday, writing, "I LOVE YOU SO MUCH. ... I don't know how I would have survived my teens-20's-and now 30's without you."

On the "In Her Shoes" podcast, The Cut's editor-in-chief, Lindsay Peoples Wagner, observed that Duff's life and work both reflect strong female friendships. The singer-actor expressed her appreciation for the women in her life, explaining, "I feel like when you have those good female friendships, you have to hold onto them. You have to deeply sit and think about them and be good to one another."