While most people that came of age watching Disney’s Lizzie McGuire have fond memories of it, star Hilary Duff was not one of them for a long time. What she’s always recalled, she told Cosmopolitan U.K. in a story published Tuesday, is “isolation... and the pressure of being a role model.”
After all, Duff, now 33, was barely a teenager when she began playing the character in 2001. While her family never depended on her career earnings, being a Disney star was hard work. Duff was homeschooled and her mom was strict in all aspects of her life. When asked if she ever felt compelled to “go off the rails,” Duff said yes.
“It’s not like I didn’t sneak off and party sometimes and get drunk. I definitely did all of those things,” she told the magazine. “But I feel like I’ve always been a well-balanced person, and always had a sense of ‘I don’t want to embarrass myself.’”
She more than survived the show’s three-season run. Afterward, she struggled as she was bullied by an unnamed “handful of girls” and dealt with “a bad relationship with food.” People weren’t interested in hiring her for roles that weren’t Lizzie-like. She had another challenging period after becoming a mom at 24, before her friends were doing so.
“I felt like I was so ready to be a mom. Everyone was like, ‘Oh. My. God. You’re a baby having a baby,’” said Duff, who’s mom to 8-year-old son Luca and daughter Banks, who turns 2 next month. “But I felt like I had done so much and I was so ready for something more and something that was personally mine. But I will say that was one of the loneliest times in my life.”
All the while, she was turning down offers to return to her most famous role.
“They asked me for years and years: ‘Let’s do a reboot, let’s do a reboot,’ and I was like, ‘No, no, no,” Duff said. “Finally, last year, I was like, ‘I feel ready.’”
The revival of the series went into production and completed two episodes. However, filming stopped in January, after Terri Minsky, the creator of the original show and showrunner of the reboot, left the project. Duff issued a statement in which she asked Disney — who planned to offer the series on Disney+ — to move the show over to Hulu to make it more grown up. She told Cosmo that she has faith it will work out.
“There’s still no, like, ‘For sure, this is happening,’ but I think they’re pretty confident that we can make the show that I want, and that they want, for Disney+,” Duff said.
She finds herself actually hoping to return to playing the part she once loathed.
“It just doesn’t annoy me any more when people refer to me as Lizzie McGuire or say that was my biggest role, because it paved the way for all the other roads I’ve been able to take,” she said.
Besides, Duff explained, her world has changed a lot since her teen idol days.
“I’m at such a different place in my life now, being a mother and a wife — it doesn’t weigh on me any more,” Duff said. “I don’t feel like people only see me that way, but [even] when they do, I feel appreciative of it because she was very impactful on so many people’s lives.”
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