On Friday, shortly after announcing that Disney would be rebooting the series that launched her into stardom on the studio’s forthcoming streaming service Disney+, the actress spoke with PEOPLE about her excitement for the new project.
Duff, 31, who previously teased a revival in December, says she felt like it was “the right time” for the series to make its highly anticipated return, due in part to what stage of life Lizzie and the show’s loyal fans would currently be in.
“The conversations have gone on for a couple of years and the timing just didn’t seem right and now Lizzie is turning 30,” Duff tells PEOPLE. “For me, she was everybody’s best friend and she was there for us … entering your 30s is a really big deal.”
“I think it’s the right time to set back in and have her go along with you in your 30s and all the fun times, and all of the big monumental moments, and all of the challenges that you’re faced with,” she continues.
“I just thought that there was an opportunity there for her to be grown up and for her to be there for women again,” Duff adds.
The original series, which ran from 2001 to 2004 and was created by Terri Minsky, followed 13-year-old Lizzie, who dreamt of being popular in school, as her animated alter ego represented her true feelings.
The show was later made into a 2003 film, The Lizzie McGuire Movie, where Lizzie went on a trip of a lifetime to Rome, Italy, following her 8th-grade graduation and got mistaken for an international pop star.
Despite playing Lizzie for multiple years, Duff said she was nervous about revisiting the beloved character and getting back into her headspace.
“I’m not gonna lie: I’m a little intimidated,” she admits to PEOPLE. “I’m like, ‘Where is she in there?’ She is in there; she is me. When I was 13, it was such a big part of me … I just have to tap into that and be very authentic to that.”
“Our lives are very different — she’s not a mother, I am already a mother — but I think that’s what’s exciting, to step into someone else’s world whose a little bit different than your own, but I can’t wait,” Duff explains.
“I can’t wait for her adventures, for her heartbreak, to see her goals and what she’s done,” she adds.
Duff also revealed that they hadn’t started filming the reboot yet, but said she’s been working very closely with Minsky to develop the upcoming series, which will follow Lizzie as a 30-year-old millennial, working as an apprentice to a fancy New York City decorator and navigating life in the Big Apple.
“We toyed around with her being a fashion designer because that’s obviously a big part of the show, but I’m like, ‘I think that’s too obvious,'” Duff shared. “She has a few really cool quirks and her job is really cool but she hasn’t totally found her way and I think that’s part of her journey.”
As for whether her eldest child, 7-year-old son Luca Cruz, will be watching the reboot?
“He got really into it and then he’s like, ‘I’m done,'” Duff admits with a laugh. “I think he’s pretty fascinated to see me so young, not looking the same. He knows that’s his mom but he got over it fast. It’s pretty funny, he’s not there yet.”
“I feel like I need to let him know that this was the show that started it all for me and what’s gonna happen when the second phase of that is happening,” she adds.
Disney announced the exciting news at the D23 Expo convention on Friday, with a surprise appearance from Duff.
Prior to taking the stage, the actress revealed that Lizzie McGuire would be rebooted in a video on her Instagram Stories.
“I am beyond excited. Honestly, I’ve thought about what I would say for quite a few days now, and I don’t really have words,” Duff said in the clip. “It’s crazy, I’ve really missed her.”
“I think now is a great time for her to come back in her 30s. She’s everybody’s best friend and I can’t wait to go on this next chapter with her and I hope everyone is as excited as I am!” she added.
The mom of two also shared another video as she was walking towards the stage and admitted, “I never, ever get nervous, but I’m actually a little bit nervous right now!”
Less than an hour later, Duff posted the announcement on her Instagram, alongside a video of clips from the early 2000s show set to the tune of her song “What Dreams Are Made Of” from The Lizzie McGuire Movie.
“SURPRISE!!! I’ve been trying to contain this excitement for a loooong time while this has been in the works!” Duff wrote.
“I am beyond excited to be home again, back with my girl ♥️…and into her 30’s,” she continued, before adding the hashtags, “#bringbackbutterflyclips #lizziemcguire #thisiswhatdreamsaremadeof #lizzieforpresident #DisneyPlus #D23Expo”
“Also, If you needed yet another reason to get Disney+ ….the #lizziemcguiremovie will be living there!” the star added.
Besides Duff, Lalaine, Adam Lamberg, Jake Thomas, Halle Todd and Robert Carradine also starred in the original Disney Channel series.