Hilary Duff on Being Compared to Lizzie McGuire: 'Was Just Playing Myself' and 'I Love Her'

·3 min read
hilary duff
hilary duff

Presley Ann/Getty Images; The Disney Channel

For Hilary Duff, playing Lizzie McGuire was all about being herself.

The 34-year-old actress, who was 13 when Lizzie McGuire premiered in January 2001, opened up about her special connection to the title character on the hit Disney Channel show in an interview with Bustle, published Wednesday.

"I was too young to do a character dive on Lizzie," she says. "I think I was just playing myself. And I really related to that girl. She was me, and I was her, and that was that."

Despite being typecast as Lizzie-like following the role, Duff later added, "Now I'm like, 'I love her.' She's the greatest. She made everyone feel good."

Lizzie McGuire ran for two seasons on Disney Channel between 2001 and 2004. A spin-off film called The Lizzie McGuire movie hit theaters in May 2003.

RELATED: Hilary Duff Reveals What Would Have Happened on the Now-Canceled Lizzie McGuire Revival Series

hilary duff
hilary duff

Amy Sussman/Getty Images

After her rise to stardom, Duff told Bustle that finding work elsewhere wasn't all that simple, as she was constantly viewed as her former Disney character. In some instances, the actress recalled being considered "too famous" or "too sweet" for certain roles.

"I was like, 'I'm me! I'm Hilary, not that person. That's a made-up person,'" Duff said in the interview. "It was a desire to be seen as a person outside of a character. By the time I was 18, I was like, 'If I hear that name [Lizzie McGuire] one more time!' "

"Young people weren't taken seriously [as actors]," she continued. "Now it's like, if you're not 19, there is no way you're going to break. If you're 30, you're too old. And it's amazing and I'm so happy for them. But when I was coming up, I was really trying to break the mold… It was a really challenging time."

RELATED: Hilary Duff Didn't Know Cadet Kelly Resonated with LGBTQ Community: 'If It Helped Anybody, I Hope So'

In the last 20 years since Lizzie McGuire lit up Disney Channel, the actress added that she's had plenty of time to reflect on her close connection with the character.

"The lines get so blurry between me and her, and I think they are for the world, still. And they probably always will be," the How I Met Your Father star told Bustle. "I think just accepting that has brought me a lot of peace. That doesn't mean I don't have a backbone, and I don't have a drive, and I don't have a vision. I have all of those things."

hilary duff lizzie mcguire
hilary duff lizzie mcguire

Krista Niles/AP/Shutterstock

While there had long been discussions of spinoffs in the time since the series wrapped, one starring Duff and the original cast was eventually confirmed in 2019 with Disney+. But shortly after it was announced, Duff revealed in December 2020 that it was not moving forward.

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Two episodes were filmed, and Duff opened up about the proposed premise of the program earlier this week in an interview with Vogue.

"My character was moving back home with her parents because she caught her soon-to-be fiancé cheating on her," she told the magazine. "She was falling flat on her face at the moment and being like, 'I need to pivot because everything that I thought was wasn't, and I'm turning 30. What the f---?' "

Asked whether she ever thought about leaking the two filmed episodes, Duff said: "I would be lying if I didn't say I didn't have those thoughts a few times. But I wouldn't."

Lizzie McGuire is available to stream on Disney+.