The Incredible Transformation Of Hilary Duff

Hilary Duff became a household name thanks to her portrayal of the titular character on the Disney Channel show “Lizzie McGuire.” Unsurprisingly, from the moment the iconic series first aired in 2001, it changed the young actor’s life completely. “That weekend, I went to go meet my friends at the mall, and I literally had to hide in a janitor’s closet,” Duff recalled to BuzzFeed.

While many of us know her from “Lizzie McGuire,” Duff has always been busy. She started acting professionally when she was just a kid, and she’s shown no signs of slowing down since. “I have worked my whole life,” she explained to Redbook.

From actor to author, from musician to mother, Duff has done it all. And her fans have been with her ever since she first appeared on Disney Channel. “I really have amazing fans that pay attention to what I say and have stuck it out with me through a very long career,” Duff told Elle.

Over the years, we’ve all seen her go through a complete metamorphosis — pun very much intended. Here is the incredible transformation of Hilary Duff.

Hilary Duff followed in her big sister's footsteps

Crazy enough, Hilary Duff’s young heart was not set on acting — at least, not at first. “I didn’t really want anything to do with it,” she admitted to NBC News. In fact, it was older sister Haylie Duff who truly inspired her to get into show business. 

Unlike Hilary, Haylie had stars in her eyes at an early age. According to NBC News, when Hilary was still in grade school, their mother-slash-manager decided it would be best to move to Hollywood so Haylie could try to break into the entertainment industry. The younger Duff daughter headed to the West Coast with her mom and sister, while the patriarch of the family stayed in Texas.  Watching her sister was what introduced her to acting on-screen — so she decided to give it a try. “We started modeling and getting involved in commercials,” she told NBC News. “And I fell in love with it, too.”

In 1998, Duff booked the lead in the movie “Casper Meets Wendy.” Though it was her very first film, it took her acting skills to an entirely new level. “I had to do the whole, like, movie to nobody, like to a ghost, because Casper was all put in post later,” she explained to PopSugar. “So I got pretty good at, like, talking to myself.” Little did the 10-year-old know at the time that the world would soon be seeing a lot more of her on-screen.

Early on, Hilary Duff almost quit acting

Two years after making her debut on the big screen, Hilary Duff landed a role in a television sitcom called “Daddio.” “It’s kind of like a ‘Seventh Heaven,'” she explained at the time to Houston’s KPRC-TV (via Texas Archive of the Moving Image). The young actor was excited to be cast in the series, but when the pilot was picked up by NBC, the network decided they wanted an entirely new star. It was then that Duff was dropped, and she began debating whether acting was something she should continue to pursue. In fact, “I was, like, wanting to quit,” she recounted to Entertainment Weekly.

There were slow spells where the young star was just waiting to be cast. Rejection was something she had to deal with on a consistent basis, too. Instead of heading back to her home state of Texas, her manager had one last audition lined up for, and it’s a good thing she decided to go. While leaving Hollywood altogether seemed like the best option at the time, looking back, we can all agree that we’re glad she stuck it out. “I had one audition left, and it was ‘Lizzie McGuire,” she told EW.

Lizzie McGuire changed Hilary Duff's life

When casting directors at Disney caught sight of Hilary Duff in 2001, they offered her a chance to play the leading role in what would become one of their most beloved series to date. “I got really lucky with ‘Lizzie McGuire,'” she said in Entrepreneur. “I booked that opportunity at a really young age, and it established a great platform for me.”

Though the series only lasted two seasons, its impact went far beyond the screen. Lizzie McGuire’s face appeared on all sorts of merchandise like books, dolls, clothing, a record deal, a movie, and more. The role catapulted Duff into superstardom and had other casting directors watching her every move. “It prepared me for so much,” she told Good Morning America. Yet, while playing Lizzie seemed to be the role of a lifetime, there was still something else entirely on the young star’s mind.

Hilary Duff entered the music scene

Hilary Duff continued to follow her sister’s lead. As she shared with Entertainment Weekly in 2003, she realized she wanted to break into the music industry after Haylie Duff joined a band. However, it was something she was a bit hesitant about at first. “I don’t want people to say, ‘Oh she’s in movies and she’s in a TV show, so now she thinks she can be a singer,'” she told NBC News at the time. “You know, I don’t want that to happen. I want them to be able to really see me as a singer and as an actress.”

After making a Christmas album, Hilary released an album that could be played year-round. When it came to naming it, it was a no-brainer. “We decided to call the album ‘Metamorphosis’ because it’s a big change for me,” she explained in a behind-the-scenes video. She went on to say that the record is “a good way for everybody to get to know more about Hilary.” Fans were loving the real Hilary, too: “Metamorphosis” ended up being one of the top selling albums of 2003.

As Hilary began touring the country and continuing to star in other movies simultaneously, it seemed there was nothing that would be slowing down this young star. After all, she was just getting started. “I’m 15,” she said in Entertainment Weekly that year. “So I have lots of energy and I’m not tired yet!”

After being typecast for years, Hilary Duff took a break

After starring in major movies such as “A Cinderella Story,” “Agent Cody Banks,” and “Cheaper by the Dozen,” Hilary Duff decided it was time to tackle some more serious roles. However, nobody wanted to hire her for that. “I would get to producer callback and they’d be like, ‘She’s so great and she gave us the best reading and blah blah blah, but she’s Hilary Duff,” she told Cosmopolitan.

While she was making millions of dollars from each of the movies she was starring in, Duff was upset that she wasn’t being taken seriously as an actor. “I definitely went through big frustrations of being like, ‘Why can I not get a shot at being someone else?'” she admitted.

Between the repetitive roles she was asked to play and the constant rejection she was hearing regarding serious roles, Duff decided to do something that many actors who are at the top of their game never do: She decided to step away from the spotlight. “Taking that break, I think, really helped me step back from the whole ‘Hilary Duff’ kind of thing and prioritize,” she said on a 2016 episode of “The Love Bomb” podcast. And as she told The Hollywood Interview, that break also helped her figure out how she wanted audiences everywhere to see her in the future.

Hilary Duff moved on to starring in independent movies

While Hilary Duff was spending time away from the big screen, she was debating how she was going to go from Lizzie McGuire to a serious leading lady. “It was really important at the time to come up with a plan of how I’m going to be happy,” she explained to The Hollywood Interview. “How I’m going to get the projects I want; how I’m going [to] be perceived the way that I want, you know, and to kind of break the mold.” Starring in independent films seemed to be the way to go. “There’s a lot of freedom, a lot less pressure, a lot of time to play,” she said.

In 2008, she booked her first gig in an independent movie called “War, Inc.” Starring alongside John Cusack, Duff got the chance to get in touch with her wild side as a character called Yonica Babyyeah. Though it was an exciting challenge to tackle a role that was so much different than herself — or the Lizzie McGuire we all know — she was terrified to hear what her fans had to say. Eventually, “I just got to a point of saying, ‘This is acting, and I’m an actor, and it’s a challenge, and I want to go for it,” she told the AP. 

Duff also took on roles in the independent films “According to Greta” and “The Haunting of Sharon Tate.”

Hilary Duff added author to her long list of titles

In 2010, Hilary Duff told CosmoGirl (via Seventeen) that she’d “been playing with the idea for a few years now” of dipping her toe in the literary world. The wheels were set in motion when, as she recalled to The Hollywood Interview, she was approached by an agent who asked if she would be interested in writing a book. “I’ve always felt like my job, and the things that I’ve done are very much like storytelling, and so I knew that I could come up with something,” she explained. Once she got a co-writer on board, “Elixir” was born.

The story follows a young photojournalist who starts seeing the same mysterious man show up in all her photographs. In true Lizzie McGuire fashion, a love story ensues — and so did a sequel called “Devoted.” “It was much easier the second time around,” Duff said in The Hollywood Interview. Naturally, it ended up being a trilogy. She released a third book in 2014 called “True.” While it may have seemed like a breeze for the young star, she told BuzzFeed four years later that writing a book series “was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.”

In 2021, inspiration struck again. She released a picture book dedicated to her daughters called “My Little Brave Girl.”

The television star tied the knot with an ice hockey star

While Hilary Duff has been linked to Aaron Carter and Frankie Muniz throughout her career, she had an even deeper connection with professional ice hockey player Mike Comrie. In 2010, the two tied the knot.

For Duff, stepping outside of the industry to find her soulmate seemed like the way to go. As Cosmopolitan noted, she hit it off with Comrie after they first crossed paths on a plane. Their relationship saw many flights after that, as they split time between the United States and Canada. “I love men who have a lot going on in their lives, like I do,” she told the publication.

While they both led busy lives, the Venn diagram of their personalities did not overlap too much. “Mike and I really are opposites,” she told the magazine. Yet, she began to believe that opposites really do attract.

Hilary Duff went from movie set to motherhood

Two years into Hilary Duff’s marriage to Mike Comrie, she gave birth to a baby boy named Luca Cruz Comrie. “I felt my heart [grow] the second I met him,” she told Parade.

Duff was 24 years old at the time, taking a break from movie sets to enjoy her journey into motherhood. At times, it was hard for the actor to adapt. “I will say that was one of the loneliest times in my life,” she said in Cosmopolitan. She was the first of her friends to give birth, so while they were wanting to discuss their dating lives with Duff, this new mom couldn’t relate to anything other than changing diapers.

She joined a few mommy and me classes in order to make some new friends, and her confidence began to soar. “Once you get over that and you do find yourself again, you have the biggest thing under your belt that nobody can take away from you,” she said on The Motherly Podcast.

Hilary Duff got divorced

Hilary Duff had to deal with her parents’ divorce when she was only a teen, and as she told Cosmopolitan, the split “was really hard” on her. In 2015, she found herself going through this heartbreak again. This time, however, it was with her own marriage. After five years of marriage, Duff and Mike Comrie decided to call it quits.

Though they no longer saw eye to eye as partners, they both had their son in mind the entire time. “It was a big step to take, and it was a lot of considering a little human,” she said on The Love Bomb podcast. Duff and Comrie continue to successfully co-parent to this day — even including each other in blended family holidays.

Though Duff has never come clean on why the two settled for a divorce, she’s happy with how their relationship has turned out. “I wouldn’t choose anyone else to coparent with,” she told Cosmopolitan. “We are really good friends and care a lot about each other.”

Hilary Duff landed another long-term role on television

In the middle of the dissolution of her relationship, Hilary Duff recalled in Cosmopolitan, she received an unexpected offer for a role in a television show called “Younger.” As exciting as it was to be given another opportunity to star in a TV series, Duff wasn’t so sure about it. “My personal life was in transit with my first husband, we were about to get divorced, I was super focused on my son… I definitely was not looking for another role!” she admitted. “I wasn’t auditioning or even in touch with my agents.”

Regardless, she decided to tackle this brand new role. Playing confident and cool lit industry professional Kelsey Peters has been entirely different than that of awkward high schooler Lizzie McGuire, and audiences have taken to the character. “I think that my fans have grown up with me,” she told Paste. “Maybe this is expanding my audience a little bit, which is great.” Her portrayal of Peters has earned her two People’s Choice Award nominations and two Teen Choice Award nominations. As Lizzie McGuire would say, “This is what dreams are made of!”

Hilary Duff became a businesswoman

After seemingly re-entering the industry, Hilary Duff was more poised and prepared than ever to take her career to the next level. “After having someone else make all of my business decisions, do all of my negotiating, it was time for me to grow up and be an entrepreneur,” she told Entrepreneur. Over the years, she’s slowly shifted her career from the big screen into the world of business.

When she was just a teenager, Duff was a superstar in the eyes of Disney Channel fans, and she sure capitalized on that. As Forbes recalled, she first created her own fashion line all the way back in the ’90s called Stuff by Hilary Duff. She later moved into young adult fashion with Femme for DKNY. She’s since designed her own eyewear, organic diapers, cosmetics, mommy and me line, and has even invested in other companies to help build them up. Duff told the publication, “My intention is always to support the small business, the female business, the Black-owned business, the ethical business.” 

Matthew Koma and Hilary Duff fell for each other

The real life Lizzie McGuire does have a love story with a happy ending. This “Sparks” singer saw sparks flying when she sat down with music producer Matthew Koma in 2015. He had previously written some songs that she was interested in adding to her break-up album “Breathe In. Breathe Out.” As soon they began working together, they instantly became interested in each other, too.

Duff and Koma made their official debut as a couple on the red carpet in 2017. “I got a really nice guy,” Duff told E! News. “He’s so great. My mom was at Matt’s birthday and she’s like, ‘I just love him, I love him so much, he’s the best!’ I’m like, ‘I’m here, I exist you know.”

Koma and Duff welcomed a daughter named Banks Violet Bair in 2018. After that, they threw an intimate wedding ceremony in their own backyard. The second time around, Duff wasn’t worried about their reception being a big ordeal. “Our wedding isn’t over-the-top ‘wedding-y’—it’s more understated,” she said in Vogue. “And for me, that’s more powerful.” Two years later, they had a second baby girl named Mae James Bair. 

As far as their professional relationship — there aren’t any plans to make an album together anytime soon. However, it would be an easy thing for Duff to accomplish considering her partner is a music producer. “He’s so supportive and talented,” she told Elle.

The world of reboots and revivals called to Hilary Duff

Fans flipped their lids in 2019 when word got out that Hilary Duff would be playing Lizzie McGuire again on a Disney+ reboot. The character would be 30 years old, making her around the same age as many of the Millennial-aged fans who watched “Lizzie McGuire” in the early ’00s. Alas, it sounds like Disney wasn’t excited about airing a more mature show. “I’d be doing a disservice to everyone by limiting the realities of a 30 year old’s journey to live under the ceiling of a PG rating,” Duff told fans on Instagram. “It’s important to me that just as her experiences as a preteen/teenager navigating life were authentic, her next chapters are equally as real and relatable.” With that, the “Lizzie McGuire” reboot officially got the boot.

Fortunately for fans, Duff’s got some other exciting projects coming down the pike. In 2020, Variety reported that a “Younger” spin-off centered around her character was in the works. And when a “Gossip Girl” reboot was announced, Duff was onboard for that too. “I would love to make a cameo,” she shared with Elle.

In April 2021, word got out that Duff would be appearing in a “How I Met Your Mother” spin-off. “I’ve been incredibly lucky in my career to play some wonderful characters,” she said in a statement (via Variety). “And I’m looking forward to taking on the role of Sophie.” And we’re looking forward to more Duff on our TV sets.

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