Lizzie McGuire was the girl every ’90s and ’00s kid wanted to be. She had impeccable style, great friends, and a magnetism that made viewers fall in love with her and her weekly adventures. The show’s young fan base was going through many of the same milestones, insecurities, and problems as Lizzie McGuire was facing.
In 2001, Lizzie McGuire was the Disney Channel’s hottest show, and Hilary Duff was one of the most notable stars in the Disney repertoire. Lizzie McGuire was a surprise smash hit about 9-to-14-year-olds, rocketing the show to a prized status in the network and labeling Duff as the “tween queen.” However, despite the polished Disney veneer, many aspects of Lizzie McGuire did not go smoothly behind the scenes.
Hilary Duff nearly missed being cast in the landmark role for several reasons, and her overnight fame was often difficult to contend with at her young age. Disney and its stringent structure threw up roadblocks for the show and its creative potential.
Additionally, conflict between Disney and the Duff family ended the franchise while it still had the possibility of further successful series and movies, and Hilary Duff eventually walked away from acting because of the show.
Here are the 15 Behind-The-Scenes Secrets You Never Knew About Lizzie McGuire.
15. Disney was accused of leaking negative press about Duff’s family
After the future of the franchise fell apart in negotiations between Disney and Duff’s family, negative press about Hilary Duff and her family began to appear in the media. A columnist quoted unnamed sources who said that Susan Duff, Hilary’s mother, was “a handful to deal with” and that Hilary herself had “T-R-O-U-B-L-E stamped in front of her name” because of the failed negotiations.
Duff’s family and other sources speculated that Disney was leaking these statements to justify the loss of the franchise. ”Disney kept leaking stuff and using undisclosed sources,” Duff’s mother stated.
“And because we didn’t say anything, it sounded like it was true. I thought it would run its course, but they kept coming at us. In my wildest dreams, I cannot imagine adults beating up on a 15-year-old kid in the papers like they have,” she said.
14. Hilary Duff worked long days on set as a child
When Hilary Duff was cast in the role of Lizzie McGuire, she was only twelve years old playing Disney’s middle school tween queen. As the headliner for the hit show, Duff had to put a lot of time into Lizzie McGuire, which could be taxing for a middle schooler.
Hilary Duff was allowed to work 9 1/2 hour days on set at the age of 13, which included three hours of school in the bargain. Duff said, “It was definitely a lot of work. If you think about it, I was in the A story and the B story because the TV show was all about me.”
13. Lalaine went through a rough time after the show
In the last season of the show, Miranda Sanchez and her family went on a seemingly very long vacation as Miranda was absent for the rest of the show. Miranda was also absent from The Lizzie McGuire Movie. In real life, her actress Lalaine had left to pursue a music career. At the time of the movie, Lalaine was doing tours with Radio Disney, but her life after the show was not always easy.
Lalaine recently revealed that after she left the show and lost touch with her costars, she went through a dark time in her life. Three years after Lizzie McGuire ended, Lalaine was arrested for felony possession of methamphetamine.
She had the charge expunged after going through a drug treatment program, and the arrest jarred her into getting her life back on track. She has mostly stayed out of the spotlight since then, but says she is doing well.
12. Disney policed what Duff could wear
Lizzie’s style is now considered iconic 2000s chic, and Lizzie’s outfits were an almost inseparable part of her character. A Disney executive said that they were always interested to see what outfit Hilary Duff would wear to the next audition because she had such great style.
However, Disney did control what kind of outfits Duff could wear while she was associated with the Disney brand. While filming a music video with Disney, filming was delayed while Disney executives emailed each other pictures of the shirt she was wearing to decide if it was appropriate.
The shirt had small holes in it that Disney eventually decided were acceptable only if they did not reveal her belly button, only the skin around it. Despite some hiccups like this, Duff states she mostly wore what she liked to wear for Lizzie McGuire.
11. The writers shied away from including a gay couple
For those who grew up in the early 2000s, it’s painfully obvious how awkward most shows at the time were about discussing homosexuality or any kind of LGBTQ issue. For a family network like Disney, the subject was entirely avoided. However, Lizzie McGuire writer Nina Bargiel revealed that the writers had not entirely avoided the idea behind the scenes.
One episode featured two men who owned a chimp that stayed at the McGuire’s home and hated Lizzie’s brother Matt. The writers considered the two men who owned the chimpanzee to be a couple, but she said the writers did not get to make those decisions about inclusion.
In a corporation like Disney, the network made those decisions for the writers. Bargiel also wanted to be careful about introducing a gay character, which would have been different and new at the time, in case the show failed and the network never wanted to try another character like that again.
10. Lindsey Lohan was considered for the role
Hilary Duff is the only person who fans can imagine inhabiting the role of Lizzie McGuire, but it wasn’t always certain that Duff would take on her iconic role. The show creators considered 400-500 other actresses for the role in an extensive auditioning process. Some of the other young actresses considered were Sara Paxton, Hallee Hirsh, and Lindsey Lohan.
Hilary Duff’s mother found out that the producer of Lizzie McGuire wanted another actress and pulled Duff out of the audition process. The casting director assured Duff’s mother that Hilary would get the part over the other actresses, and Duff was put back into the mix for the role.
9. Duff started a romance with Aaron Carter on set which turned into a love triangle
Lizzie McGuire‘s popularity attracted many young rising stars, including Aaron Carter, then a pop music heartthrob. The crew of the show noticed some chemistry between Hilary Duff and Carter when they met on set. The two also kept in contact while Carter was touring, but the budding romance did not start smoothly. Duff attracted a lot of hatred from Aaron Carter’s fans for making him unavailable.
The two dated for two years until Carter began to date Lindsey Lohan at the same time. This broke up Duff and Carter, but Carter and Lohan’s relationship only lasted for a few months.
Carter went back to Hilary Duff again, but their relationship ended for good when Carter cheated on her again. The love triangle spun into a highly publicized feud between Duff and Lohan that even made its way onto Saturday Night Live.
8. Duff had to be protected from fans
Hilary Duff and the Lizzie McGuire crew did not realize the extreme success of the show until it was clear what a recognizable face Duff had become. One day, Duff called her acting coach, Troy Rowland, on set and told him that she could not get through the mall. Fans and press had mobbed her while she was was there, and she was unable to escape.
This was not the only time that Duff had issues with her large number of fans. Rowland also recalled a large signing that Hilary Duff did in Florida, where they completely lost control of the crowd.
Security lifted Duff off her feet and took her to a van to escape the mass of crazed fans. Rowland explained: “People were falling over, almost getting hit, and at that moment, I knew that it was crazy, that Lizzie was just out there.”
7. Disney and Duff fell out over money
Following the success of Lizzie McGuire and The Lizzie McGuire Movie, Disney was interested in continuing Lizzie’s franchise with a series set in high school or another movie. However, Hilary Duff had received six figures per episode offers from other networks, and Disney only offered $35,000 per episode for the new Lizzie McGuire series.
Meanwhile, Duff had been promised a $500,000 bonus from the first Lizzie movie when it reached $50 million, but Disney would not pay this. Duff was offered $4 million and 4% of the studio’s gross for the film, but when Duff’s mother insisted the first movie’s bonus be paid, Disney withdrew the offer for a second movie.
Buena Vista Motion Pictures Group president Nina Jacobson said at the time that she felt the offer was generous, but Duff’s mother did not feel the offer gave Hilary the respect she deserved from the franchise.
6. Ethan wasn’t the intended romantic interest
Ethan Craft was a quintessential heartthrob of the early 2000s. He may not have been very bright, but Ethan developed into a considerate and well-rounded character. He was also obviously attractive in nearly the exact same way every other cute love interest was at the time.
However, Ethan was not originally intended to be Lizzie’s romantic interest. Ethan actually started out as the school bully, while Danny Kessler was intended to be Lizzie’s love interest.
Danny’s inclusion in the series fell apart behind the scenes when the actor became unavailable, so writers decided to work with what they had. Ethan was already on the show, and instead of starting from scratch, the writers built up Ethan’s character from the stereotypical bully jock into a three-dimension character who provided interesting interactions with the rest of the cast.
5. Disney did not want to make the bra episode
One of Lizzie McGuire‘s more notable episodes was “Between a Rock and a Bra Place”, an episode where Lizzie wants her first bra. The episode captured the awkwardness of Lizzie’s bra shopping trip with her mother in a way that many young girls found extremely relatable, and Hilary Duff was going through the same issue herself around the time that the episode was made.
However, Disney Channel executives were not sure about making the episode. Producer Stan Rogow revealed: “They said, ‘Oh my god, you can’t do that!’ Because it was a little bit groundbreaking at the time for Disney.”
In addition to the uncomfortable subject matter, the plot was also considered a “girl issue,” while Disney usually tried to relate to both boys and girls with their programming. In the end, the episode was made anyway, and it ended up being one of Lizzie McGuire‘s most memorable episodes.
4. Duff bombed her first audition
While Hilary Duff is now synonymous with the personality and style of Lizzie McGuire, Duff did not always seem the perfect match for the part. Duff admits that she bombed her first audition because she was skeptical of getting the part and was still reeling from being replaced in her last network role.
The show creators gave her direction for getting into the character and gave her another audition. This constructive criticism challenged Duff to continue auditioning for the role, and she drastically improved on her next audition.
Duff wasn’t done yet, however. She went through a process of five audition, facing more and more people at each audition. Duff said that they would ask a lot of questions about what she could do and her special talents. At one point, Hilary Duff was walking around the audition room upside down on her hands to demonstrate her skills.
3. Duff took a break from acting because of the show
After Lizzie McGuire, Hilary Duff had a difficult time breaking away from the character. Duff explained: “I don’t think during the filming it was torturous. I loved it during the filming. I just didn’t know what a success the show was gonna be, and after that – four years, five years after that – and I was still Lizzie McGuire to people and that was super annoying. Now it’s not. I don’t care now. I’m grateful for it.”
She eventually decided to take a break from acting, stepping away from the spotlight she had grown up in for personal reasons. “Everyone thought I was just absolutely nuts because I was really successful and making a lot of money,” Duff continued.
2. Lizzie’s football episode was based on real experiences
Writer Nina Bargiel wrote the episode “Just One of the Guys”, where Lizzie plays touch football with the guys at her school. When her romantic interest Ethan calls her “dude,” she worries about whether she is seen as too much of a guy and is losing her femininity over her success in sports. Bargiel stated that Lizzie’s struggle over athleticism and femininity was based on her own experiences in athletics at the time.
Bargiel said the she was aggressive in gym class and would be paired with boys playing basketball because she was too rough for the girls in the class. At the time she wrote the episode, Bargiel was also doing weightlifting, and people would tell her “But you still look like a girl” and “Don’t get too big.”
1. Duff had to be convinced to audition
Although Hilary Duff is now a household name, Duff had a difficult time breaking into acting before her success on Lizzie McGuire. After many auditions, Duff landed a role on a network sitcom called Daddio in 1999. Duff and her family thought she could be on the show for a long time, but after the pilot, Duff’s character was replaced by two other kids.
After her replacement on the show, Duff said that she was quitting acting and went back to Texas. In 2000, when Disney was trying to cast Lizzie McGuire, Duff was still unsure about continuing her acting career, but Disney asked her to go on the audition for Lizzie.
Duff and her family were skeptical that anything would come of the audition. Her manager called her repeatedly to convince her to audition for the role. Duff finally relented and returned to Los Angeles to audition for Lizzie McGuire.
Can you think of any other dark behind-the-scenes secrets about Lizzie McGuire? Let us know in the comment!
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