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Although it was only on the air for two short seasons in the early 2000s, the Lizzie McGuire comedy TV series quickly skyrocketed main actress Hilary Duff to fame. During its short run, Lizzie McGuire was nominated for numerous awards — including Emmy Awards and numerous Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards — and spawned a theatrical movie spinoff, a series of novels, and multiple soundtrack albums.

Today, Duff is known for her wide-ranging acting chops on shows like TV Land’s Younger, but it wasn’t always that way. An old interview has recently resurfaced revealing Duff’s difficult audition for Lizzie McGuire, and the surprising real reason she even tried out for the star McGuire role. 

‘Lizzie McGuire’ was only on the air from 2001 to 2004

In the show, titular character Lizzie McGuire was a 13-year-old girl navigating the gossip, drama and life challenges of junior high. And while it was a comedy, episodes often tackled real problems facing young teens, such as juggling peer pressure and navigating early teenhood romance.

Besides Hilary Duff playing McGuire, the show also starred Adam Lamberg as David Gordon (McGuire’s childhood best friend), Jake Thomas as McGuire’s younger brother Matt McGuire, Lalaine as Miranda Sanchez (McGuire’s best friend), and more.

Hilary Duff and the iconic role that catapulted her to fame

Hilary Erhard Duff was born in 1987 to non-celebrity parents. She started her acting career doing local productions in her town’s theaters, before starring in uncredited roles as minor characters and extras.

Her first major role was in the 1998 movie Casper Meets Wendy. But it wasn’t until she got the role in Disney Channel’s Lizzie McGuire TV series that she became a true household name.

In the show, Duff plays a clumsy and socially awkward 13-year-old juggling the different challenges of high school. In this role, she’s best known for sharing her inner thoughts, ideas and feelings with the audience, often breaking the so-called “fourth wall” and speaking directly to the TV viewers.

The role also opened up new opportunities for Duff, and helped her launch her singing career.

Duff had a “terrible” audition for ‘Lizzie McGuire’

Duff wasn’t Disney’s only choice for the role of Lizzie McGuire. Other child stars who were considered for the position included Lindsay Lohan, Sara Paxton, and Hallee Hirsh.

In fact, at the time, E! Online reports that Duff was actually considering leaving the acting business entirely. She had friends who were auditioning to be on the upcoming sitcom, and decided to audition simply to hang out with her friends.

This disinterest in actually starring in Lizzie McGuire led to Duff bombing her audition. In her own words, Duff told E! that her audition was “terrible” and admitted that she hadn’t even prepared for it and hadn’t read any of her lines for the audition. 

Hilary Duff
Hilary Duff | Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Comedy Central, Paramount Network and TV Land

Disney Channel’s ’65-Episode Limit’ and Disagreements Over Money Were Behind ‘Lizzie McGuire’s Cancellation

E! also reports that the TV show’s creator, Terri Minsky, was “very honest” about how bad Duff’s audition was, and told her “You need to get more in the character.” Minsky says she was encouraging Duff because she “knew there was so much [talent] there.”

That encouragement paid off. According to Newsweek, after four auditions, Duff landed the role. And while she might have messed up her initial audition by not reading her lines, she made up for it by choosing a wardrobe that wowed the show’s team.

“She just wore such great outfits…we wanted to see what she’d come in with next,” says Rich Ross, who was the head of the Disney Channel’s entertainment division, in his interview with Newsweek.

Today, Duff continues to work with her old castmates and Disney+ is rumored to be working on a Lizzie McGuire reboot with Duff reprising her iconic role.