20 Surprising Secrets About Lizzie McGuire Revealed

With the Disney+ revival officially beginning production, we're looking back on the iconic Disney Channel series that made Hilary Duff a superstar

By Tierney Bricker 30 Oct, 2019 7:00 PMTags
Related: Hilary Duff Will Reprise "Lizzie McGuire" Role for Disney+ Reboot

Hey now, hey now...this is what dreams are made of.

Rejoice Lizzie McGuire fans, the highly anticipated Disney+ revival of your beloved series has officially started filming with Hilary Duff back in her iconic character's cute shoes. 

The 32-year-old star shared the first look at the series on her Instagram, which finds Lizzie taking on the Big Apple as a 30-year-old. "Happy first LIZZIE day!!!!!" she captioned the adorable (and very fashionable) photo.

After making its debut on the Disney Channel in January 2001, Lizzie McGuire quickly became the network's most successful original series ever and turned Duff into young Hollywood's tween queen. The series ran for two seasons (in addition to a hit movie) before ending its 65-episode run in 2004...though Disney intended to keep the franchise going far much longer, with plans for another movie and two follow-up shows. 

So what happened that caused Lizzie (as well as her animated alter-ego) and her BFFs Gordo (Adam Lamberg) and Miranda (Lalaine) to say goodbye to their loyal fans so early?

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20 Surprising Secrets About Lizzie McGuire Revealed

That's just one of the secrets we're revealing about the beloved series, which was created by Terri Minsky. As for some of the other behind-the-scenes tidbits, we've got the other major actresses who were in the running to play Lizzie, the iconic episode that Disney almost didn't let the show do and who was originally supposed to be the love interest...

1. The show's original title? What's Lizzie Thinking? And when it was initially pitched to Disney, it didn't have the now-infamous animated Lizzie voice-over, but just a standard voice-over from Duff. 

2. Some of the other actresses who went out for the role of Lizzie included Lindsay Lohan, Duff's future rival thanks to their love triangle with Aaron Carter, Sarah Paxton and Hailee Hirsh, with producer Stan Rogow once telling E! News they were "terrific and we were excited about presenting to the network as [options for Lizzie]."

3. In an interview with E! News, Duff confessed she did "a terrible job" in her audition. "I hadn't read my lines." Close to quitting acting, she didn't take the audition too seriously, but Minsky saw potential in the young actress and reach out to her.

"I was very honest about it and said [to Duff], 'You need to get more in the character,'" Minsky recounted to us. "Because I knew there was so much [talent] there."

4. One of the reasons Duff may have ultimately landed the job was her sense of style, with Disney's former president of entertainment telling Newsweek, "When we were casting Lizzie McGuire we called her in four times. She wasn't doing anything wrong. She just wore such great outfits, and we wanted to see what she'd come in with next." Duff later revealed she used her clothes as a way to make herself standout from the hundreds of other girls auditioning for the part. 

5. A reminder that Lizzie aired on Disney Channel: the network initially pushed back when the writers wanted to do an episode about Lizzie buying her first bra. "They [the Disney Channel executives] said, 'Oh my god, you can't do that!'" Rogow recalled to E! News. "It was little bit groundbreaking at the time."

6. Funnily enough, that's one of the episodes that stands out the most for Duff, who told Today, "I definitely think that the bra episode is one that stands out in my brain as being like first of all, really wanting it, 'cause I thought a bra was cool, and then second of all, being like, 'How am I gonna get that? I have to talk to my parents about that. That's gonna be the worst thing ever.'"

7. While he became Lizzie's longtime crush, Ethan (Clayton Snyder) was not initially intended to be so, rather first conceived as your typical middle school jock. In fact, writer Nina Bargiel once revealed Danny Kessler (played by Byron Fox) was supposed to be The Guy. 

There was another dreamy boy that she was supposed to be interested in, but I think he wasn't available," she told the Feminist Disney Tumblr account, "so we needed someone new and Ethan was already there, so we just built him up." 

8. But while Lizzie was pining for Ethan, Gordo (one of the best Disney Channel boys EVER, don't @ us) was secretly crushing on his BFF. And after two seasons and one movie, fans finally got to see the two kiss, with the ending hinting the best friends had become a couple. "We knew fans wanted Lizzie and Gordo to get together. It was pretty clear by then that this was going to be the end of the Lizzie McGuire train, so we wanted to make sure that you got a good last stop," Bargiel said. (While new episodes aired after the movie's release, the film's ending is canonically Lizzie's last hurrah.)

9. In an interview with MTV, Snyder revealed he actually took the longest in hair and make-up out of anyone in the cast each day, all to achieve Ethan's signature flowing locks. "I had a curly, fro, clown mop of hair off set, and I took longer than the girls did in hair and makeup to get that thing as luscious and straight as it was," he said. "They just destroyed it with product and hairspray and straightening iron and more product."

10. After Lizzie and friends graduated middle school, the plan was for Lizzie McGuire to head over to ABC for the gang's high school adventures in a prime-time sitcom, as well as a big screen sequel to the hit movie. However, heated contract negotiations that played out in public caused Disney and Duff to part ways. 

"We very much wanted to continue the Lizzie franchise," Disney Studios' then-production chief Nina Jacobson said at the time. "But every deal has its tipping point, the point at which it no longer makes sense. Unfortunately, that's the point we reached in the Lizzie negotiations, and we ultimately had to say goodbye."

11. However, Duff's mom and then-manager Susan spoke out in a tell-all interview with EW, saying, "Disney thought they'd be able to bully us into accepting whatever offer they wanted to make, and they couldn't. We walked away from a sequel. They walked away from a franchise. We weren't feeling the love...they weren't giving Hilary the respect she deserved."

Duff's lawyer also weighed in on behalf of the teen star, issuing the following statement to the Los Angeles Times: "Disney's strong-armed tactics and failure to pay our client a fee commensurate with offers received from other studios and networks caused the breakdown of negotiations with the Duffs. While the Lizzie McGuire franchise may be over for Disney, Hilary Duff's career is flourishing."

12. After Lizzie's abrupt end, producers developed a pilot centering on Stevie, Miranda's outsider of a little sister, played by Selena Gomez. Like Lizzie, Stevie's internal thoughts would also be voiced by an animated alter ego. Stevie was one of two pilots pitched to the Disney Channel that year, with the network ultimately deciding not to move forward with the Gomez-vehicle in favor of the other one: Hannah Montana. Gomez would go on to land the lead role in The Wizards of Waverly Place, her breakout performance. 

13. At the height of its popularity, Lizzie McGuire was bringing in an estimated $100 million on merchandise alone, including clothing, a book series, soundtracks and more. It was the Disney Channel's highest rated and most successful series at the time, averaging 2 million viewers per episode and once aired seven days a week (with ABC also airing it on Saturday mornings).

14. After years of rumors and whispers, Disney+ officially announced they would be reviving Lizzie McGuire in August 2019, with Duff reprising her iconic role and the show's creator overseeing the streaming series, which will focus on a 30 year-old millennial Lizzie navigating life in New York City. 

15. While casting was initially kept under wraps, a photo from the first table-read revealed the McGuire family would be back in action, with Hallie Todd, Robert Carradine, and Jake Thomas all returning as Lizzie's parents and troublemaker little brother Matt.

16. But bad news Lizzie and Gordo shippers: they are not dating...at least not when the revival starts as Lizzie is engaged to someone else and there's no word yet if Lamberg will return. "I feel like them not being together is what was so good...it's that one person that you're like, 'Was he the one? Is it ever going to be?'" Duff told Vulture. "You're always kind of wondering. We wanted it to hurt everyone a little bit, and it'll continue to hurt."

17. A celeb fan of Lizzie McGuire? Cardi B, who revealed just how much the movie resonated with her during Vogue's Forces of Fashion conference when talking about how much being invited to Paris Fashion Week meant to her.

"Has anyone seen that Hilary Duff movie [The Lizzie McGuire Movie]? There's a song in it that anytime I go to an event that I've always wanted to go to I always play it in my head," she said. "It goes, 'Hey now, hey now, this is what dreams are made of.' That's how I feel every single time that I get invited to these fashion events."

18. Speaking of the movie, The Lizzie McGuire Movie became a surprise hit when it was released in May 2003, debuting at No. 2 at the box office behind X2: X-Men United, going on to gross over $50 million. 

19. Many fans were upset that Miranda was not in the movie and was MIA in some of the last episodes of the show, with her family going on an extended vacation, but this was actually because Lalaine wanted to focus on her music career. 

20. After becoming a teen idol thanks to her time as Lizzie, many were surprised when Duff chose to take a break from acting, a decision she opened up about in an interview with PrideSource.

"Everyone thought I was just absolutely nuts because I was really successful and making a lot of money. And it was scary, because there was no guarantee that my career was still gonna be there," she said. "I really needed it personally. I grew up in the spotlight and on tour and with everyone just knowing me and knowing me a certain way. At some point I was like, 'I don't even know if I'm that person anymore, and I don't even have the time to figure that out.'" 

She admitted she found being known as Lizzie was "torturous" at times, explaining, "I loved it during the filming. I just didn't know what a success the show was gonna be, and after that...I was still Lizzie McGuire to people and that was super annoying. Now it's not. I don't care now."

Disney+ has yet to announce a premiere date for Lizzie McGuire's return.