What Dreams Are Made Of: 21 Secrets About Lizzie McGuire Revealed

Lizzie McGuire premiered 21 years ago on Jan. 12, so we're celebrating with fun facts about the iconic Disney Channel series starring Hilary Duff.

By Tierney Bricker Jan 12, 2022 12:00 PMTags
Watch: Hilary Duff Confirms "Lizzie McGuire" Reboot Is Dead

Hey now, Lizzie McGuire can legally drink. 

That's right, Hilary Duff's beloved character was officially introduced on the Disney Channel 21 years ago on Jan. 12, going on to become one of the network's biggest hits and turning its star into a pop culture icon.

Two seasons, a hit movie and millions of dollars in merch later, Lizzie McGuire's fashionable reign came to an abrupt end in 2004 after the details of a failed contract negotiation between Duff and Disney were made public. Sadly, it wouldn't be the last time the character was ripped away from fans after plans for a Disney+ revival series were scrapped in 2020. 

But did you know there was actually supposed to be a sequel to 2003's The Lizzie McGuire Movie that also never ended up getting made? Or that Duff faced some serious competition when she first auditioned for the role that made her a household name back in 2001, including her one-time rival?

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See the Lizzie McGuire Cast, Then and Now

From the spinoff that never ended up happening to Duff's favorite episode that almost didn't air, here are 21 secrets you might not know about the beloved series in honor of Lizzie McGuire's 21st anniversary...

1. The show's original title was 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 star Hilary 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 that 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 before landing her breakout role, she didn't take the audition too seriously, but the show's creator Terri Minsky saw potential in the young actress and reached 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 Rich Ross 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 stand out 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. Of course, 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 as he was 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, Adam Lamberg's 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 makeup 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 her friends graduated middle school, the plan was for Lizzie McGuire to head over to ABC for the group's high school adventures in a primetime sitcom, along with 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 told Entertainment Weekly 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 Duff 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, which became 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 would 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 original 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, though Lamberg was slated to reprise his role. "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. Unfortunately, the series never ended up coming to fruition, with Duff confirming the sad news in December 2020 after Minsky left over creative differences and the star previously issuing a public plea to Disney+ to move the show to Hulu. Ultimately, plans for the revival were scrapped. 

"I know the efforts and conversations have been everywhere trying to make a reboot work but, sadly & despite everyone's best efforts, it isn't going to happen," Duff explained. "We can all take a moment to mourn the amazing woman she would have been and the adventures we would have taken with her. I'm very sad, but I promise everyone tried their best and the stars just didn't align. Hey now, this is what 2020's made of." 

18. 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 what 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."

 

19. Speaking of the film, 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.

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

21. 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 a 2015 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 that she found being known as Lizzie "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."

Lizzie McGuire is available to watch on Disney+.

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