Hilary Erhard Duff is an American actress and pop music singer. After gaining prominence in the television show Lizzie McGuire, she has since gone onto a film career, with roles in mainstream pictures such as Cheaper by the Dozen and independent films such as Material Girls and The Perfect Man. Duff has also launched a successful music career that has yielded three number one albums in the U. S.
Early life and career.
Duff was born in Houston, Texas as the second child of Robert Erhard Duff, owner of a chain of convenience stores, and his wife Susan Colleen Cobb, a homemaker. Duff’s unusual middle name of “Erhard” was the maiden name of her part German American paternal grandmother, Mary Erhard; Duff also has German ancestry on the part of her maternal grandmother, Amy Beulah Schlemmer. After Hilary’s mother encouraged her to take an acting class alongside her older sister, Haylie Duff, both girls won parts in various local theatre productions. At the age of six, the Duffs participated in the ballet The Nutcracker Suite with Columbus Ballet Met in San Antonio. The siblings became more and more enthusiastic about the idea of acting professionally, and they eventually relocated to California with their mother. Bob Duff stayed at the family home in Houston to maintain their business. Through years of auditions and meetings, both sisters managed to clinch appearances in several television commercials.
Television and film.
Most of Duff’s first few acting roles were small, starting off with an uncredited appearance in Hallmark Entertainment’s western miniseries True Women, an adaptation of the novel by Janice Woods Windle. She also served as an extra, again uncredited, in writer and director Willard Carroll’s
comedy drama Playing by Heart, whose ensemble cast included Dennis Quaid, Sean Connery and Angelina Jolie, star of True Women from the previous year.
Her first major part was as the star of the 1998 film Casper Meets Wendy, playing the young witch Wendy who encounters the animated character Casper. Like Casper: A Spirited Beginning, the first sequel to the hugely successful Casper, the film went direct-to-video with generally unenthusiastic reviews.
Duff later appeared in a supporting role in the television movie The Soul Collector in 1999, which was based on a Kathleen Kane novel, and starred Bruce Greenwood as an angel who helps out a female farmer whose husband has recently died. Duff ended up winning a Young Artist Award for Best Performance in a TV Movie or Pilot.
Duff’s first serious shot at fame came when she was cast as one of the children in the pilot episode of the NBC sitcom Daddio. Said Michael Chiklis, star of Daddio, “After working with her the first day, I remember saying to my wife, ‘This young girl is going to be a movie star.’ She was completely at ease with herself and comfortable in her own skin”. However, before the show had even aired, Duff was dropped from its cast lineup, an unfortunate turn of events which made the twelve-year-old reluctant to continue her acting career. But her manager and mother, Susan Duff, spurred her on, and she successfully auditioned for the family comedy show Lizzie McGuire just a week later.
Lizzie McGuire, which first aired on the Disney Channel in January 2001, was a ratings hit, drawing in 2.3 million viewers per episode, and became the career breakthrough Duff had been waiting for. Her performance in this role as a typical teenager led to appearances on the covers of many teen magazines, and she became highly popular among children between the ages of seven and fourteen, with Richard Huff of the New York Daily News calling her “a 2002 version of Annette Funicello”. After fulfilling her entire sixty-five episode contract, as well as participating in a film spin-off entitled The Lizzie McGuire Movie, Disney toyed with the idea of continuing the franchise in further movies and a prime-time television series to be broadcast on ABC, but Duff refused the proposal. There was a dispute over the amount of pay Duff would receive; reportedly, she had been receiving US$15,000 per episode, but she and her representatives, including her mother, wanted that figure to be raised to $100,000. Disney offered to raise it up to $35,000 but Duff would not relent and all plans of continuing the series were abandoned.
Duff’s second role in a theatrical motion picture was in Human Nature, an independent film released in most countries in 2002 following a good reception at the Cannes and Sundance film festivals. Written by Charlie Kaufman and directed by Michel Gondry, the film follows a female naturalist, played by Patricia Arquette, who has body hair growing all over her body. Tim Robbins and Rhys Ifans co-starred. Duff played the younger version of Arquette’s character.
She starred in the Disney Channel television movie Cadet Kelly with Christy Carlson Romano and Gary Cole, which became the network’s most watched program in its nineteen-year history. Her first major role in a feature film was in Agent Cody Banks with Frankie Muniz in 2003. It was successful enough to spawn a sequel, proving that Duff’s popularity was not limited to the small screen. Duff then reprised the role of Lizzie McGuire in The Lizzie McGuire Movie, which was her first million-dollar movie role. She played the part of Lorraine Baker in the Twentieth Century Fox film Cheaper by the Dozen with Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt.
In 2004, she appeared in the romantic comedy A Cinderella Story, a twenty-first century update of Charles Perrault’s fairy tale Cinderella. Comedienne Jennifer Coolidge played the wicked stepmother of the picture, which was directed by Mark Rosman, a veteran of Duff’s Lizzie McGuire. The film became a modest sleeper hit, and many critics were impressed by Duff’s performance, as well as her chemistry with co-star Chad Michael Murray, another actor popular with teens, who plays Duff’s love interest in the film.
Later that year, she starred in the romance film Raise Your Voice, which marked the third collaboration between Duff and director Sean McNamara. While some critics praised Duff for appearing in a more dramatic role than she had previously been seen in, the film was heavily panned, with many slating in particular the striking similarities to the musical film Fame. Reviews were, by and large, negative to Duff’s vocals. The film also received a muted reception at the box office, where it became Duff’s least commercially successful film to date.
In Duff’s latest film, The Perfect Man, she plays the eldest daughter of a divorced woman, played by Heather Locklear, who moves to New York City as she desperately searches for a good man to settle down with. The movie saw Duff once again united with director Mark Rosman. Reviews were mostly negative.
Duff has recently filmed the satirical comedy Material Girls. The Martha Coolidge-directed film, co-produced by Madonna’s independent film production company Maverick Entertainment, stars Hilary and her real-life sister Haylie Duff as wealthy siblings who must fight to reclaim their fortune following a scandal. The Duff sisters are also due to lend their vocal talents to the computer animated comedy Foodfight!, to be distributed by Lions Gate Films in the fall of 2006. The film’s director, Larry Kasanoff, said that he is “absolutely thrilled to have Hilary and Haylie Duff as part of the cast”. In late October 2005, reports emerged that Duff is likely to star in the third sequel to the supernatural horror film Poltergeist, in a role originated by the late Heather O’Rourke.
Duff recently announced on MTV that she has put her film Outward Blonde on hold for “a little while”.
In a recent interview with the Puerto Rican press. Duff has confirmed an April release date for “Material Girls”.
After seeing her sister perform in a band, Duff decided that she wanted to be the next “Pop princess”. Her first recorded singing performance was on the song “I Can’t Wait”, which appeared on the original television soundtrack for Lizzie McGuire in August 2002. The following month, the first Disneymania compilation album was released, featuring Duff in the song “The Tiki, Tiki, Tiki Room”. Her first album was the collection of Christmas songs entitled Santa Claus Lane, which included duets with Lil’ Romeo and Christina Milian. Released in October, it made the lower reaches of the Billboard 200 album chart and number three on the kids’ music chart, and eventually achieved gold certification. The title track was also included on the soundtrack to The Santa Clause 2.
Duff also sang on several tracks on the soundtrack to The Lizzie McGuire Movie. One of these tracks, “Why Not”, which is performed by Duff in the film, was released as a single, and reached the top twenty on singles charts in countries including Australia, New Zealand and the Netherlands. That year, she recorded her first non-holiday album, entitled Metamorphosis, went to number one on the U. S. and Canadian charts in that year. Songwriting team The Matrix, who had worked with singers such as Avril Lavigne and Liz Phair, provided three songs on the album. One of these songs, “So Yesterday”, was released as the first single, reaching number one in Canada, the top forty in Australia and just outside the top forty of the Billboard Hot 100 in the U. S”.Little Voice” was released as a single overseas in 2004, while “The Math ” was also released overseas and on the internet.
Metamorphosis became the eighth-highest selling album of the year, with over 2.4 million copies purchased in its first four months of release in the US alone; it has since gone to sell over 3.7 million copies. Metamorphosis was also nominated in Canada’s Juno Awards for International Album of the Year in 2004. In January 2004, the second Disneymania disc was released, and contained Duff’s last recording for Disney, “The Siamese Cat Song”, recorded with her sister Haylie. Another song, “Circle of Life”, included Duff and other Disney Channel Stars. Duff and her sister also recorded a cover of The Go-Gos’ “Our Lips Are Sealed” for the soundtrack to A Cinderella Story.
On September 28, 2004 , she released her second album, the self-titled Hilary Duff; it debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 and number one in Canada. When describing the album to her fans, Duff noted that she felt it has an edgier, rock feel to it. The album’s first single was “Fly”, and it also includes “Haters”, the lyrics of which were once rumoured to be about Lindsay Lohan, who is often considered by the media to be Duff’s rival. The album has sold over 1.5 million copies in the U. S. to date, but “Fly” performed below expectations on the charts.
Duff’s third official album, Most Wanted, consisted of her personal favorite songs alongside three new tracks. Duff enlisted help from boyfriend Joel Madden to make her three new tracks edgier and more rock, and listened to music by artists such as The Killers and Muse for inspiration. Lead single “Wake Up” became her highest debut on the Billboard Hot 100 and her highest peaking single in the U. S. The album itself debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, selling near 220,000 copies in its first week of release. Most Wanted also became her third number one debut in Canada.
Duff has recorded Madonna’s signature song “Material Girl” for her film Material Girls, and the music video is due in January. Duff has also mentioned in an interview that “Material Girl” will be included on her next album, which she is planning to start recording in early 2006.
Personal life and trivia.
Duff has dated singer Aaron Carter, brother of Backstreet Boys member Nick Carter. There were reports that she had tried to have fellow teen actress Lindsay Lohan banned from the preview of Cheaper by the Dozen because Lohan had allegedly been dating Carter at the same time as Duff in late 2003, as well as other reports about a fistfight that supposedly took place between the two actresses. Duff had a disagreement with pop punk singer Avril Lavigne over criticisms of Duff copying Lavigne’s style.
Duff is involved with many charities, is an animal rights enthusiast, and a member of “Kids With a Cause”. On September 5, 2005, it was reported that Duff donated US$250,000 to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Her hair is naturally light brown, but she’s been dying it blonde since she was eleven years old. She also has six dogs: Lola, Macy, and Chiquita are her dogs and the rest are her sister’s. Duff launched a clothing line, “Stuff By Duff” on March 12, 2004 with clothes distributed through Target in the United States and Australia and Zellers in Canada. Playmates Toys also released a doll of Hilary that year.
Her sister, Haylie Duff, has been trying to become a professional singer, as well. Hilary has helped her with duet songs including “Our Lips Are Sealed” which have been successful in the United States and in other countries, including Mexico and Colombia. Her mother, Susan Duff, is a producer and manages Hilary’s career. Susan also co-produced A Cinderella Story and her father, Bob Duff, is a business owner.