Hilary Duff on How Hulu's 'How I Met Your Father' Carries on the Legacy of the Original

CUL PS Hilary Duff
Ashley Barrett

How do you make a sequel to a show like How I Met Your Mother, one of TV's most successful sitcoms? You cast Hilary Duff in the lead role. Hulu's How I Met Your Father stars Duff as Sophie, a new tenant in the apartment made famous in the original CBS series. "I think it's so brilliant that the first episode ends in Ted's apartment. These new residents have this magical place that everyone knows and loves, but it's very much our own journey." What makes this series so different are the people telling the story. "We're telling this wonderful story from the woman's perspective." But the sentiment from the original is the same. "It has a lot of heart, it's funny, and it's a little dirty." Duff says it's Disney's Lizzie McGuire, the part that made her famous, that was originally hard to move on from. "I've done a lot in my career and I think for a while, it was a little frustrating. I flailed a bit trying other things." But then, because of support from fans, she learned to accept McGuire. "I realized how much I actually love her. Maybe that's learning to love myself in a weird meta kind of way."

How did How I Met Your Father come your way?

I was nine months pregnant when I got the phone call. And I was like, are you really calling me about a job? Then I heard what the job was and I was like, I can't do that. No. I've been down the reboot alley before. Then they're like, you should talk with Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger [HIMYF co-creators]. I was like, oh, sh*t. This is major. So talking to Isaac and Elizabeth, who could actually sell me a bag of dirty laundry, I was obsessed. I want to do this. I read the script, and it was so good.

Hilary Duff on How HIMYF
How I Met Your Father -- “FOMO” - Episode 102 -- Determined to try and live in the moment, Sophie and the gang head to an exclusive new club for a wild night out. Valentina has doubts about her relationship with Charlie. Sid pushes Jesse to be open to love. Ellen tries her luck with women at the club. Jesse (Chris Lowell), Sophie (Hilary Duff), Valentina (Francia Raisa), Charlie (Tom Ainsley), Sid (Suraj Sharma), and Ellen (Tien Tran), shown. Patrick Wymore/Hulu

What was it like jumping back into work so soon after having a baby?

They were like, how much time do you need? And I was like, six months, seven months. And they were like, great, we'll see you in four months [laughs]. It was a quick turnaround time. But we had Pam Fryman, who was on board to direct most of the episodes, and Carter [Bays] and Craig [Thomas] on as producers. The pressure was off because everyone was like, this is a different show. We are taking this wonderful title and we're telling it from the woman's perspective. All the characters are new. No one is like, "Oh, this is the Barney." I think it's so brilliant that in the first episode, it ends in Ted's apartment. These are the new occupants. These new residents who have this magical place that everyone knows and loves, but it's very much our own journey.

Did the fact that it's a sequel and not a reboot appeal to you?

So much. It really has a lot of heart, it's funny, and it's a little dirty. There are really special moments. The original show had that where you're tugging at heartstrings, but then we're all gonna laugh, it's just a classic sitcom. But they also promised me this is not just your run-of-mill sitcom, it's going to be a hybrid, we're going to be filming on the streets of New York, it's going to be more grounded.

Hilary Duff on How HIMYF
How I Met Your Father -- “Pilot” - Episode 101 -- After a slew of let-down Tinder dates, Sophie meets the seemingly perfect guy. Meanwhile, her roommate, Valentina, returns home from London Fashion Week with a sexy souvenir. An Uber-related phone mishap leads them to an eclectic new group of friends. Sophie (Hilary Duff) and Jesse (Chris Lowell), shown. Patrick Wymore/Hulu

Does the show being on Hulu allow you more freedom?

I don't know about that. Yes, in some areas, but then no in others. I watched some of the original, and I couldn't believe they could say this and get away with some things. I mean, in the most funny way, but a testament to the times. So the things that we want to get away with are not offending anyone.

From Lizzie McGuire to Kelsey Peters (on Younger), how does Sophie show the evolution of you as an actress?

It's nice just to do 30-year-old things. I'm in my 30s, but I have way more responsibilities than Sophie, way more logistics to deal with. It's really freeing to play this girl who doesn't have all that weight. Sophie has stress of a different kind. I'm attracted to how effervescent she is.

Nostalgia for Lizzie McGuire is still strong, particularly among the LGBT community. What does that mean to you?

Those lines are super blurry, I am her, she is me. But at that moment in time, everyone needed her, she was their friend. But my career was starting and all I wanted to do was be Britney Spears. I remember singing and no one really taking me seriously. It was the gay community that got behind me, made my songs get on the radio and showed up to my concerts. It was so f*cking cool. Yeah, that the fans were just loud about me. I am so forever grateful.


#duet with @yungdaddycack HERE YOU GOOOOOOOO!

♬ original sound - Devin Santiago

Speaking of nostalgia, a dance from an old performance of yours went viral, which you responded to in an equally viral moment. What made you want to do that?

That one is a hard one for me. That particular time for me, I think I was maybe eating like 600 calories a day. That was a dark moment. But all of the journeys that I got through took me here, and I wouldn't change any of it. But that video was obviously a toughy. It would not leave me alone. I was like, I'm coming to peace with this. I figured out TikTok in my bathroom. It was really fun. I'm going to join in on this joke and have some fun, but please don't let it bring up every other embarrassing moment of my childhood.

So many millennial and Gen Z fans grew up with you, particularly because of Lizzie McGuire. How does it feel to have that kind of connection with your audience?

I've done a lot in my career and I think for a while, it was a little frustrating. I flailed a bit trying other things. And then I realized how much I actually love her [Lizzie McGuire]. Maybe that's learning to love myself in a weird meta kind of way. It's all just easy now. I feel so grateful to have touched so many lives and to still see ferocious support from people. Like it's crazy. It brought me here. Sometimes it feels like everyone's behind you telling you to keep going. It's really, really cool. I don't know why this was my purpose in life to be a connector. I feel like I can connect in a way that means something to people and they feel a friendship. That's really special.

Do you have plans to do more music?

Like a month ago I told my husband I think I want to get into the studio, but I feel really nervous. He was like, let's do it. Let's do it. Just starting to create a new record feels scary. I hate when I go to a concert and they don't play the hits. So I'm trying to figure out what to do that's authentic to who I am now and also what people want out of me. It's very complicated.