The actress spent years trying to live up to Hollywood’s standards. Now she’s focused on what makes her feel happy and whole and content—on the inside.
“I have an idea…” says Hilary Duff’s 3-year-old daughter, Banks, her finger tapping her mouth. “Can I have a treat?” The child tilts her blonde head to one side as her mother looks upon her with amusement. “Did you eat any vegetables for lunch?” Hilary asks. Banks says yes, though her mother suspects otherwise. But who can deny a little indulgence in the face of such ingenuity?
Banks scampers out of view on Zoom, and Hilary, left alone in her bright and airy bedroom, shakes her head affectionately. At 34 years old, she’s the mother of three children. Besides Banks, she has son Luca, 10, from her previous marriage to retired hockey player Mike Comrie, and daughter Mae, 1. When Mae was born, the baby took over her office, so now Hilary’s bedroom is her last sanctuary. She worries her days in this house are numbered—her family, which also includes musician husband Matthew Koma, three dogs (including a 130-pound Saint Bernard), and seven chickens, has outgrown it. “We’re busting at the seams here,” she says. “You should see my garage. It’s stroller and car-seat city, scooters everywhere.”
But this is the house where she recovered from her 2016 divorce, where she learned to parent Luca as a single mom, where she eventually wed Koma on the front lawn, and where their girls were born. It’s hard to leave a place that’s held such joy. And food is a big source of that happiness. “We eat butter in this house, and olive oil, and sodium, and sugar,” says Hilary, taking a bite of a turkey, arugula, and pickle sandwich. A deviled egg, which she made this morning because her chickens are laying, waits on her plate as Mom’s version of a treat.
“I’ve gotten to a place of being peaceful with the changes my body has gone through.”
Hilary’s appeal as an actress has always been her easy familiarity. As a child star on Lizzie McGuire, she was the quintessential everygirl, as warm as she was vulnerable. After years of being identified with the character, and multiple passes on offers to reboot her, she agreed to revisit Lizzie in a series for Disney+. The project tanked when Hilary and the network differed on their vision for adult Lizzie. “She had to be 30 years old doing 30-year-old things,” Hilary says she insisted, pushing for a more mature Lizzie. “She didn’t need to be doing bong rips and having one-night stands all the time, but it had to be authentic. I think they got spooked.”
Standing her ground meant the project fizzled, which cleared the path for How I Met Your Father. You could see how her character, Sophie, swirling in realistic singledom, would be friends with a grown-up Lizzie. “It would be dumb of me to not know that I have a sweet spot playing that relatable girl,” she says. “I am that girl.” Even as a kid trying to separate herself from the character who made her famous, she managed to hold on to her optimism. “It was a conscious choice not to be angsty and try to shift people’s opinions on who I am,” she says, laughing. “That doesn’t mean I didn’t want to try!”