chat room

Younger’s Hilary Duff on Getting ‘Beat Up’ This Season and Returning to Lizzie McGuire

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Warning: Spoilers ahead of the season six finale of Younger.

Following a short (and, uh, titillating) reign as Empirical Press’s HBIC, Kelsey (Hilary Duff) kicked off Wednesday’s Younger finale by officially resigning, a selfless demotion to save the company from total bankruptcy. Her new quest to create her own publishing house is short-lived, though, thanks to an astounding offer from Charles (Peter Hermann): Should she return to run the Millennial imprint, he’ll award her with a large stake in the company, or enough to give her a seat on the board. “You’re family, Kelsey, I knew that the day you sacrificed everything that you wanted to save us,” he warmly tells her, much to her surprise. “If that isn’t family, I don’t know what is.” Who wouldn’t say yes to that? Our girl is coming home!

This boomerang back to power is mirrored in Duff’s professional life, with the actress recently announcing that she’ll reprise her iconic (and we don’t use that adjective lightly) role as Lizzie McGuire in a new Disney+ series. Lizzie, now 30 years old and living in Brooklyn, is apprenticing for a famed interior designer and engaged to a man who somehow isn’t Gordo. (Gasp!) But, as Duff shared with us in a few exclusive details, Lizzie is soon “forced out” of New York and heads West to sort out her life. Between this and her Younger money moves, we had a lot to discuss with her. Here’s what we learned — and, no, she’s not as devastated as we are about Gordo.

As we talked about last year, I was so excited to see a young woman usurp an older dude for a position of power, especially one that was so deserved. So did it bum you out that Kelsey lost it under those technological circumstances?
Absolutely. The poor girl went through it this season. The show does such a good job at tackling the truth and peppering in all of these nuggets of what’s going on socially, what’s acceptable, and what isn’t. It sucks. She got beat up pretty bad. I don’t think it’s fair that she had to step down because of that. It seems women aren’t allowed to make mistakes anymore. In this day and age, everything is documented and publicly known. Part of it is great, I guess, to uncover truths when that needs to happen. But human beings are human beings. It’s not like Kelsey was doing anything that inappropriate. I hate that a young woman put in a position of power, who already has a little tinge of something impure about it — like, how she got the job as publisher and how they placed her there — ended up taking the fall for some pretty big stuff.

Kelsey has consistently been undermined by Charles, even when she was his boss, so I thought his offer of the board seat was telling of their relationship. What did that moment mean to you?
I don’t think that’s enough. I think what he did to her this season was really dirty and unfair. I’m always so hard on Charles, but I love Peter Hermann. [Laughs.] The way they write Charles, I’m always like, What the hell? He’s always out for himself. He proposed to Liza at someone else’s wedding! And he gave Kelsey that deal in a church at someone else’s wedding! Be better! He’s totally out for himself and doing what’s good for himself. Hilary, personally, isn’t happy with it!

What would be the fair thing for Charles to do, then?
Part of me is like, he should give Liza and Kelsey their own publishing house. Empirical is dead in the water, they need to move on. I know it’s a family company, but it’s not holding up.

If Charles means what he said about Kelsey being family, do you think she looks at him the same way? Perhaps as a father figure?
I think it’s a dysfunctional father figure, and I hope Kelsey figures that out next season. She has a lot of respect about how she’s gotten to where she’s gotten, and in the past, Charles has been pure, focused, and loving. But then this big shift happened when he fell in love with Liza. He got off track and now it’s purely dysfunctional. It doesn’t mean she’s ungrateful and she doesn’t care about him, but I hope next season Kelsey doesn’t stay.

Where do you hope she goes? It’s interesting, because the question of ego comes up a lot in the finale, especially in regards to how Kelsey wants to move her career forward she wants to work for herself on “something she owns,” even if some people are cautioning her against it. Does her attitude strike you as egotistical?
She’s definitely a little egotistical and it’s a key thing that drives her, but she doesn’t ever do it to hurt other people. She’s very conscious of other people’s feelings and what’s fair. She’s a fair fighter. She doesn’t have any more interest in Quinn — she strayed just for a second and thought maybe it could become something. I do think she’s going to go out on her own, though, and I’d love to see her do that. She’s a millennial and she’s ambitious and she wants to own her own company, and that’s the way it should work now. Everyone’s fighting for not working for “the man” and creating their own success.

I’m really looking forward to Kelsey’s first day on the board, where I imagine she’ll walk into a baker’s dozen of dads in suits.
They’re all going to be scratching their heads, thinking, How the hell did you get in here? You lost?

I also think it’s incredible that you’ll be pulling double “30-something in Brooklyn” duty with Lizzie McGuire. Why was this the right time for you to come back to Lizzie? Hilary, I screamed!
It’s been in talks for so many years with Disney, and I kept a great relationship with them. It’s so great that I can talk about this now! [Laughs.] I obviously love Lizzie so much. We’re connected and tethered at the soul for life. It just wasn’t right until now. I wasn’t excited or moved with any of the ideas I heard, or I wasn’t coming up with any ideas myself to pitch. I didn’t just want to come back because everybody loved her from a moment in time that stuck with them for a lifetime. I never thought, Revival shows are a thing, so I guess we’ll do this one.

Finally being in my 30s, it felt like a good time to revisit her. It’s a complicated stage. That’s what people loved about Lizzie so much — that phase of becoming a teenager. It’s such a complicated but fun part of time to navigate. She was everyone’s best friend. She was faced with every challenge that was relatable. Now, I think stepping into the role as a 30-year-old trying to navigate life is equally interesting. Or more specifically, waking up on your 30th birthday and thinking, This isn’t how I planned this to look, what do I do now? That’s an interesting story to me, and that’s a good journey I want to go on with everyone again who was there for her preteen years.

Will the show be set entirely in New York?
She’s not going to stay in Brooklyn too long, actually. That’s where she’s been, but she’ll be coming back to Los Angeles. She’s forced out of New York. She’s like, I can’t be here anymore. 

Are you as devastated as the nation that she isn’t with Gordo?
You know what, I don’t know if I was as devastated by that.

Ah! 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? You’re always kind of wondering. We wanted it to hurt everyone a little bit, and it’ll continue to hurt. I really hope he’s going to be involved. We’ve been planning out the season and coming up with what everything looks like, and it’s so important for him to be there for part of it.

Hilary Duff on Her Bumpy Younger Season and Lizzie McGuire