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Movies, TV aside, Hilary Duff is a normal kid

hat's on the mind of Hilary Duff?

Let's see. She's 15 years old … then it must be … yes, getting her driver's license. Duff hasn't had time to take driver's ed yet, and she's bummed.

Just like any 15-year-old kid.

"I feel like a normal teenager," says Duff, who lives in California with her mother, older sister and their fox terrier/Chihuahua mix, but spends holidays with the whole family in Houston, where her father's business is located. "When I'm not working, I just want to be with my friends."

But, of course, she's not just any kid. She's an "actress" — and a very busy one at that. In addition to her new movies — "Agent Cody Banks" and "The Lizzie McGuire Movie" — she's working on a remake of "Cheaper by the Dozen," with Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt. After that there's an updated Cinderella movie.

Still, she manages to stay grounded. Disney Channel executive Gary Marsh has watched Duff grow up over three years of work on "Lizzie McGuire." "She goes through the slings and arrows of adolescence in front of us," he says, explaining that sometimes she would be worried on the set whether a boy she was interested in would call her that night.

Marsh describes Duff as fairly close to her TV character, the sweet and sometimes bumbling Lizzie.

"She's adorable No. 1," says Marsh. "She's a smart kid and she's close enough to her character that Lizzie McGuire is an extension of her. She has more confidence than Lizzie McGuire, and that's grown over the years."

Enough so that she now feels like a pro — and a celebrity — as she flies around the country filming movies and getting recognized by fans. But there's still a downside.

"It's hard for me to go out sometimes, to the mall or to a restaurant," she says. "I go out of town a lot to make movies and I don't have my friends there, so I get a little lonely. But I like working, so it's kind of a trade-off."

As for boyfriends, there isn't one for now, which is just fine with the ninth-grader, who studies four hours a day with a tutor. "I don't really want to date anybody in the business, and I don't really meet normal boys because I'm not in school."

But when she does, she'll be ready to impress him. Like her TV alter ego, Duff is a clotheshorse.

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"I'm really into purses, handbags, belts, stuff like that," she says. "Shoes, yeah, shoes."

MORE MIGHTY MOUSE STARS Hilary Duff is just one of many child stars that the Disney Channel is nurturing. Meet some of her colleagues:

- Christy Carlson Romano is the voice of the title character in the animated series "Kim Possible," and she played the brainy Ren Stevens, one of the leads in the sitcom "Even Stevens." The 18-year-old is studying international relations at Columbia University.

- Shia LaBeouf snared his first major role as Louis Stevens in "Even Stevens." The 16-year-old actor starred as a developmentally challenged teen in the Disney made-for-TV movie "Tru Confessions." He has roles in the upcoming big-screen movies "Holes," based on a Louis Sachar children's novel, and "Charlie's Angels 2."

- Raven-Symone plays Raven Baxter, the lead in Disney Channel's "That's So Raven," and hers is the voice of Monique on "Kim Possible." Before joining Disney, this 17-year-old actress appeared as Olivia Kendall on "The Cosby Show" and as Nicole Lee on "Hanging With Mr. Cooper."

Copyright © 2003 Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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