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Hilary Duff talks 'Bloodworth,' pregnancy bellies and stripper poles

The former Disney kid stars in a new drama about a troubled Tennessee family

LOS ANGELES — Hilary Duff is aiming to shake off her Disney Channel past, and she’s starting with “Bloodworth,” a drama about a troubled Tennessee family led by absentee father and country crooner E.F. Bloodworth (Kris Kristoferson). And while Duff didn’t lend her vocal talents to the film, she does have plans to return to music while seeking out more grown-up roles.

What drew you to this project?

Obviously I hope people will see it and think I did a good job in it and see me in a different way than how they’ve watched me grow up, in more lighthearted films. But it is different. I think every actor’s looking for a challenge, to play something different and to be part of a project with other great actors. It was a great experience, and I think I’ve been trying to choose roles like that, obviously, on purpose.

Was it easy to identify with your character?

I didn’t find it easy to identify with her, but I grew up in Texas and we had a house in the hill country that we’d go to often — and it was really deep into the country. We had a few friends there growing up that were like caretakers of our property, and I actually used them a lot for inspiration because they just had such a quiet life. The town was pretty incestuous — just back roads, country stuff. I didn’t relate to it, but I felt like I had some things to draw from.

You had to wear a pregnancy belly for some of the film. How was that?

It was funny. I think they’ve made them before that actually feel heavier and more substantial, but mine was kind of like a lumpy old pillow. So I was just squishing it around a lot and trying to get it to look more like a round bump instead of some lumpy thing. But I got to have a big dress on and could definitely eat more and not be as conscious about sitting pretty, like a girl. You can kind of sit wide-legged and waddle around. It was fun. Except it probably would look bad if someone didn’t know we were shooting a movie and saw people coming up and pushing the lump in my stomach, slapping it. My husband — who was my boyfriend at the time — was on set, and he was just like, “You look ridiculous.”

Maybe he was worried you wanted to start your own family?

Right. [laughs] He was like, “Don’t get any ideas.” I mean, we’ve only been married a year, and he plays hockey so he’s away from September to April, and we don’t really get that much time together. So we’re looking to wait. I still want to work more.

Sheila Kelley, who plays your mom, pioneered the pole-dance workout. Did she teach you how to pole-dance?

Oh my God, for my bachelorette party we definitely went to Sheila’s studio. My sister got us these clear, like, stripper shoes. It was so funny. My arms were all sore the next day and everything.

Do you have plans to continue your music career?

I do, actually. I’m just starting to kind of build a new team of people, and I’m going to start writing, and I think I’m going to make another record. It’s been four years, and I really just needed that time to take a break and reevaluate and just grow a little bit outside of just being on stage and stuff. I’m trying to change people’s perception of who I am now and accept that. I think it’s the right time now, and I’ve got that itch.