First it was Ellen’s star-studded Oscar selfie. Then it was Kim Kardashian’s oiled-up, butt-baring magazine cover. And the latest photo to break the internet comes to us from none other than Jake Thomas, also known as the troublemaking little brother, Matt, from “Lizzie McGuire.”
It’s been over a decade since the beloved Disney Channel show bid us goodbye, but the nostalgia is still alive and strong. That was never more obvious than when Thomas posted a pic on Instagram this week of his mini- reunion with “Lizzie” stars Hilary Duff and Lalaine, who played Lizzie’s BFF Miranda.
Unfortunately, Thomas posted little information other than the vague caption, “So this happened last night...#LizzieMcGuire.” That left fans everywhere speculating what could’ve brought this adorable gift from the TV gods to life. So to get the full scoop, we went straight to the source himself.
Thomas, 25, lives in Studio City, CA, and is working toward a degree in screenwriting and a minor in Japanese. He’s still acting — his latest film “Romantically Speaking” premiered last month — and photography has become a big passion in his life.
Turns out, Thomas and Lalaine reconnected a few months ago after she attended his birthday party. They both live in Los Angeles and hang out pretty frequently (in fact, she was on her way to his place when I spoke to him). On Monday night (April 20), the two pals decided to go bowling at PINZ in Studio City, where they rendezvoused with Duff by total coincidence.
“So we went bowling the other night…and we heard Hilary’s voice a few lanes down and we weren’t really sure if it was her at first,” Thomas told MTV News. “We looked over and eventually we were like, ‘Yeah, that’s her!’ Neither of us had seen her in well over a decade. We thought it’d be funny if we sent a drink over. So the waiter goes and brings the drink to her and she looks over and sees us and then we all hugged and talked and caught up a little bit. [Duff] looked at me and she’s like, ‘You’re a man!’ She kept saying, ‘You’re a man! This is weird!’”
As you may remember, Duff had revealed in a radio interview earlier that day that she was going bowling that night with a guy she met on Tinder. Thomas said he didn’t get to meet the lucky fella, but he guessed the impromptu “Lizzie” mini-reunion probably overshadowed anything else that happened that night.
“I had no idea she was on a Tinder date! No clue,” he admitted. “After [we saw her], it was probably a hot topic between her and her friends, so I don’t know if it altered the night in a good way or a bad way.”
Shockingly, Thomas said it had been about 12 or 13 years — just after “The Lizzie McGuire Movie” came out — since he had seen Duff. But recently, he’s been trying to reconnect with his former cast mates, including Clayton Snyder (who played heartthrob Ethan Craft) and his former onscreen dad, Robert Carradine, whom he’s visited on the set of Carradine’s TBS show “King of the Nerds.”
“We all really went off and did our own things,” Thomas said about post-“Lizzie” life. “And I’ve slowly, in the past year, been trying to catch up with everyone. I’m really glad I have…it’s been really good to see everyone. You know, they were my family growing up and now it’s a little bit of a family reunion.”
After Thomas posted the photo on Instagram, a lot of fans were struck with the same burning question: where’s Gordo?! Lizzie’s occasionally platonic friend, played by Adam Lamberg, was noticeably missing and definitely would’ve been the icing on the scrumptious reunion cake, but Thomas said there’s a good reason why he wasn’t there: he lives on the other side of the country.
“I’ve talked with him a little bit in the past few months,” Thomas said. “He’s doing great. He’s living in New York and getting his masters degree, I believe. It’s also interesting to note, he doesn’t do social media. So all the social media accounts — the Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter — that people think is him, is actually not him.”
In any case, Thomas insisted the cast and crew were like family to him, and he’s thrilled that the show he grew up on has had such a long and lasting legacy.
“It’s weird that it is a show that became so nostalgic and that people had such a close and really personal kind of relationship with,” he said. “You know, we only did two seasons, 65 episodes, which is relatively short compared to what Disney shows are doing now. And I think we didn’t really know how influential the show was going to be when we were doing it. We really, really enjoyed filming it and we had just some of the best crew and cast. Everyone was like a huge family. I think all that kind of came across on screen, I like to think, to make it so influential and make it such a good-feeling kind of show.”
Though he admits he doesn’t see how anyone’s still able to recognize him, (“I look extremely different but people can still pick me out in a crowd!”), Thomas said being approached by fans is exciting because it proves the show’s fan base hasn’t wavered.
“All the people who did grow up with that show are now in their 20s and it’s cool to talk about it again,” he said. “Because when you get to the teens, they're like, “No, I didn't watch 'Lizzie McGuire,' are you kidding me? That show was lame!’ And now, everyone’s like, ‘No, I love that show, are you kidding me?!’ I’ll have a guy walk up to me that could be a football jock or whatever and he’s like, ‘Dude, I used to watch ‘Lizzie McGuire’ all the time! And it totally wasn’t about the girls, it was about Matt McGuire, man. He was awesome!’”
As Thomas’ viral photo proved, “Lizzie McGuire” fans are clearly thirsty for more. In a blog post he wrote Wednesday, Thomas teased another potential reunion, saying, “perhaps there’s something in the works very soon.” When we pressed him on it, Thomas remained tight-lipped, but definitely hinted at the possibility.
“We’ll see, but I can’t comment on anything right now,” he said.
Fair enough. We’ll just be over here waiting in excruciating impatience while you "get one step closer each and every day"...we’re sure you’ll "figure it out on the way."