She dances with her creepy-crawly co-star in the politcal satire "War, Inc.," which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival Monday night.
Duff, 20, plays Yonica Babyyeah, a trashy teen pop star in the fictional country of Turaquistan. The character is a far cry from the wholesome girl she played on the Disney Channel's "Lizzie McGuire" and a lot different from the down-to-earth young woman she appears to be in real life.
The movie stars John Cusack as a hit man named Hauser hired by Tamerlane, a private corporation occupying Turaquistan. As his cover, Hauser produces a Tamerlane trade show with Babyeah's wedding as its public relations draw.
Hauser is both attracted to and repelled by the much younger Yonica. In one scene, she and Hauser are at a crowded nightclub where patrons are betting on a fight between two scorpions. She walks over and picks one of the scorpions up by the tail, drops him in her pants and begins to gyrate suggestively as it crawls around.
Duff said that she filmed the scene with a live scorpion.
"I had a pair of pants on that was a little bigger than my normal size so I could get some space between my body and the pants and try and drop it in," she said. "A couple of times it went all the way down to the floor, you know, and then sometimes it got stuck and I had to shake it out which was really scary. It didn't pinch me and we only did it about four or five times."
It doesn't sound like something Lizzie Maguire would do - at least on purpose. Duff said that while she was filming the movie, she worried about what her fans might think of her sexy character.
She said she's past that now.
"I have to make myself happy, you know, at the end of the day and I have to do things that challenge me in my work," she said.
"War, Inc." also stars Marisa Tomei and Ben Kingsley. It opens in New York and Los Angeles on May 23, 2008.
By Judy Rosen