Hannah Montana (and her alter ego Miley Cyrus) have been in the eye of a tween/teen pop culture tornado for the past three years, courtesy of the massively popular Disney Channel TV show. 200 million viewers worldwide tune in to the TV show, so naturally there is now a cinematic version which tells the story of Hannah's popularity beginning to take over Miley's life. Art imitating life? Life imitating Art? Buzzine's Emmanuel Itier sat down with Miley in Hollywood, CA to talk films, tv, music and fame.
Emmanuel Itier: Is the movie saying goodbye to the show?
Miley Cyrus: The movie isn’t saying “goodbye” to Hannah Montana because we did a really clever job of making it where we weren’t saying goodbye quite yet, but it was allowing the reality to show through that a double life like that wouldn’t necessarily work, but it also gives us an opportunity to continue to do the series, which is what we’ve been doing. We’ve been doing a third season, so we made it where we’re able to keep the series going but also keep the show and the film real, ’cause that’s what film’s all about.
EI: You are a role model for little girls. What do you do that’s worth imitating for them?
MC: I definitely want to be a role model and I want people to be able to look up to me, ’cause that is part of my job and that’s what I love, but it’s hard for me to be a role model and then again have to act like a parent as well. I can’t because, even though they’re growing up, so am I, and so people have to respect me enough to understand that while I learn, their kids will too. I want them to watch me, and when I make good decisions, make those good decisions, and when I make mistakes, learn from them, because I will too.
EI: You’ve got a lot of younger female fans that look up to you as a role model. What about the guys that love you? You’ve become a beautiful pin-up girl for them. How does that feel?
MC: I don’t think about it that often. I don’t think of myself as a pin-up girl, but I guess it’s kind of cool. It keeps my boyfriend on his toes, I suppose.
EI: Do you find yourself in a position of being tired of being famous? Would you want to change or do something else?
MC: No matter what field of business you’re in or what you do, there are always going to be times where you’re stressed and unhappy. But for me, when I get to look out into an audience and see 10,000 girls singing the words I wrote, that means something to me. When I felt pain and they feel pain they can relate to, that’s where, that’s when it really means something to me, and that’s where it makes everything worthwhile.
EI: Yesterday you said you initially didn’t think there should be a movie about the Hannah Montana series because it’s sort of a limited view of the world. Can you elaborate a little bit on that?
MC: Well, at first I was a little concerned about “how are we going to make this?” because this isn’t a reality, it’s not something that would work…how are we going to make it where we can keep the younger fans, and how are we going to make it where we can keep the story and not completely reveal? Because we don’t want the series to end because we have a season three coming up and we’re also in talks about a season four, which we’ll hopefully do. We wanted to find a creative way to make it realistic and also fun and a comedy and romance and whatnot, and I think we did a good job of doing that.
It was just scary at first, because it would be my first real feature film, where I’m a lead anyways, and there’s a first time for everything, but I like my first everything to be close to perfect, so we wanted that to happen. But it’s hard to do when you’re so limited because you’ve already got a story. It’s not like any other movie where you can say, “Oh, I don’t like her character. Let’s just kick her out!” ’cause you can’t kick it out ’cause it’s a series and you can’t change things up. We’ve already talked so much about where I am from, you can’t change that, so it was kind of limited, but Miles [Millar] and Al [Gough], the producers, did an awesome job, the writers were amazing, and the producers of the series were very involved, but they also were so cool to let us mix and match with the show.
EI: Did you bring in any ideas to the story-line yourself?
MC: I feel like I brought in some cool ideas. We have a Hannah Box, and they’re like, “What can we keep in here?” and we just threw fun things in there, but also I was like, “It should be this, it should be that…it shouldn’t look like a normal make-up box because it’s Hannah — it’s this whole different vibe.” I think I helped mostly try to separate it, because I was like, “No, this is what a Tennessee girl looks and acts like; its not the exaggerated version of a cowgirl hat and boots — that’s not what a normal girl is.” So I guess I had more ideas of how to make it real because that’s what I want to do.
EI: Last year you mentioned the idea of having a tour in 2009. Are you still planning to tour South America, Australia…?
MC: Yeah, I’m planning on going everywhere I can, and I’m excited.
EI: When will that be?
MC: Not sure of an exact date, but later this year, I hope.
EI: Are you still angry with Radiohead, and what have you learned from that experience?
MC: There’s no reason to be angry with anyone. Like we show in the movie, paparazzi will try to do anything to make it a feud or whatnot, or some big secret, but right now, I’m just really focused on the movie and not anything else, so I guess I’m kind of over it, I suppose.
EI: What about environmental issues? Are you into global warming?
MC: Yeah, that’s what I do with Youth Service America — we do a whole thing where kids could find ways…it doesn’t matter what you do, but as long as you’re doing something. It doesn’t matter if you’re cleaning up trash or if you’re going house to house and asking people what they want to do to help — big or small, if you’re doing something, you’re making a difference, so that’s the way I think of it.
EI: Do you believe your generation can actually save the world?
MC: I think so much has been done and it’s a lot to undo, but I think we can because we’ve got so many different technologies of seeing what’s wrong and whatnot, and I think there’s a way to do that, but we can’t do that without anyone’s help.
EI: I was watching the South Park episode when they killed Britney Spears, and they explained to the kids, “You know this was a plan, and now the next Britney Spears will be Miley.” What do you think when they say you’re going to be like that, always followed by paparazzi, always in the middle of the media frenzy — what do you think?
MC: I don’t know. Mostly, right now, I’m just working hard not to be like that, but she’s had a great career and I feel like what the media does try to do is take a great career and only focus on the things where she’s gone wrong and not the fact that she sold probably more records than anyone else and she made an amazing movie, and that’s definitely a career. That’s not our job to worry about what goes on in her personal life — it’s her movies, and if I could have a career like hers, where she is still selling out and she’s been touring since she was 17, I would…
EI: Can you tell us a little bit about your father –what he means for you in your life and how much of an influence he’s had?
MC: Yeah, he’s had a big influence on me, because he’s the one who has tried most to allow me to do what I love and also keep me protected and keep me safe. I love him more than anything else in the world. He’s the greatest dad ever, and I think people want funny stories and bad things to say and embarrassing moments that he’s done to me, but my dad isn’t that way. My dad loves me unconditionally, and I think that’s the greatest part about being able to work with him — I’ll always have someone around to keep me safe.
EI: Earlier, when we talked to him, he compared show business to a rabbit hunt — it’s all about the chase…
MC: That sounds like my dad.
EI: Is that an analogy you’ve heard before?
MC: Yeah, he is right about that, because it is crazy and you never know what’s going to happen. This is the beginning of my film career and I don’t know how long it’s going to last, but I love what I do and I think you’ve got to be careful, and if you continue to love what you do, I think that’s the best way to be.
EI: Do you feel overprotected?
MC: No, like I said, my dad is the coolest guy ever and he just wants me to be happy. There can be anyone in the media who is always looking for something bad to happen, but I would love to say something funny that he did, and usually I can find something funny that happens and make a funny story out of it. But with my dad, I just can’t ’cause he really is one of the coolest guys and he loves me and takes care of me, and that’s all I can ask for.
EI: Is your dad more of a friend first and parent second? Because that’s how he explains it…
MC: My dad, definitely, when he explains it, I think is a friend first and a parent second. He has meant that in the way where he wants me to be happy and he loves me so much, because that’s where the parent kicks in. Because with a friend, you never know — it can be very fickle and it can change, but the love for my dad will never, and he’s definitely my friend. He’s a great parent, and people can rat on him and say he’s not raising me right or whatnot, but I feel like if people went to a normal high school and saw the way that 90% of kids act, I think they would say my dad’s a really good dad.
EI: Would you like to see Hannah’s romance be shown in the show?
MC: I don’t know, we’ll see. Right now, we’ve got the movie pretty separate from the show and we’re allowing hints in the movie, but we want to keep the movie as real as possible and not just make it look like an extended version of the show.
EI: Yeah but it’s also part of the show…
MC: It does have to drag on, but it does have to go into it, but it doesn’t necessarily mean we want to bring the characters into it, because then, the way they act and the way he is so mellow in the movie…if you bring that into a sitcom, where we’re in front of a live audience all the time, it doesn’t work as well. So maybe — I’m not sure. We like to keep it separate, so we can get the reality of it all and it doesn’t seem like a neverending movie.
EI: Your dad said that we should bring up Thomas Edison…
MC: He told you that? That’s funny. He always does this one, where it’s like “the most important ingredient to success is failure,” and he says it all the time, so that’s probably why he wants me to go roll my eyes. But I love that my dad is really smart and he’s always got the most random quotes, I swear. One day they’re the chasing turkeys, and then they’re Thomas Edison, but he’s always got good ways and good mottos for you to remember.
EI: How did fame change you?
MC: I think I’ve had to grow up pretty quickly and mature faster than others, but I wouldn’t say it’s changed me, because for me, it’s a job second and it’s my life first.
EI: Miley has some difficulties in the movie with her romance in trying to make that happen in her life — I suppose one of the downsides of you being famous. How hard is it for you to have a relationship in your real life?
MC: It can be hard. I think some of the downsides mostly is — we made it a joke — the paparazzi. We brought Oswald in and made it funny and silly, but also it is really an issue. I think you’ve just got to find someone who can gel really well with it, and my boyfriend is one of those people. We’ve been together seven months and there has never really been a problem, even though it can be a pain, no matter who you are, to have paparazzi following you all the time. But it’s just part of the territory, I guess, and it’s something you just have to deal with.
EI: Have your brother and sister adjusted well to fame?
MC: Actually, they have adjusted really well and they’ve got their own things — my older brother is in a band. He’s really huge in Australia and Germany right now. It’s the two biggest places they’ve been focusing on now, and it’s awesome for him, and he’s really adjusted well. My older sister, I think, has had it the hardest because she’s 22 and doesn’t really know exactly what she wants to do yet, and I’ve always known what I wanted to do, so that’s hard. But my younger brother is this incredible artist. He is an amazing painter, and my little sister is talented beyond belief, and I think they’ve all got their own things. But I think the hardest is for the oldest one and the youngest one, because my sister is older than me and doesn’t quite know yet, and my little sister is still trying to follow all of us. She sees us all doing music — even my older sister is a guitarist, so she’s singing and all, and I think she’s trying to fall into this, but it’s hard.
EI: Do you think you will have to choose between being a singer and an actress?
MC: I don’t think I’ll have to choose. Film comes first to me ’cause it’s my favorite thing to do. I love music, but genres change. But comedy’s comedy and drama’s drama, and I work really hard to make sure to continue to do music, but also people take me seriously as an actresss.
EI: What advice would you give to youngsters that want to follow in your footsteps?
MC: Be confident and always believe in yourself. That’s the most important thing that anyone has ever told me. The biggest thing people look for is confidence.
EI: What would be a perfect day for you?
MC: To sleep in. I’m a night owl; I stay up all night and then the 6:00 a.m. call turns around and I’ve gotten two hours of sleep, so I would just love a day to sleep in and hang out by the pool, and hang out with my mom.
EI: How do you spend your nights, when you’re awake?
MC: I write, and I read a little bit, and watch movies.
EI: What do you read?
MC: I just finished Catcher in the Rye, and I watched Chapter 27. If you haven’t seen it, you should — it’s amazing. It’s the 27th chapter of Catcher in the Rye. It’s really good. I like reading. I like staying up, I like relaxing, ’cause it’s the one time that everyone else is asleep and I can have my time.
EI: Are you romantic?
MC: As romantic as a tomboy can be, I suppose. I think I’m a little less girly. I’m a songwriter, so what can I say? I go with words.
EI: Do you go night-clubbing?
MC: Clubs? Oh, no. I’m not old enough yet.
EI: Do you have any interest in that?
MC: I don’t think so. It’s too crowded. I’m a little claustrophobic, so no thank you, and I can’t get in.
EI: Can you identify with Holden Caulfield?
MC: I’m not psycho, hopefully not. I don’t think I can identify with him. He’s a little crazy. But I actually said, when I was reading the book, he overthinks everything, and I’m almost a little bit like that, where he’ll take something that, if you’ve read the book recently, he has this friend Jane who he’s obsessed about, and I’m kind of like that. I’ll meet someone and I’ll be like, “Dang, I really hope they liked me. Maybe they didn’t like me,” and stress and stress and stress about it…but I’m not psycho.
EI: What is the best place to write?
MC: Just being at home. I love being out by the pool, and we have a waterfall in our backyard. It’s really beautiful. I like being alone.
EI: Hannah loves being in Nashville. What about you?
MC: I love being home in Nashville ’cause it’s one of those places… I really got to enjoy the tranquility of everything, and that was the best thing for me — enjoying the peace and the quiet.
'Hannah Montana: The Movie' is in theaters now from Disney Pictures