Miley Cyrus is growing up fast. The young star that millions of youths know as Hannah Montana is taking on larger roles and tackling more dramatic themes. Her latest film is The Last Song, where Miley plays Ronnie: a teenager who’s upset with her father, played by Greg Kinnear, for divorcing her mother and leaving the family. Unfortunately for Ronnie, she’s forced to spend the summer with her father and hates every minute of it. Luckily, she meets Will (Liam Hemsworth) and discovers that love is a little more complicated than it seems. Miley spoke with Buzzine about her experiences working on the film and working with her talented costars.
René S. Garcia, Jr.: What was it like to have somebody write this for you?
Miley Cyrus: It was cool because everything that I’ve done [has been a version of me], even Hannah Montana, which is a character and not me. There are still elements that are very much like me personally. It made it easier to go into something new in a film that wasn’t based on Hannah Montana and wasn’t such a comfort zone, to make it a little bit more like me.
RSG: This is a change for your career, especially with Hannah Montana ending now. How do you feel about that progression?
MC: It’s interesting to be doing press for this type of movie when, right now on the Disney Channel, it’s airing one of the last episodes of Season 3 and we’re finishing up Season 4. As a new chapter is beginning, one that has also been my life for the last five years is ending. It’s interesting to be leaving my security blanket behind, but also it’s also exciting getting involved in this movie. The season needed a complete ending for Season 3, and our show deserved that too. It’s such a big deal in so many kids’ lives that I think they don’t want to see reruns forever. They want a really respectful ending. It’s been such an amazing journey.
RSG: This is your first romantic role. What did you learn from this experience that you’re going to take with you for the rest of your career?
MC: Once I saw one of the final edits — there are all these different things you pick yourself apart about — and I think you should just go into each day and give it your best. Don’t get too attached to anything. Everyone has their job. I know that everyone else is doing the best they can with what they do, and I’ll do the best I can. So I just try to keep that in mind and take it day by day and realize that, at the end, there’ll be an edit… So just don’t criticize yourself.
RSG: In making this transition, how careful do you have to be in your choices, and what you think about when you look at your work?
MC: I’ve gone these last five years of doing Hannah Montana and everyone telling me what to do, and now it’s kind of up to me and what I think is right in my career. I have to be careful, in a sense, not to lose who I am and the Miley Cyrus factor by doing other characters, and I still want [people] to know who I am, but I want to extend my audience and continue to do what I love but give myself new challenges and not do the same person over and over again.
RSG: What was your first impression of Liam?
MC: I got a little bit nervous about how big he was [height-wise]. I was going to have to stand on apple boxes or something. I was a little bit intimidated, even though I’m really the one intimidating someone else. They kept telling me that [Liam] works a lot in Australia. He’s awesome. So I was little bit nervous with everything. I didn’t want to be the one who made the final decision [about Liam], because if he turned out to be crazy, I didn’t want to be the one who ruined the whole thing. He ended up being awesome and it was so fun. I was a bit intimidated, which is hard for someone to do that to me.
RSG: We’re used to seeing you play such a sweet girl. How difficult was it to channel the inner rebel? Did you talk to any other teenagers…?
MC: I got to drop the guard for a little while and throw all the fits I wanted to in the past year on-screen. It was fun to not have to go into work and be exactly what was on the page. I felt like Julie Anne (Robinson, director) gave us a lot of freedom to add our own things. I think that made it easier.
RSG: What aspects of Ronnie do you relate to most?
MC: I was glad I got to have some part in music in the film. It wasn’t necessarily singing, which is what everyone always wants to put me into things. I didn’t necessarily want to do that. I don’t want that to be the thing I always lean on, but I definitely relate to the music. The [love for] animals was really cool.
RSG: When describing your character’s journey, you say that she finds happiness through faith, love and friendship. What do you mean by faith?
MC: Faith can be believing in yourself or believing in a higher being that’s watching over you. It can mean anything, but I think the advantage is having something to lean on, and that’s what [Ronnie] didn’t have. I think if Ronnie had something to lean on, it was Will, it was her dad, and finally a new friendship.
RSG: A story like The Last Song can teeter into sentimentality. How did you find the line and not cross over?
MC: I think Julie Anne helped me with that the most. For a sad scene, I thought my character should cry, but [she said] no. The whole end of the film – the last 40 minutes can’t just be crying. It has to have some kind of dimension to it. I think that was the biggest thing I learned. I had to realize what it’s going to be like when you are watching an hour and half film and you don’t just want to see one type of emotion.
The Last Song opens on March 31st. Check back for Buzzine’s full review.