Interview: Miley Cyrus Sings Last Song as Hannah Montana
SANTA MONICA, Calif. - Harper's Bazaar magazine recently described Miley Cyrus as a billion-dollar franchise.
But she's still a teenager as well as being a performing superstar. So should we be surprised that she suffers from insecurity?
Forget that aura of self-confidence. She is prone to anxieties. But being Miley Cyrus, she must shove such worries aside and forge onward and upwards.
"There's not a lot of time to waste to sit there and be insecure about things, or not confident," she says, her voice is deep, slightly twangy, her delivery rapid-fire. "I'm like any other girl or guy ... I feel that I'm not good enough for this or not good enough for that. But there's something about me that's like a drive - that I know I can do anything if I set my mind to it."
Sitting opposite her in this quiet hotel suite overlooking the Pacific, you're aware of her laser-like concentration. For the duration of this interview, Miley Cyrus will give you her full attention. In a matter of seconds, she has switched over from a chatty exchange with a publicist to plunking herself on a sofa and focusing intently on whatever questions will be asked. And she's definitely her own person - wearing a black jacket with puffy sleeves, with over-sized rings bedecking her fingers and black leather bracelets slipping up and down her wrists as she gestures to make a point.
Insecurities aside, she is strikingly self-possessed - so much so that you keep forgetting that she's only 17. But she also has this mature self-awareness - and this honesty.
"I definitely have a lot to learn, a lot more I want to do. But I'm at a good place in my life and I'm really happy with all the career choices that I've made."
She's here to talk about her new movie, The Last Song, a dramatic piece far removed from the giddy world of Hannah Montana. In the Disney release opening March 31, she portrays Ronnie, a rebellious teenager thrust unwillingly into a summer reunion with her estranged father played by Greg Kinnear. She feels good about the film, which was especially written for her by novelist Nicholas Sparks, but she also wants to talk about transitions in her life - the approaching end of Hannah Montana's hugely popular television run and her decision to put away childish things, especially the lure of social networking sites on the Web.
But as the old Miley yields to the new, one factor remains constant - her steely will to succeed. This dates back to when she was a little girl, the determined daughter of country music singer Billy Ray Cyrus.
"Always I wanted to be the best, and if I wasn't I would keep practising until I was. I was always constantly learning. Even when I was eight or nine, I told my mom I wanted to have my own 'cleaning' service cause I wanted to work, I wanted to have a job."
So there she was - not even 10 yet and cleaning neighbours' windows.
"I wanted to have a purpose and wake up each day with something new to do and a reason to work. That is something which has always been really important to me ..."
There was also this burning childhood ambition to perform. Attending a concert by Poison was the catalyst. " ... Seeing the stage and the guitars and the crowds screaming and thinking: this is something I want to be involved in."
Now, this multi-platinum recording artist is moving on. There are seven more episodes to film of the fourth and final season of Hannah Montana, and a new album to finish, and then music will become "kind of my last priority.
"I'm going to take a break from music for a while and just enjoy film life. That's what really inspires me."
She does feel a twinge about the passing of the Disney Channel's Hannah Montana, the hit series about a girl who leads a double life as a pop diva and an ordinary youngster.
"It's going to be bittersweet - to end something that's so comfortable for me ..." But she wants people to see her as "something more than just this quirky Disney girl."
The new film also affected on her personal life - that was how she met her current boyfriend, Australia's Liam Hemsworth, who plays her romantic interest in the movie. Still, as with all Ronnie's relationships, their two characters have a rocky beginning because she - a promising young classical pianist - is so hostile toward the world that she trusts no one.
Her fans will encounter a different Miley this time.
"I've never really played anyone but Hannah Montana," she admits. "So to play someone who comes in so broken and at the end becomes such a wonderful person ... I just love how it all flows and how everyone changes and they all grow."
Indeed, her own personal growth is what Miley's all about these days. That's why she has no regrets about cancelling her Twitter account despite the consternation it caused fans.
"I just kind of got tired of telling people what I'm doing," she told a news conference before sitting down with Canwest News Service. "I have no normal life, everyone knows what I'm doing and where I'm going - and that's my fault because I'm telling everyone. And then I tweet - I'm here! - and I'm wondering why a thousand fans are outside the restaurant. Well hello - you just told them."
She accepts that she can't really be a normal person. Yet she considers the Twitter frenzy perfectly understandable for someone like her: " ... you're 17 and your friends are 17, and they're allowed to have a Twitter and talk to their friends at school and say, 'Hey class, what's cool today?' "
So it's natural for the teenage Miley to find herself saying: "OK I want to have normality, I want to be a bit more like them, I want to do the things that they do ..."
Trouble is, she can't because she's a celebrity.
"You're NOT them," she says bluntly. People care about her private life too much, she finds.
Celebrities like herself "want to be like the friends that they see and the normal people that they see, and the sad truth of that is that we're not. We're not the normal kids."
Part of Miley believes it's unhealthy for kids to be on the Internet at all. She sometimes hangs out with friends who are so busy taking pictures of what they're doing to put on Facebook that "they're not really enjoying what they're doing."
She can even sound like an older sister giving advice. "I'm telling kids, don't be on the Internet. It's dangerous. It's not fun. It ruins your life ..."
Certainly, she knows that the Web has contributed to many misconceptions about her - perhaps the biggest being that she's keen about the attention she gets from paparazzi and the media. "I'm not," she says firmly. "I don't want my life to be what people want to watch more than my films. And more about listening to drama about me than my music. I don't want people to assume that I'm obsessed with media and attention. That's not what gives me the high - it's the work."
Furthermore, some of the stuff surfacing on the Web and in the media is positively hurtful. She once read that her parents were in a car crash. "I start calling my parents and I get can't hold of them ..." She pauses and shakes her head.
"Then there are the stupid things. I'm pregnant this day. I'm dead the next day. I'm this, I'm that."
These things make her "a little bit pissed off. . . . I've got a little sister and I would never want her to be at school one day and someone saying - did you read this, is it true?'"
Being a role model for other teenagers also has its challenges because many people have unreasonable expectations about how she should behave.
"If I wasn't a celebrity, no parent could dictate the way that I live, and just because I'm in the spotlight, they shouldn't do it either. My job is to be an actress and a singer and do what I love and be a good person. But it's not my job to be a parent. And I'm done taking on that responsibility."
The Last Song opens wide March 31.