Miley Cyrus is America’s sweetheart, best known for playing Hannah Montana, the television role that catapulted her to stardom. In the new Nicholas Sparks film, The Last Song, she plays a disillusioned teenager who finds love during a summer reconnecting with her estranged father. Miley talks about her on and off-screen romance, her love of acting, and finally leaving Hannah Montana behind.
Listen to the interview now: [audio: MileyInterviewPM.mp3]
Were you a Nicholas Sparks fan before you signed onto the project?
I was. They’re romantic and beautiful films but they have such a great message.
Walk to Remember was really successful, are you hoping that The Last Song will aspire to that sort of success?
I love how he collaborates with musicians and music, and then also love and family, but I love how he does incorporate music sometimes in his movies, I think that’s real cool.
You don’t sing properly in the film (Miley did record songs for the soundtrack). Was it something that you wanted to keep separate?
Yeah I just wanted people to see me as an actress rather than a musician always too, and to keep my careers kind of separate but I love that I was able to play the piano in the film.
Did you have to learn it for the film?
It was pretty easy because I can read music so it was easier than starting from scratch.
How long did it take you?
It took me about four or five lessons. I did some on and off while I was working. I would film and then come home and rehearse with a teacher real quick and just make sure I got it for the next day.
Do you want to focus on acting more than music?
Yeah I love acting, I think it’s something that people wouldn’t really expect, people see me more as a musician. I just want to change things up – I love acting so that’s what I’ve got my mind on right now.
You’re filming the last series of Hannah Montana. How are you feeling about leaving that behind?
It’s hard leaving your security blanket but also I am really excited to move on to a new chapter in my life, and just do more things that I want to do more than what other people necessarily want me to do or think I should do.
How did you prepare for the role in The Last Song – was there anything that you did before shooting?
It’s almost kind of like my mom’s story – my mom lost her dad when she was 18 and was very rebellious and went through a super hard time. I looked at her life and kind of modeled my character after it.
And you got to name your character [Ronnie]?
After my granddad.
Was that important for you as a way into the role and making it your own?
My agent told me that Nick said I could pick the character’s name – every time I heard that name it made me think of him and kept me inspired.
Julie Anne Robinson [director of The Last Song] described you as being like Julia Roberts, able to take on diverse roles. What sort of roles are you looking for?
I want to do everything – I don’t want to get settled into doing one type of film, or one career even. I like doing music and fashion, I just want to do a little bit of everything. I never want to get too comfortable in one setting.
Have you got any other films coming out?
I’ve done a film based on a French film called LOL with Demi Moore this summer. It’s about this mom who is going through a mid-life crisis and she’s kind of embarrassed to tell her daughter because she has her on such a high pedestal and she thinks should would never accept her. She finds her daughter’s diary one day and realises that her daughter is doing way worse things and she’s not as perfect as she thought she was and so they sort of go through this crisis together. I’m 19 in the film so it’s like they’re going in the same direction even though they’re mom/daughter.
You mention Demi, and also with the Julia Roberts comparison, is there an actress that you aspire to be like in a few years’ time?
I don’t want to set myself up to be like someone else, because then if you don’t do something like them then you are disappointed in yourself. I just want to be me and I hope one day someone can see me as someone they aspire to be like, or make film choices that I make, but I never want to give myself a person that I want to mimic my career after.
Is it true that one of the kissing scenes you had with Liam [Hemsworth, Miley’s co-star and off-screen boyfriend] was the first thing you shot?
It was the first thing. I guess it’s kind of a nice way to break the ice and know who you’re working with and then it’s never awkward or anything.
How did you find working together when you were starting a relationship in real life?
It made it easier because you want to come to work every day and make not only yourself look good in the film but the person that you really like look good, and that was the same way for all the cast. You want to be prepared and want to make them proud and yourself proud.
You’ve been in the limelight for a while now and he is just stepping into it. Have you offered him any advice?
The weird thing is we’re making the same transition at the same time. He did a lot of television shows in Australia, and when he’s in Australia people ask him for his autograph and all this stuff. The crazy thing to me is, although we are making very different transitions, I was making a transition from what everybody thought of me as – Hannah Montana, this TV star – and he’s making transition from a TV actor in Australia to more of an American movie star, so I think that’s pretty cool.
In the film, your character decides to go to prestigious music school Julliard. Do you have any plans to go to college?
I just want to focus on my career right now. My grandma went to college at 62 so it just proves that anytime you want to go, you can go. If I ever feel that it is right for me then I will.