Famous Teens: Miley Cyrus
We wake up Miley Cyrus to talk about chilling out in Tennessee for Hannah Montana: The Movie, what she misses most about living in Toronto and why dark little indie movies have her so stoked
By Marni Weisz
It's 10:30 on a Tuesday morning, and Miley Cyrus is still in bed, rolling around with her dog Loco. Or “dawg” as the 16-year-old says in her Southern drawl.
“He’s a shitsu, but he looks like an Ewok,” Cyrus coos over the phone from L.A. “He’s the funniest looking dog of all history, but I love him.”
Cyrus can be forgiven for sleeping in on a weekday. She’s been a busy
girl. On April 10th she’ll release the big-screen spinoff of her hugely
popular TV series, Hannah Montana, in which — with the help of a big, blond wig — her character Miley Stewart lives a second life as the pop star Hannah Montana.
Largely inspired by Cyrus’s own life, the movie has Miley Stewart
travelling back to her birthplace of Crowley Corners, Tennessee, just
outside Nashville — where the real Miley Cyrus was born — to get her
feet back on the ground.
“She’s supposed to be a celebrity and a normal girl but she’s kind of
forgetting the normal girl part and only realizing the diva lifestyle
and her dad has had enough of it — caring more about doing the covers
of magazines and performing and private planes than actually caring
about her family and her friends,” explains Cyrus, her earthy voice
making her seem much older than 16.
One particular shouting match with Tyra Banks (played by Tyra Banks) in a shoe store is the last straw. “Yes, there’s a shoe fight,” confirms Cyrus, a bit sheepishly. So Miley’s dad — played by her real-life dad, actor-singer Billy Ray Cyrus — tells her she’s going to New York City but actually sends her home to Tennessee. Once there, she rides horses, goes to country fairs, hangs out with cute cowboys and does all the things that help a big-city gal get back in touch with what’s important.
But wait a minute. If this movie is drawing on Cyrus’s real life, why isn’t she going to Toronto to get her feet back on the ground? Cyrus spent four of her most formative years — from age eight to 12 — in T.O. while her dad was filming the TV series Doc in Kleinberg, Ontario. And those were the years right before Miley got her big break with Hannah Montana, so it seems only fitting, no?
“Oh my God, I would love to go back to Toronto,” says Cyrus, just realizing the writer on the other end of the line is calling from her old hometown. “Just for the shopping, first of all. I loved living there with all the shopping and the cool clothes. You guys are so much more ahead than we are.”
Seriously? The shopping is better in Toronto than L.A.?
“So much better,” insists Cyrus. “Over the Rainbow is, like, my favourite store,” she says of the jeans boutique in the city’s upscale Yorkville neighbourhood. “It’s so cute.”
And therein lies the problem, says Cyrus. Aside from the fact that her producers “love the Southern vibe” that Tennessee provides, she says Toronto is the last place she would be able to chill out.
“I don’t know if I could get my feet back on the ground in Toronto,” she says, laughing, “because, for me, that was like — I loved doing theatre there, and all the shopping, and the malls and that kind of thing.”
Even our brutal winters wouldn’t be able to ground Miley. “I lived in the Beaches, right on [Lake] Ontario,” she recalls, “and I loved waking up every morning and seeing the snow covering the sand. I thought that was so awesome.”
In addition to attending plays in Toronto, Cyrus took acting classes at the Armstrong Acting Studio where she was the youngest in her class. “I’m not sure why, I’ve always related better to older kids,” she says. “Actually, the cast from Degrassi was there, and some other cool people were in the class with me. They would get me to write monologues and that kind of thing, express yourself and be able to show emotions through telling stories.”
Cyrus still keeps in touch with her acting teacher, Dean Armstrong, someone she may need again in a few years when her on-screen challenges become a little tougher than playing a polished-up version of herself. “I would love to do an indie film, something a little bit darker,” she says. “Maybe an action movie. That’s not really my thing, I don’t even watch action movies, but I’d like to do it because it seems like a challenge.”
The girl who has largely been the property of The Walt Disney Company for the past four years says what really turns her on is when a little independent movie is picked up by a big studio and becomes a huge success. Zach Braff’s Garden State is her favourite example. “I love stories like that,” she says. “People just make the film because they love it, and something ends up happening where God kind of takes it in his hands and makes it happen.”
Hmm. Maybe she is a Southern girl after all.
So, if Miley Stewart is based on Miley Cyrus, and this movie’s all about Miley Stewart letting her inner diva take over, there must be a few diva outbursts Cyrus will cop to.
“I mean, I’m sure I’ve had moments,” says Cyrus, who has taken some flack in the media for spending so much alone time with 20-year-old underwear model Justin Gaston. “But I couldn’t think of something that is really big. I never want to be rude to someone because that’s just not the way I’ve been brought up…. I don’t really find the reason to act like that because my job, to be honest, is a lot easier than most everyone else’s jobs in America. I get hair and makeup every morning, and wardrobe, and all that kind of thing. It’s pretty glamorous, so I don’t have much to complain about.”
Even when all the attention and the glamorous wardrobe, or lack thereof, gets Miley in trouble she’s not one to complain. Like the sexy photo shoot she did — wrapped only in a bed sheet — for Vanity Fair photographer Annie Leibovitz. Some thought it was inappropriate for a girl her age.
While Cyrus apologized publicly for disappointing her fans, she says the experience did not turn her off of photography, her favourite hobby. “No. Definitely not. It made me want to do it more ’cause it’s such a creative high,” she says. “It’s awesome.”
In fact, she says that if — in real life — she could put on a disguise and live a second life as a completely different person, with a completely different profession, she’d be a photographer. “I’ve always loved photography. I got a camera a couple of years ago, a Canon Rebel. And I’m starting to work on film was well. I would love to do that.”
Marni Weisz is the editor of Famous.
Miley’s first TV Set
For two and a half years Miley Cyrus took acting classes at Toronto’s
Armstrong Acting Studio, run by Dean Armstrong. An actor himself,
Armstrong worked with Miley’s dad, Billy Ray Cyrus, on the TV show Doc.
One day in the spring of 2003, Billy Ray invited Miley’s entire acting
class to come to the set and see how a real TV show works. That’s Billy
Ray in the lab coat, and a 10-year-old Miley next to him, atop
Armstrong’s shoulders. Miley actually made her television debut on Doc, appearing in two episodes, as two different characters.