The room I’m in with Miley Cyrus, just off the entry of her mansion in Toluca Lake, LA, used to house her dad’s guitars. Recently refurbished, it’s now 100 per cent Miley: a room stocked with mementos that show who this former child star used to be and who she is now, at age 20.
There’s a picture of a five-year-old Miley with her dad, Billy Ray, at a theme park. Nearby is a photo of her in a passionate clinch with The Hunger Games actor Liam Hemsworth, taken hours after they got engaged. A book of art from Tim Burton, who directed Miley’s first film, Big Fish, dominates a table, while a cast photo from her new movie, So Undercover, has pride of place on a nearby bookshelf.
Under that photo is a tree branch Miley’s former security guard carved into the shape of a guitar’s headstock and fretboard – a reminder that Miley will soon release a buzzed-about new album, her first since wrapping the show that made her famous.
The room can barely contain the energetic star, who tries to settle in a chair, then bounds up to perch on its armrest, and at other times, leans in to show off the contents of her iPhone, filled with pictures of Liam, her dogs, and screenshots from the TV movie Liz & Dick. She’s dressed casually in a plaid button-down, but her hair is white blonde and shaved on the sides – the kind of look that can be rocked only by a woman who’s truly self-confident. Whatever else she is, that’s Miley.
The June issue of Cosmopolitan is on sale May 6.
If we asked you to rank the parts of your life you feel most satisfied with – love, family, music, acting – what would be top?
Number one is my relationship with Liam. That’s what I feel most confident in, because you never know: there’s so much hype behind my new record – but it could come out and, worst-case scenario, everyone f*cking hates it.
But you seem proud of it.
Definitely, it’s the second thing I’m most content with. I’ve never got to make a record like this because Disney has always been on my back saying, “You’ve got to promote the TV show in two months, so make sure your record’s done… and when you promote your record, can you promote the show, the movie, and the Hannah Montana record?” Now it’s almost like being a new artist trying to make a first impression. I think the best thing I could have done was take those two years off and really live, because now people don’t think of me as who I was on the TV show.
Do you think they ever really did? When pictures from your personal life would leak, they presented a very different image to Hannah Montana.
Some of the worst things that have happened in my career, like things getting leaked, have actually been what’s best for me, because people knew when I was on that show that I was really growing up. I never faked anything. I never played the Disney game of smiling and being a princess and then suddenly having a hard time, saying, “That isn’t who I really am.”
You’re collaborating with several unexpected names on this record. Safe to say you have a new sound?
I wrote this song with Mary J. Blige, and Tyler the Creator heard it and said, “I am obsessed with this song, and I’ll guest on it if you promise me that you keep it on the album.” And he killed it! I really didn’t want to make a hip-hop record, and I’m not trying at all to be Rihanna or Nicki Minaj… That’s not my vibe. When I was growing up, my older brother would sneak me Nelly CDs, my dad had me listening to Dolly Parton and Johnny Cash, and my mum is just a complete metal-head. So this record’s a weird mixture of all that.
Unlike a lot of other musicians, you celebrate your competition.
Katy Perry has been my friend for five years, and I’m not ever going to let our work come between us. If Katy sticks with being Katy, and Ke$ha is Ke$ha, and Rihanna is Rihanna, and I’m me, then there’s room for everybody.
What are you listening to?
Frank Ocean’s record is so good. I like that he came out and admitted he was gay, because it still affects people’s careers. If you don’t think it does, it fcking does* – and he didn’t care. I think it’s going to make him even bigger.
Yeah! Now he’s going to have much more loyal fans. If you want to know who’s going to buy your record for the rest of your life, get Brazilians and gays on your side.
I don’t know! My dad told me that when I was little. And my last tour there, there were 20,000 people in one night. It was insane!
Tell us about your newest film, *So Undercover.*
I did it right after I ended Hannah, so I was a completely different person from the person who is sitting here now. I don’t want people to now see that film and then listen to my record and go, “Well, who is she? Who is she trying to be?” The timing kind of sucks, as I want it to be about the album.
Did it put a dent in your enthusiasm to act?
I’m definitely putting acting on the back burner, although I loved doing Two and a Half Men. You work on a movie for three months and either get emotionally attached to it or you hate it… and then it’s torture having to tell people to watch it, because you could barely watch it. In music, you have the control. But with acting you sometimes get put in a bad situation.
Let’s talk about Liam. Do you ever have moments when you still get struck by how hot he is?
Yeah, all the time! I’ll be literally looking at him and be like “You are hot, dear God.” The other day, I turned on the pool heater and it was steaming, and he walked outside and took off his clothes and jumped in the pool. I was like, “I’m gonna faint: the hottest guy of my life is in a steaming pool. This looks like a Playgirl shot.” So I took a photo and made it the background of my phone. My best friend grabbed my phone and was like, “Who’s that? He is so hot!” That’s my hubby!
Now, thanks to *The Hunger Games*, a million girls love him.
Honestly, he is so much hotter in real life. In movies they make him shave and look young. In The Hunger Games, they darkened his hair and it doesn’t look like him.
But isn’t it kind of fun that you get different versions of him?
Role-play! But I don’t like TheHunger Games look. I don’t like him with no facial hair.
Your romantic history includes Liam, Nick Jonas, Justin Gaston… You’ve done pretty well.
I know, right? But I’m happy I don’t have to date anymore. All my friends are guys, so I hear all the sh*t guys say about dating. One guy called me and said, “Miley, I don’t know what to do – this girl won’t leave my house. It’s 6pm and I’ve got a blind date at 6.30pm.” I was like, “I’m so happy I’m married; guys are cruel!” It’s so hard to find a good guy, and all girls know that guys don’t think with their brains.
Are things cool with your dad? You called him out when he said you’d have three weddings.
I didn’t know what he was talking about! I had to put him on blast, then he called me saying, “You made me look dumb.” Like, Dad, you made <me>look dumb: I didn’t know about my own wedding?
So, what will it be like?
I feel like the bigger the wedding, the more it’s a target for people to ruin. So we just want it to be small, with the people who we’d take bullets for. I don’t want to be looking at those photos and see people I wish hadn’t been there. I can’t even go get coffee without a million paparazzi following me, so I don’t know why anyone thinks I’m going to have some huge, extravagant wedding. That’s so not who I am.
To read the rest of this interview buy the June issue of Cosmopolitan, on sale May 6.