In the two years after her mega-hit show ended, Miley Cyrus has gotten engaged, shaved her head, made a couple of movies and is about to drop a hugely anticipated album. Now, this uncensored star answers to nobody but herself.
The room I’m in with Miley Cyrus, just off the entryway of her mansion in Toluca Lake, Los Angeles, used to house her dad’s guitars. Recently refurbished, now it’s one hundred percent 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 5-year-old Miley sitting in the lap of her dad, Billy Ray, at SeaWorld. Nearby is a photo of her in a passionate clinch with Hunger Games star Liam Hemsworth, taken mere hours after they got engaged. A book of art from Tim Burton, who directed Miley in her first film, Big Fish, dominates a table, while a cast photo from her new movie, So Undercover, sits on a book shelf a little farther away. Under that photo is a tree branch that Miley’s former security guard expertly 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 and 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 confident in herself. Whatever else she is, that’s Miley.
Cosmo: If I asked you to rank the parts of your life that you feel most satisfied with–love, family, music, acting–what would be at the top?
Miley: Number one is my relationship with Liam. That’s what I feel the 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 fucking hates it.
Cosmo: But you seem proud of it.
Miley: Definitely, it’s the second thing that I’m most content with. I’ve never gotten to make a record like this because Disney’s 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?” I was basically carrying two people’s careers and trying to make mine the priority. Now, it’s almost like being a new artist and trying to make a first impression. I think the best thing I could have done was take those two years off to really live, because now people don’t think of me as who I was on the TV show.
Cosmo: Do you think they ever really did? When pictures from your personal life would leak, they presented a very different image than Hannah Montana.
Miley: 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.”
Cosmo: You collaborate with many unexpected names on this record. Safe to say you have a new sound?
Miley: I wrote this song with Mary J. Blige, and Tyler the Creator heard it and said, “I am obsessed with this song, and I will guest on it if you promise me that you will 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 a Rihanna or a 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 mom is a complete metal head. So this record is a weird mixture of all that.
Cosmo: Unlike a lot of musicians, you celebrate your competition.
Miley: Katy Perry’s been my friend for fucking five years, and I’m not ever gonna let our work get between that relationship. If Katy sticks with being Katy, and Ke$ha is Ke$ha, and Rihanna is Rihanna, and I’m me, there’s room for everybody. The problem is when people look at Gaga and say, “Oh, that works; I’m going to be like that.”
Cosmo: What are you listening to?
Miley: Frank Ocean’s record is so good. And I like that he came out and admitted he was gay, because that still affects people’s careers. If you don’t think it does, it fucking does, and he did not care. I think it’s going to make him even bigger.
Cosmo: Let’s talk about Liam. Do you ever have these moments when you’re still struck by how hot he is?
Miley: Yeah, all the time! I’ll literally look 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 shoot.” So I took a photo and made it the background on my phone. My best friend grabbed my phone and was like, “Who’s that? He is so hot!” That’s my hubby!
For more of Miley’s exclusive interview with Cosmopolitan pick up the new issue on newsstands Feb. 5.
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