LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Miley Cyrus has spent the last five years being "Hannah Montana", the bubbly star of Disney Channel's hit tween TV series. But Cyrus, 17, says she has grown tired of being told how to dress, where to go, and what to do, and now it's time to make her own choices.
Her new movie, the romantic drama "The Last Song", which made its U.S. debut on Wednesday, is the first step in a career she hopes to forge as a movie actress.
Cyrus talked with Reuters about working with best-selling author Nicholas Sparks on the movie, and about falling in love (on and off-screen) with her co-star, 20 year-old Australian newcomer Liam Hemsworth.
Q: What kind of input did you have in your character and in the story of "The Last Song"?
A: "Nicholas Sparks asked me what name I would like. I said Ronnie, because it reminded me of my grand-dad, whose name was Ronald. I love animals, so we had sea turtles in the film, and I love music, so there is a piano. So he gave me some things he knew would make me more comfortable on the set."
Q; What was the most enjoyable scene to shoot?
A: "The scene when me and Liam were in the water. That was the very first scene we shot. How awkward is that? You go in and they say, 'Okay, kiss in the water!' But I thought it was better like that. We got that out of the way and we were really secure and comfortable with each other."
Q: These are your first real on-screen kisses. How embarrassing was that, and having to do it time and again in front of the film crew?
A: "It wasn't embarrassing at all. We were dating by that point. After the two or three weeks that we started filming, we really started clicking."
Q: Tell me about that sweet scene with Liam, where you are both singing along to Maroon 5's "She Will Be Loved".
A: "That scene was a real pleasure to shoot. It wasn't written in the script for him to sing. He just started doing it and making fun of me, which is one thing that I get so mad at Liam for doing because I feel like he is mocking me. He's like, 'No, I just literally can't sing!' He does it all the time."
Q: You have said you want people to take you seriously? Do you feel people don't respect you now?
A: "I feel that for what I have accomplished I could get a little more respect. People (at Disney) were not sure at first if they could trust me. They knew I could do 'Hannah Montana'. But to put me out there as a music artist, they were a bit skeptical. I had to fight to get a real stage, to be a real music artist."
Q: How frustrating is it when people hold you up as a role model, and then criticize you when you screw up?
A: "I hope I can be a (good) example. But my wish is not to be a parent to someone and tell them what's right or wrong and be the perfect example, because that's unfair for me to not be able to have the time to figure that out on my own. I used to let it affect me, and now I don't. At the end of the day, you want to make yourself happy and not a bunch of people you don't even know."
Q: Do you read news stories about yourself?
A; "No, I pretty much am off that. I don't want to give them the hits on the web site."
Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
A; "Hopefully still doing films. I really am looking forward to that most."
Q: And what about your personal life? Marriage? Kids?
A; "Maybe I'll get married. I don't know. But probably not kids. Kids scare me."
Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Patricia Reaney