Miley Cyrus surprised theatergoers by walking into the noon showing of her “Hannah Montana: The Movie” today at the Regal’s Pinnacle Stadium 18 theater at Turkey Creek in West Knoxville.
Cyrus, accompanied by her father and co-star, Billy Ray Cyrus, walked into the packed theater to thunderous applause and the screams of shocked girls with their mothers. Her brief visit was a well-kept secret for almost a week, with media being asked to sign an agreement not to leak the news prior to her arrival.
The starlet joked to the crowd, “On the way here, I was like, 'oh my God, we're going to walk into an empty theater.'”
That was unlikely, given her fan base and the Disney public machine working behind her. Still, Disney counterparts the Jonas Brothers and their recent 3-D movie bombed quickly after opening weekend. In the movie business, even a sure thing is hard to call these days.
Cyrus’ arrival came between sneak previews and the start of her film. She led the crowd in a quick a cappella version of “Best of Both Worlds,” the theme song from the “Hannah Montana” series.
After making small talk with the crowd, Billy Ray shook hands with fans on the front row; Miley had a photo taken with her cell phone of her with the audience.
In an interview minutes later with the News Sentinel, Miley said she takes her responsibility of being a role model seriously.
“It keeps me responsible for my own actions. I am a role model and not a parent,” she said.
She realizes being a role model for her fans will also bring criticism. “You’re going to get that either way,” she said of criticism.
And that’s fine if “you’re going to try and make a difference and doing something good for the world no matter what.”
Cyrus said she has learned from her mistakes. Like her alter-ego Hannah Montana discovers in the movie, Cyrus has learned that slowing down is important sometimes.
“When I get tired, (I know) that’s a good reason for me to come home to Nashville,” said Cyrus, 16, who now lives in Los Angeles most of the time.
In the G-rated movie, Hannah’s Hollywood lifestyle gets a bit out of control, and she goes back home to Tennessee to straighten out her priorities.
“She was born Destiny Hope Cyrus,” Billy Ray Cyrus said. “I always felt like she had a purpose. Her purpose was to bring something light and positive to the world.”
For 9-year-old Brittany Alexander of Maryville, seeing Miley Cyrus in person “was the most coolest thing I’ve ever seen. I’ve always wanted to see her in person.”
Her mother, Tina Alexander, said Cyrus is a good role model for her daughter.
“She doesn’t stray from her roots,” Tina Alexander said. “You see her in interviews and things like that, she seems down to Earth.
“The movie was good. It brought her down to Earth, and that was good for (kids) to see.”
Terry Morrow may be reached at email@example.com or 865-342-6445.
© 2009, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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