Miley, less smiley, grows up and into film career

LOS ANGELES, March 25 Thu Mar 25, 2010 2:21pm EDT

LOS ANGELES, March 25 (Reuters) - Long smoochy kisses on the beach, a stud in her pierced nose, urban punk clothes?

Miley Cyrus fans better get used to it, because they ain't seen nothing yet.

The 'tween idol is tossing off what she calls the "security blanket" of Disney Channel's "Hannah Montana" TV series with her new role as a rebellious teen in romantic "Last Song", opening in the United States on March 31.

But that seems mere child's play compared to the next likely venture in her bid to establish herself as a grown-up movie actress.

Cyrus, 17, said she expects to play the lead in a "really dark, edgy and cool" movie called "LOL: Laughing Out Loud" -- a U.S. remake, currently in development, of a 2009 French movie.

"It is pretty gnarly," Cyrus told Reuters. "It is about a daughter who is involved with all the wrong kids, doing drugs, failing school, but the mother has her on this perfect pedestal. I just fell in love with the story."

It's the kind of role that Cyrus clearly relishes as she leaves behind the schoolgirl turned pop star "Hannah Montana" that made her a worldwide tween idol in 2006.

The first step in her rise to movie stardom is drama "The Last Song", a movie written for her by Nicholas Sparks, the author of best-selling novels adapted into films like "The Notebook", "Dear John" and "Message in a Bottle."

The next is calling a halt to her chart-busting music career after the release of a new album in the summer. As if to further underline the transition, Cyrus has abandoned her obsessive Twitter habit and is happily in love with her "The Last Song" co-star, Australian newcomer Liam Hemsworth, 20.

MILEY'S LIBERATION

And her new movie includes enough lingering on-screen kisses between Cyrus and Hemsworth to finally bury any remaining controversy over a 2008 Vanity Fair photo shoot of Miley wrapped in a bed sheet that had parents wondering if the Disney teen idol was growing up too fast.

In her first role in which she is not playing herself -- or a version of herself -- Cyrus takes the part of a sullen teen Ronnie Miller who dresses in black and is forced to spend the summer with her estranged father at his quiet beach house in a tale of first loves and second chances.

It is a dramatic role compared to the bubbly Hannah, in which an angry Ronnie rediscovers her love of the piano and, through tragedy, comes to a deeper understanding of life.

"I had been wanting to get out of what people think as the obvious choice for me to do next. You have no idea how many musicals came to my door," Cyrus said.

"It was so freeing to not be, like 'Alright, I'm happy!' and getting to be real and working with life's real emotions. People are so used to me playing the happy girl," she said.

As her rapid-fire delivery suggests, Cyrus is in a hurry to move on, even while still filming the fourth and final series of "Hannah Montana". It debuts on Disney Channel in July and the final episode will be aired in the spring of 2011.

"A new chapter is beginning and one that has been my life for the past five years is ending. It is interesting to be leaving my security blanket behind, but also it is exciting for me to get involved in this movie career," she said.

Cyrus said filming "The Last Song" in the summer of 2009 had been a test run to help her decide her future.

The answer turned out to be movies, which means the music career that produced two No.1 albums and hits like "The Climb" and "7 Things" will take a backseat after her upcoming album.

"This is my last record for a little while. I am going to take a break from music. I just want to continue doing film. I really want to focus and perfect one craft, and that's going to be movies for me. I hope I'll do a record sometime later but for right now, it is the last thing on my mind," she said.

Won't that mean a lot of disappointed young fans?

"Yeah, I know. But hopefully they will go see my movies."

(Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)

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