Five Favorite Films

Five Favorite Films With Billy Ray Cyrus

The co-star of Hannah Montana: The Movie shares his favorite films, his influences, and how David Lynch helped Miley get into showbiz.

by | April 7, 2009 | Comments

Billy Ray Cyrus

Art imitates life (and vice versa) in Hannah Montana: The Movie, in which teen idol Miley Cyrus stars as the titular character, a 16-year-old A-list celebrity desperately trying to balance stardom with her normal life. That normal life is her “real” life as Miley Stewart, a high schooler whose pop identity is only known to family and friends and who is about to get a wake-up call in the form of an extended stay in the homegrown Tennessee countryside where she grew up, courtesy of dad Robby Ray Stewart (played by Miley’s real-life father, country music star-turned-actor Billy Ray Cyrus). RT talked to the elder Cyrus about his favorite films, his transition from “Achy Breaky Heart” recording artist to Hollywood thespian, and how he credits David Lynch (and a letter from Johnny Cash) with helping daughter Miley become the teen entertainment phenomenon that she is today.

Bonnie and Clyde (1967, 91% Tomatometer)

Bonnie and Clyde
Oh my gosh! The incredible acting; the performances that are delivered in such an incredible true story. It’s a great film.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (1966, 98% Tomatometer)

The Good The Bad and The Ugly
Clint Eastwood is an inspiration to me as an actor. He, Robert Redford, and Michael Landon, might be three of my biggest influences as an actor. In each of those cases, it’s the fact that they play everything with a “less is more” style. There’s just something about that style that I try to tap into every now and then; it’s definitely my approach to a lot of things.

The Horse Whisperer (1998, 71% Tomatometer)

Horse Whisperer
I’m just a sucker for a good love story. And that would be another of my influences by Robert Redford. He’s been a definitive inspiration as an actor and as a role model, if you will.

Blue Velvet (1986, 90% Tomatometer)

Blue Velvet
Let’s go with Elephant Man — no, I’m going to go with Blue Velvet, for my David Lynch pick. I’m going to go with Blue Velvet because I love Roy Orbison so much. He was a great influence on me musically, and still is. That’s when I kind of put two and two together — with Blue Velvet — and thought, film is a great way for your music to be heard, without radio. It’s a great way for your music to be heard.

And that came out before you actually met David Lynch and starred in his film, Mulholland Dr.

Oh yes, it came out considerably before. I’m pretty sure I was a young hellion at the time, about wild enough to shoot at. Just rockin’ and rollin’, playing these little bars and clubs up in West Virginia and Kentucky and Ohio. Wild as can be, just crazy. It appealed to me.

Twilight (2008, 49% Tomatometer)

I’m gonna go with the most recent film I saw that was really good. I thought Twilight was pretty killer. Put it up there, I’m gonna go with it! Even though it was about vampires, I thought it was told in a really cool way. I thought the acting was strong. And, I thought the music that accompanied the film was really cool.


Next: Billy Ray Cyrus on auditioning for David Lynch’s Mulholland Dr., how he credits Lynch with starting Miley Cyrus’ acting career, and his close friendships with country legends Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Waylon Jennings

Thanks to his hit single, “Achy Breaky Heart,” Billy Ray Cyrus was a household name long before starring on TV shows like Doc and Disney’s Hannah Montana, which spins off into theaters in this week’s Hannah Montana: The Movie (he plays Robby Ray Stewart, father to secret superstar Miley Stewart — played by his real-life daughter, Miley Cyrus). Below, Cyrus shares how he made the transition from country music to Hollywood, how David Lynch figures prominently in both his and Miley’s career, and which fellow country icons helped him along the way.


At what point did you realize you wanted to act?

Billy Ray Cyrus: You know, it was in the mid-90s…my dad came down to ride horses with me, and we were sitting out in front of the campfire, just talking about things in my life. He said, “I always pictured you having one of those careers like Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton.” And I said, “Dad, I’d love that, but you know, how do you do that? What’s the key?” And he said, “You’ve got to get into acting! You have all of your eggs in one basket with this music thing and you need to branch out.” And so the next week, I was in Los Angeles touring, and I saw in a little newspaper that David Lynch was casting for Mulholland Dr. I called my agent — I’d never been to an audition before — and I asked, do you think I could go in and audition for this movie? I’d seen that they were looking for a character named Gene the Pool Man, and I don’t know why but something told me, surely I could go be Gene the Pool Man. I went into the audition, and lo and behold, they hired me!

During filming, David Lynch pulled me to the side and said, “I don’t have any reason to blow smoke up your butt, but I just want to tell you the truth — I think you could be a serious actor.” And I said, “Really? I’ve never done this before.” He said, “A director is looking for someone who is real, and you’re very real. I love the way you’re playing these scenes. If you just continue to be real, you can do anything you want to do as an actor.” With that note of embracement from David Lynch, I then went on to read a script called Doc, and Doc was about hope and faith and love, a very positive show on Pax TV. I went and auditioned for Dr. Clint Cassidy and they hired me, and four years, 88 episodes later, I was a full-time actor.


You look back on it and without David Lynch, Miley wouldn’t be Hannah Montana. Without Toronto, Canada, and the fact that I did that first series…that’s when Miley fell in love with acting. She started taking a role on Doc — she became this little girl named Kylie in a recurring role — and I took her to see Mamma Mia! on the stage in Toronto. Toronto really embraced the arts and acting; at the time, it wasn’t so much like that in Nashville, they didn’t have acting classes. She was able to surround herself with some great coaches and some great thespians from the moment she said she was going to become a great actress. That was the turning point, when she said that’s what I’m going to do. She applied herself to become an actress. So without Lynch, that wouldn’t have happened.

Does he know that you credit him with Miley’s Hollywood career?

BRC: No, I don’t know that he knows that. I don’t know, but I sure would love to tell him. Why don’t you tell him for me? You put it out there, he’ll read it.

Do you stay in touch with him at all?

BRC: No, I haven’t seen him for quite some time. I haven’t seen him since we made the movie.


One last question from our resident country fan — who helped you through the down times in your music career?

BRC: Johnny Cash. Waylon Jennings. George Jones. Those were guys that I really looked up to. Carl Perkins. Johnny Cash wrote me a letter, encouraging me to continue to be real, continue to love the music, and continue to be an original. An original, he called me; he said I reminded me of a friend of his named Elvis Presley. And that in my case and in Elvis’, the good far outweighed the bad, and as long as I would always remember to give thanks to Almighty God from whom all things that are good come from, that I would be just fine. Then he signed it, “Let ’em have it, I’m in your corner — Johnny Cash.” That’s pretty killer, isn’t it? That letter lived on the wall, right outside of Miley’s bedroom in Nashville, Tennessee. She grew up reading that letter.

Johnny Cash was a great influence in my life, as was Waylon Jennings. Carl Perkins was one of my best friends, if not my best friend at a certain point in my life. I sang at both of their funerals; I was out of town for Johnny’s, but I sung at Waylon and Carl’s funerals.


Hannah Montana: The Movie opens nationwide this Friday. Get the latest reviews and trailers here and check out more Five Favorite Films in our archive, including:

Five Favorite Films with Greg Mottola

Five Favorite Films with Guillermo del Toro

Five Favorite Films with Judd Apatow

Five Favorite Films with Robert Pattinson


Tag Cloud

IMDb TV AMC stop motion Countdown know your critic scorecard Tags: Comedy Black Mirror Crackle MTV mcc Sundance Now Turner Classic Movies werewolf Masterpiece TNT crime thriller Columbia Pictures Sneak Peek Ghostbusters USA Network rt labs CNN critic resources heist movie Epix Freeform spain San Diego Comic-Con latino binge news target FOX true crime police drama dceu Apple TV+ 71st Emmy Awards feel good independent obi wan rotten movies we love action-comedy reboot Television Academy Tarantino child's play blockbusters summer TV composers Family Rocky Neflix Tokyo Olympics The Purge 94th Oscars comic book movies Reality crime Shondaland 007 concert Trophy Talk CMT Paramount Walt Disney Pictures foreign versus razzies italian new york DC Comics critics canceled justice league Paramount Plus romance TV renewals king kong Binge Guide Photos Video Games Awards Tour travel renewed TV shows zombies stand-up comedy VOD sopranos mission: impossible E3 cancelled 72 Emmy Awards The CW SundanceTV DC streaming service war Hear Us Out Hallmark History cancelled television 2016 TIFF space fresh BBC scary movies Tomatazos adventure films live event cartoon medical drama tv talk transformers 2019 best Box Office docuseries reviews comic books DirecTV zero dark thirty comic First Reviews The Academy lord of the rings HFPA 79th Golden Globes Awards WGN book twilight mutant Disney streaming service nfl Chernobyl Cannes 2020 Oscar Showtime Watching Series posters technology Anna Paquin GoT Fox News 93rd Oscars Set visit Grammys christmas movies Podcast Nat Geo Focus Features diversity venice DC Universe criterion FX A24 spy thriller Summer Hollywood Foreign Press Association Superheroes DGA Cartoon Network dreamworks halloween tv blockbuster Quiz TLC 20th Century Fox new zealand American Society of Cinematographers APB doctor who sequels spider-man Certified Fresh NBA Women's History Month Legendary Marvel video richard e. Grant black Super Bowl LGBTQ suspense HBO Academy Awards king arthur IFC Films Black History Month 2017 international dogs Best and Worst batman Crunchyroll summer TV preview interviews boxing Exclusive Video Paramount Network golden globes A&E MGM Baby Yoda unscripted Vudu Creative Arts Emmys Apple Logo Cosplay science fiction Awards golden globe awards Martial Arts remakes The Witch fast and furious TCA Awards genre revenge politics Lifetime adenture Acorn TV Image Comics dragons Star Trek witnail 73rd Emmy Awards obituary book adaptation Mystery Broadway Avengers sag awards political drama biopic National Geographic BBC One rotten Calendar Dark Horse Comics rom-coms what to watch Brie Larson Nominations CBS All Access universal monsters asian-american 99% Pride Month cars new star wars movies comic book movie social media Animation President Fantasy Tumblr TCA Winter 2020 australia NBC discovery robots SXSW Spike 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Premiere Dates AMC Plus television zombie Superheroe BET Awards james bond Film Festival Discovery Channel TV movies a nightmare on elm street all-time franchise biography Prime Video Amazon Prime Video prank broadcast Ovation Tubi Bravo Western Heroines Writers Guild of America OWN game of thrones Christmas Endgame harry potter japan dc Mary poppins Holiday gangster crime drama Chilling Adventures of Sabrina TV archives facebook Lionsgate Teen ID award winner 90s popular toy story Musicals period drama Oscars 2021 streaming movies TBS Classic Film HBO Go hist worst movies MSNBC trophy cooking royal family Emmy Nominations sports marvel cinematic universe miniseries Horror Fall TV Toys Syfy IFC Netflix Spectrum Originals Disney+ Disney Plus El Rey ratings Rocketman stoner Amazon Studios blaxploitation Esquire nbcuniversal ESPN series Ellie Kemper Emmys singing competition kong cats rt archives Pacific Islander Trailer sitcom YA high school Disney Channel Interview Best Picture indie Rom-Com CW Seed ABC pirates of the caribbean french festival hidden camera Pet Sematary YouTube Premium Trivia wonder woman Comics on TV Alien Hallmark Christmas movies Infographic streaming Best Director ABC Signature Mudbound scary E! cancelled TV shows SXSW 2022 The Walt Disney Company Fargo comiccon laika docudrama CBS ABC Family directors crossover video on demand thriller Spring TV deadpool parents Kids & Family Paramount Pictures MCU Country Starz The Arrangement New York Comic Con PBS movie ghosts olympics FX on Hulu toronto spanish Turner Pixar children's TV dexter WarnerMedia Disney Plus dramedy vampires Elton John kids SDCC women Captain marvel legend LGBT GIFs Lifetime Christmas movies TCA 2017 cancelled TV series indiana jones japanese Food Network halloween TCM free movies BBC America USA 24 frames quibi south america Disney hispanic heritage month natural history slasher jurassic park football RT History disaster Peacock festivals YouTube Red canceled TV shows leaderboard Rock Arrowverse TruTV TCA hollywood Netflix Christmas movies aliens anthology cinemax PaleyFest TV One Mary Poppins Returns Sundance TV scene in color Valentine's Day Hulu Drama Pirates godzilla 2018 art house superhero worst Sci-Fi Comic-Con@Home 2021 Thanksgiving aapi theme song Mindy Kaling VICE cults movies Biopics BAFTA comedies The Walking Dead debate Travel Channel Action Pop Election Warner Bros. Marvel Studios slashers Marathons 1990s RT21 Lucasfilm OneApp HBO Max historical drama teaser mockumentary cops green book sequel South by Southwest Film Festival boxoffice 45 supernatural Reality Competition finale Shudder Music Pop TV Winter TV Best Actress rt labs critics edition Instagram Live Adult Swim Comedy Central Extras Universal Pictures telelvision 2015 Comic Book name the review BET documentaries Sundance See It Skip It streamig Amazon Prime adaptation basketball hispanic Schedule screen actors guild ViacomCBS casting kaiju Television Critics Association PlayStation chucky young adult dark satire black comedy superman animated Polls and Games Year in Review Comedy YouTube GLAAD Mary Tyler Moore NYCC live action based on movie vs. Musical die hard comics Sony Pictures ITV FXX romantic comedy game show nature jamie lee curtis Film spinoff Britbox Nickelodeon mob Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Character Guide spider-verse Marvel Television Wes Anderson joker serial killer Fox Searchlight Song of Ice and Fire psycho spanish language Winners breaking bad Red Carpet Opinion Best Actor saw Holidays Apple TV Plus First Look monster movies trailers marvel comics strong female leads psychological thriller Universal documentary emmy awards X-Men VH1 Amazon Stephen King 4/20 screenings Funimation summer preview classics TV Land elevated horror anime talk show 21st Century Fox Star Wars