There’s no such thing as “summer vacation” in Billy Ray’s book: He’s hosting Nashville Star, recording a new album (due this fall) and, oh yeah, playing the always fair—and funny!—dad Robby Ray in the Hannah Montana movie opposite his little girl.
You are one busy guy! How do you stay sane?
I just try and stay focused. This is what I love most—make some music, throw in a little acting on the side and, with this hosting gig on Nashville Star, this is an exciting time!
You’re back home in Tennessee. What’s the difference compared to being in L.A.?
It’s home, man! Seeing my horses and my dogs and my land and making music is therapy for my soul. I don’t get that when I go to L.A. and pretend that I’m an actor.
Let’s set the record straight: Is Uncle Earl based on anyone in the Cyrus family?
Ha! I’ve got about 12 Uncle Earls in my life. Absolutely!
What’s your favorite Hannah Montana episode so far?
I gotta tell you, little Noah had me sit down and watch the one with Brooke Shields, when Miley gets hit by lightning [“The Way We Almost Weren’t”].
I laughed as much as ever. The initial shock of seeing Miley get hit by lightning, I just busted out. There was something about the way it knocked her into the bus. That’s terrible, isn’t it? It’s funny when Miley got hit by lightning!
What’s it like being back on the farm with Miley?
Right before we started filming the movie, Miley was like, “Daddy, let’s go see a sunset.” So we took off to an old shack on our property—it was built around 1790—and Miley found an old doll. I had a very definite moment of déjà vu. Like we did this many years ago. But, you know what? She ain’t changed at all. That’s the greatest thing about what she’s been through: Through it all, she is still undeniably Miley to me.