Hannah Montana: The Movie
comes out in theaters this Friday. In the film Miley Stewart visits her hometown of Crowley Corners, Tennessee to clear her head and get some perspective on what she wants to do with her life. Her brother Jackson goes with her, attending college down South, but of course what ends up happening is sheer comedy.
We recently had the opportunity to speak with Jason Earles, who may not be the wisecracking troublemaker that he plays on TV but who does seem to have a brother's affection for Miley Cyrus. He told us what we can expect from the movie, who he watched the premiere with, how long he envisions the series continuing and what actor he'd like to model his career after.
Listen to our podcast in order to hear our conversation with Jason Earles, or read the transcript below.
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Hi. It’s John Kubicek from BuddyTV. I’m talking to Jason Earles from Hannah Montana. How’s it going?
It’s going great. How are you doing?
I’m doing good. You must be very excited. Hannah Montana: The Movie is gonna premiere pretty soon. Are you getting excited for the big premiere event?
Yes. April 10 is when it officially comes out. I think our LA premiere is on April 2nd. Yeah, it’s just right around the corner. We shot it last summer and it takes so long to put the movies together and finally get them out, that you’re really excited while you’re doing it and now it’s exciting to finally see the product of all that hard work. You know?
For the actual big premiere are you going with family, friends? I imagine it’s going to be a pretty big party.
Yeah. I’m sure the whole cast will go and we’ll all bring our families along. I’ll see if I can get a chance to bring a couple of friends. Yeah, it should be a pretty big deal, I think.
I wonder, how are you dealing with the immense popularity of this show? This is the show for an entire generation. Is it pretty difficult to just go out because you’re constantly being recognized?
No. You definitely do get a lot of attention if you’re at the airport or the mall or going out to eat. But usually people are very nice. You take a couple of pictures, sign a couple of autographs and it’s not terribly overwhelming. I think Miley probably has it worse than anybody because that can turn into a frenzy really quickly. But for the most part I’m just really flattered by all the attention. We were just sort of hoping that kids would like the show and we’d be on for a couple of years and call it good. For it to turn into what it has - I think we’re all just humbled by the fact that we’re part of this generation’s growing up. You don’t want to think about it too much because if you do it gets to be overwhelming. I think you just try to take each day on its own and it will all work out.
What’s going on with Jackson in the movie? What’s he up to?
Jackson ends up going back to Tennessee also. I think everyone’s seen the advertisements where Miley goes back to Tennessee and has to choose what’s important to her - whether it’s her life as Hannah or her friends and family. Jackson is again there for the comic relief. I end up going back to Tennessee to go to college and things don’t really work out the way they’re supposed to. One of the things he ends up doing is he works in a petting zoo in Tennessee and gets into a lot of trouble with animals. It’s sort of a goofy little B story for the movie.
So you talk about the character going off to college. Is that going to be in the series? Is the series over now? Or are you still going to be in it in some capacity?
Yeah, the series is still going strong. We’re actually two thirds of the way through shooting the third season. We’ve got another nine or so episodes left. For the purposes of our storyline for this season, maybe the first half happens before the movie and the second half happens after the movie. The movie does not signal the end of the series. I think there was a lot of speculation that that was the case. But no, Jackson is still in the series. We still tell the same stories, only maybe everyone’s a little more grown up as everybody’s getting a little older. There’s even a good chance that we’ll come back and do maybe a short fourth season after this one to get to right around 100 episodes. Yeah, the series is still going very strong.
Are we going to see Jackson go off to college then?
In the series? In the movie he goes back to college but it doesn’t quite work out the way it’s supposed to. So there’s a reason for him to still be in the series when we come back. But yeah, in parts of the story [Jackson] is getting ready to go to college. At other times he’s at a community college back home. It’s hard to explain without giving away too much of the movie or what the second half of the third season brings. But yeah, Jackson is still definitely a major part of what’s going on in the series even after the events in the movie.
Are you starting to think about ‘after the series?’ With Hannah Montana being so big have you started to think about where you go next with your career?
Yeah, yeah. I think we all love what we’re doing and we’ll do it for as long as they’ll let us. But yeah, I think you have to start figuring out “What’s next for me?” I think we all have our dreams and best case scenario what we’d want. I hope that I just keep working, whether it’s TV or movies or whatever. It doesn’t really matter. But I think a cool network sitcom would be a fun place for me to land. I think my talent sort of lends itself to what that is. I’m good at physical comedy and I really like being goofy and doing charactery sorts of things. So I think a network sitcom would be cool. If I could jump right into family movies and funny movies I think that would be great. I always say that Michael J. Fox had my dream career - where he did a really amazing job of jumping back and forth between great shows like Family Ties to the Back to the Future movies and Spin City. He did a really good job of going back and forth and always doing good material. If I could do anything like that, that would be awesome.
I think Michael J. Fox is also a good example of transitioning from the child star to the adult star. So is that a leap you’re also looking to make?
Yeah. I don’t get too bogged down in worrying about being typecast or “Oh, I can’t be a family friendly kid anymore” or anything like that. It’s more just doing things that I think are fun or funny, and if I’m having a good time then I think the audience will have a good time watching me. But sure, if in the next thing I ended up playing a college age, or young business man or whatever it is - I’m cool with any of that. If the next thing is playing a Freshman in college then that’s cool too. It all works for me.
Hannah Montana has had a lot of guest stars, a lot of famous celebrities and the movie has a few as well. Vanessa Williams and Tyra Banks are showing up. So I’m wondering, do you have a favorite who you were really excited to meet? Or someone you got to meet through the show?
The person who really blew me away was Larry David. He came and did an episode of our show last year. He’s the creator of Seinfeld and does Curb Your Enthusiasm. The thing that’s amazing about him is that he’s an amazing improvisational comedian. Even on our show that’s scripted there’s a little bit of leeway to be creative and sort of go your own way in some of the themes. They basically gave him free reign. They gave him general lines and the structure of what he was supposed to do in the scene but each take was different. I’ve never seen so many people crowded around to watch somebody work before as when he was there on the set.
Finally, you talked a little bit earlier about how you avoid the Miley-level paparazzi. When you see all of that how do you react? You work with her so you know her a lot better than all of them. How do you react to all of that tabloid attention on Miley?
Her press is really weird because they nitpick on really little things. It sort of makes sense. Americans and the world in general, I guess, love their celebrities but even more so they love to watch their celebrities fail. So it’s like we love to build them up and then we love to watch the train wreck afterward. Looking for things to turn her - and make her feel like she’s going down that path - it’s all just sort of blown out proportion and not real. Anyone who spends any real time around her knows she’s a really cool girl. She’s not stuck up, not full of herself. She’s got tons of energy. She’s got a really good heart. She comes from a good family. She’s got a strong faith behind her. Things she gets in trouble for - She’s in a picture in a bikini. Well, she lives in California. It’s 90 degrees here everyday. She’s going to be in a bikini and people take pictures of her. So it’s like - I don’t know. She’s a really great girl and she’s very talented. I just wish the fans and people could spend the time that I spend with her because they would see just what a good person she is.
-John Kubicek, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image courtesy of The Disney Channel)