Last weekend, I made my big-screen debut. Or, rather, my hands did. It may have only been for a few seconds, but nonetheless I now can point to the new Miley Cyrus movie and say, “Oh yeah, I was in that.”
The Last Song premiered this past weekend at number four, holding its own during a flurry of big releases and raking in $16.2 million. At this time, the film snob in me is just dying to go on an anti-Hannah Montana rant and hate on this terribly corny movie. But I can’t do that because, honestly, I loved every second of it.
When Hollywood camera crews rolled up to my hometown of Savannah, Georgia this past summer, the whole place went crazy. As one might imagine, we do not get that many celebrities in the Deep South. So, of course, I decided I wanted in on the action. I e-mailed the casting agency with my “headshot” (which was actually just a picture I snagged from Facebook), and told them I would be “willing to come down to the set” if they needed any additional actors. To my amazement, it actually worked.
After receiving a phone call from the agency one morning, I drove over to the shooting location and somehow convinced the security guards to let me in. Four of the crew members then proceeded to examine my body and explain that they needed a replacement double for the role of the mother. The character is played by Kelly Preston, who, I will readily admit, looks nothing like me. For one thing, she’s my mother’s age. But they liked my hair color and hands, and, more importantly, they seemed desperate. After an agonizing five minutes, one of them said, “OK, you’ll do. Can you be here at 5 a.m. tomorrow?” Um, duh.
I was delighted when I arrived the next morning and was immediately ushered to hair and makeup, and then to wardrobe. One personal assistant even asked for my breakfast order! I could have died happily in that moment. The five days I spent on set quickly became the highlight of my summer. The best part was getting the chance to stare at Miley’s gorgeous co-star and current boyfriend, Liam Hemsworth. Usually I am not a fan of guys strutting around in wife-beaters, but in his case I was willing to make an exception.
For shooting, I went off with one of the camera crews to finish up shots they had previously missed. My first task was to pick up a picture frame. Later, I got to drive a Volvo around the island for scenery shots. Only a few seconds of these shots made it into the final cut, and I’m sure the people next to me in the theatre were highly skeptical when I started squealing, “Ooh, look! It’s me!” But I assure you, it was so me.
Now that eight months have passed since filming, seeing the movie was really strange. At first, I thought Miley Cyrus without Hannah Montana would be like Bono without sunglasses: impossible. Yet Nicholas Sparks wrote the screenplay particularly for the young starlet’s transition into the real, post-Disney acting world. She plays a brooding teenager named Ronnie, who has an almost superhuman ability to go from nauseatingly happy to morbidly depressed in three seconds flat. The love story pales in comparison to Sparks’s other box office smashes, like The Notebook and A Walk to Remember. Still, the movie has all the staples of a typical Sparks screenplay. Class disparity between star-crossed lovers? Check. A character with a terminal illness? Check. Sappy, predictable plot twists? Oh boy. Yeah, there are plenty of those.
In the end, I was too embarrassed to introduce myself to Miley, but I learned a lot by observing her. For starters, Miley has a deep, raspy voice in real life, as if she smoked a few packs a day. Neither she nor Greg Kinnear, who plays her father, can play piano well. (Okay, no surprise there.) She has hair extensions. (Well, that’s not really a surprise either.) And she can certainly be a diva. For instance, the crew built a church specifically for the movie so that they could film it for a fire scene. After they built it up and burned it down, and then did it all over again to get more camera angles, Miley asked the crew to rebuild it one more time so that she could take it back to her plantation in Tennessee. She wanted it to be a souvenir from her first big movie—except it wasn’t a magnet or a shot glass: it was an entire church. Very diva-licious. But then again, she’s Miley Cyrus. If I were a 17-year-old who had already published an autobiography, I would probably do the same.