Billy Ray Cyrus: 'Hannah Montana' 'destroyed my family'
Billy Ray Cyrus says "Hannah Montana," the Disney Channel series that made him and daughter Miley Cyrus international stars, destroyed his family and added he did not make money off of the pop singer.
Months before the series ended in January, he filed for divorce from her mother Tish and moved from their Los Angeles home to his house in Tennessee, while Miley Cyrus raised controversy over an online video that shows her smoking the hallucinogenic herb salvia out of a bong as she continued to fend off criticism over her more mature image.
"I'll tell you right now - the damn show destroyed my family," Billy Ray Cyrus, 49, said about "Hannah Montana" in an interview with GQ magazine. "I'd take it back in a second. For my family to be here and just be everybody okay, safe and sound and happy and normal, would have been fantastic. Heck, yeah. I'd erase it all in a second if I could."
"Season four, it was a disaster," he added about the final season of the show. "I was going to work every single day knowing that my family had fallen apart, but yet I had to sit in front of that camera. I look back and I go, How did I ever make it through that? I must be a better actor than I thought."
A Disney Channel spokesperson declined comment on Billy Ray Cyrus' remarks about the series, one of the most popular family-friendly shows in the United States.
Miley Cyrus called the bong video, leaked on the website TMZ, "a bad decision." After it was posted, Billy Ray Cyrus said on his Twitter page: "Sorry guys. I had no idea. Just saw this stuff for the first time myself. Im so sad. There is much beyond my control right now."
Miley Cyrus, who began her on-screen career when she was 8, said last year she had outgrown "Hannah Montana." She has since showcased a more sexual image in videos and performances, which marks a sharp contrast to her "good-girl" Disney Channel character.
"I'm scared for her," Billy Ray Cyrus said. "She's got a lot of people around her that's putting her in a great deal of danger. I know she's 18, but I still feel like as her daddy I'd like to try to help." Miley Cyrus celebrated her 18th birthday party in November, but her father did not attend.
"You know why I didn't go?" Billy Ray Cyrus said. "Because they were having it in a bar. It was wrong. It was for 21 years old and up."
"Once again all them people, they all wanted me to fly out so that then when all the bad press came they could say, 'Daddy endorsed this stuff,' he added. "I started realizing I'm being used. If I would have went out there I would have been right in the middle of all this stuff that's going on right now with the bong."
Billy Ray Cyrus, who is also a singer and is known for the 1992 country rock hit "Achy Breaky Heart, denies reports he exploited his daughter for profit.
"I've never made a dime off of Miley," he said. "I'm proud to say to this day I've never made one commissioned dollar, or dime, off of my daughter."
"Every time something happened in Miley's career, every time the train went off the track, if you will - Vanity Fair, two, pole-dancing, three, whatever scandal it was - her people, or as they say in today's news, her handlers, every time they'd put me... 'Somebody's shooting at Miley! Put the old man up there!'" he added. "Well, I took it, because I'm her daddy, and that's what daddies do. 'Okay, nail me to the cross, I'll take it."
He and Miley Cyrus raised eyebrows when they posed together for a Vanity Fair photo spread in 2008, which included a photo of the then-15-year-old girl appearing semi-topless. She also came under fire for pole-dancing at the 2009 Teen Choice Awards.
"All those people around, they used me every time," Billy Ray Cyrus said. "It became so obvious that, man, no matter what happens, they're going to put you up there and let you take the bullet."