February 15th, 2011
12:37 PM ET
In an explosive new interview with the March issue of GQ, Billy Ray Cyrus finally speaks out about troubled daughter Miley, saying the TV series "Hannah Montana" destroyed his family and expressing concern that the teen could go down the path of Kurt Cobain, Anna Nicole Smith and Michael Jackson.
“I’m scared for her,” Cyrus says of Miley, with whom he has had little contact since her bong-smoking video surfaced in December. “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. Take care of her just a little bit, to at least get her out of danger. I want to get her sheltered from the storm. Stop the insanity just for a minute. When you go through what she’s been through, it takes a beating on you.”
Though Miley has practically made a career out of making headlines — posing in a bedsheet for Vanity Fair, wearing skimpy outfits, pole-dancing on stage and drinking beer at a nightclub in Spain — her father has always taken the blame, mostly because he was told to.
“Every time something happened in Miley’s career, every time the train went off the track, if you will — Vanity Fair, pole-dancing, 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!’ Well, I took it, because I’m her daddy, and that’s what daddies do. ‘OK, nail me to the cross, I’ll take it," he says. “All those people around, they used me every time. It became so obvious that, man, no matter what happens, they’re going to put you up there and let you take the bullet.”
But when Cyrus found out that Miley was celebrating her 18th birthday at a bar, he put his foot down and refused to attend. “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.…’ I started realizing I’m being used.”
Not surprisingly, Cyrus says the business has driven a wedge between him and Miley, and he wishes he had done things differently.
“I should have been a better parent. I should have said, ‘Enough is enough — it’s getting dangerous and somebody’s going to get hurt,’” he says. “I should have, but I didn’t. Honestly, I didn’t know the ball was out of bounds until it was way up in the stands somewhere.”
Cyrus said he's seen other celebrities — including Kurt Cobain, Anna Nicole Smith and Michael Jackson — become destroyed by fame and doesn't want the same to happen to his daughter.
“I think that his world was just spinning so fast and he had so many people around him that didn’t help him," he says of Cobain. “Like Anna Nicole Smith — you could see that train wreck coming. I was actually trying to reach out to Anna Nicole Smith, because I kept telling [my wife] Tish and everybody around me, going, ‘This is a disaster.’ Michael Jackson — I was trying to reach out to Michael Jackson."
Now Cyrus is attempting to do the same for his daughter. “You know, it seems at this point there’s not a lot that I can say she doesn’t already know. And of course I’ve sent her the texts of ‘I’m here if you need me,’ ‘Always still love you,’ those kind of things… Who knows? Maybe she knows exactly what she’s doing."
Reflecting on the four years that have passed since “Hannah Montana" premiered, Cyrus — who split from wife Tish last October — now says he wishes the Disney show had never happened.
“It destroyed my family. I’ll tell you right now — the damn show destroyed my family," he says. “I’d take it back in a second. For my family to be here and just be everybody OK, safe and sound, and happy and normal, would have been fantastic. Heck, yeah. I’d erase it all in a second if I could.”
The March issue of GQ hits newsstands on February 22.
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