The Disney Channel series “Hannah Montana,” which debuted in 2006, followed the life of teenager Miley Stewart as she tried to manage her everyday life while also secretly moonlighting as international pop superstar Hannah Montana.
The show, which wrapped in 2011, made a household name out of Miley Cyrus, who played the title role; reinvigorated the career of her country-star father, Billy Ray Cyrus; and helped launch the careers of several other young actors.
In the 12 years since the program’s conclusion, stars of the show have gone on to have varying levels of fame, with some leading more quiet lives than others.
Here’s what some of the series standouts are up to now:
Cyrus is obviously the biggest star to come out of the series. It takes a lot of talent to play a superstar on a show while also being a superstar in real life.
The 30-year-old has gone on to star in movies including 2010’s “The Last Song” and TV series such as the dystopian drama “Black Mirror.” Cyrus has most notably garnered fame post-”Hannah Montana” through her successful music career. The Tennessee native has had five No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200 chart and has received two Grammy nominations. Cyrus’ most recent track to reach the top of the charts was her post-breakup anthem “Flowers,” which dropped earlier this year.
The “We Can’t Stop” singer has recently been doing a lot of reflecting on her past in a TikTok video series inspired by her new single, “Used to Be Young.”
In one video, Cyrus compared her relationship with fame to her father’s, saying, “When I was born [in 1992], my dad had the No. 1 country song [‘Achy Break Heart’]. When I see the numbers, I just see the humans behind it enjoying the music.”
“Him feeling loved by a big audience impacted him emotionally more than it ever could me,” she added. “When he feels special or important, it’s like healing a childhood wound. And I’ve always been made to feel like a star.
“I think that’s the difference,” she said, wiping away tears.
She also has reminisced about recording her first album under her real name and the relationship she had with the place where it was recorded.
“The ‘Meet Miley Cyrus’ record was really where I started writing my own songs as a solo artist, and so I was working with a producer in Malibu that lived in a house in Ramirez Canyon, which I would’ve never known 15 years later I would be living in that house, which would eventually burn down,” Cyrus said. “That house had so much magic to it. It ended up really changing my life.”
Cyrus also noted in that video that her debut album as herself was strategically paired with a release as her famous alter-ego, Hannah Montana.
“The smartest thing to do was to put it on a double disc, so Hannah would be on the other side because at the time I wasn’t valued in the way that Hannah was,” Cyrus said. “The magic was more in her, and so this was a way that we could help people put the two and two together that really the voice behind Hannah was always me.”
The Grammy nominee shared her hectic childhood schedule in another video.
Here’s what Cyrus said the average day’s schedule looked like when she was “probably like 12 or 13”: Wake up at 5:30 a.m. to get hair and makeup done. At 7 a.m., get picked up to go to an interview at 7:15. More interviews at 7:45, 8:15 and 8:45. Then a two-hour break to meet with editors. Later in the day, another interview at an unspecified time before 1 p.m., but this time, “The reporters are all fifth-grade students.” And then interviews for the rest of the day until 6:15.
“I’m a lot of things, but lazy ain’t one of them,” Cyrus said after reading the timetable aloud. “So I do think this girl deserves a little endless summer vacation.”
Billy Ray Cyrus
Cyrus played Miley Stewart’s father, Robby Ray Stewart, a former country singer and producer with an over-the-top personality who frequently exclaimed, “Sweet niblets!”
The real-life Miley’s country star dad, Billy Ray, who struck music gold with the chart-topper “Achy Breaky Heart” in 1992, hasn’t made too many headlines since the Disney Channel show ended in 2011.
Cyrus expressed disdain for the series soon after it went off the air.
“I’d erase it all in a second if I could,” he told GQ in 2011. “I’ll tell you right now — the damn show destroyed my family. And I sit there and go, ‘Yeah, you know what? Some gave all.’ It is my motto, and guess what? I have to eat that one. I some-gave-all’d it all right. I some-gave-all’d it while everybody else was going to the bank. It’s all sad.”
He added, “For my family to be here and just be everybody OK, safe and sound and happy and normal, would have been fantastic.”
At the time of that interview, the singer had recently filed for divorce from his wife, Tish Cyrus, for the first time. (We’ll come back to that.)
In 2019, Cyrus helped Lil Nas X catapult the song “Old Town Road” to unprecedented heights.
A slow-rolling tune about horses set to a banjo lick sampled from an obscure Nine Inch Nails song, “Old Town Road” was one of the first mainstream songs that was popularized thanks to TikTok, where it became part of a viral dance challenge. The song received a boost of mainstream attention when Billboard declared it ineligible for its country chart — a controversial ruling that led to a country remix featuring Cyrus.
Turns out Cyrus first wrote to Lil Nas X on Twitter after Billboard ruled, telling the rising star that he had been watching the hubbub over the song, which holds the record for most weeks at No.1 on Billboard, having claimed the title for 19 weeks.
“When I got thrown off the charts,” Cyrus said, “Waylon Jennings said to me, ‘Take this as a compliment.’” Being shunned by the country establishment “means you’re doing something great!” he said.
“Only Outlaws are outlawed,” he concluded. “Welcome to the club!”
In 2022, after their earlier reconciliation and a second split attempt in 2013, Billy Ray and Tish announced that they were getting divorced, but this time it was the real deal. The split was made official earlier this year.
The couple, who married in 1993, had not lived together for two years at the time of their legal separation. And since their five children were legal adults, no child-custody arrangements were needed.
Last year, the 62-year-old announced his engagement to Firerose, a singer 27 years his junior. The two met while working on “Hannah Montana.”
“She’s the real deal,” Cyrus said of Firerose.
He recalled seeing her for the first time while taking a break with his dog, Tex, near the set of the sitcom.
“I loved doing that show,” he told People, doing a 180 from the GQ interview years earlier. “There’s a couple old pine trees on the lot that look like Tennessee. Tex and I would go out there in the middle of the day and he’d take care of his business and we’d stretch and I’d think how much I missed Tennessee. On that given day, Firerose came out of the front door. There was almost a moment of … recognition. I was like, ‘This girl’s a star.’”
Musso played one of Miley Stewart’s best friends, Oliver Oken, in the Disney series throughout its run. Musso’s character begins the show as a Hannah Montana superfan before learning that his dear friend is the pop star of his affections. Oken goes on to have a long-term relationship with Stewart’s best friend, Lilly Truscott (played by Emily Osment), and ends the series by establishing a singing career.
Since“Hannah Montana,” Musso has voiced a character in the popular Disney animated series “Phineas and Ferb” and had a leading role in the Disney XD show “Pair of Kings,” which ran from 2010 to 2013. The Texas native’s 2009 self-titled album charted on Billboard’s Hot 100.
Most recently, Musso was arrested in Texas on suspicion of public intoxication and theft.
On Aug. 26, police in Rockwall, Texas, received a 911 call from someone “reporting a disturbance at a hotel” in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, police said. Officers were told that a person who “appeared intoxicated” had entered the hotel, grabbed a bag of chips and started eating the snack.
“When the subject was asked to pay for them, he became verbally abusive and left without rendering payment,” the statement said. “Officers contacted the subject outside the hotel and he was identified as 32-year-old Mitchel Musso.”
Police noted that Musso showed “signs of intoxication,” and the former Disney Channel star was arrested on suspicion of public intoxication and theft. Musso also had outstanding traffic warrants, police said.
Musso spent the night in jail and was released the following day after posting $1,000 bond. He has since denied the allegations.
“I was absolutely not drunk or drinking, and there was 100% no theft,” Musso told Entertainment Weekly. “It’s unfortunate, it’s a misunderstanding.”
He said that an employee at the hotel where he was arrested refused him service because he was wearing only board shorts. Musso said he was looking to restock his friend group’s snack supply as they enjoyed a night out on a boat.
“I didn’t know it was illegal not to wear shirts these days,” Musso said. “[The hotel employee] told me to ‘get the f— out,’ were the words he used. And that kind of set me off. And he said, ‘I’m gonna call the police’ and I said go for it. … And then the brigade showed up. There was literally, there was 10, 11 cop cars, 20 officers outside surrounding me and that’s when I got scared.”
Musso said he shut his mouth, put his hands behind his back and let police take him in. He believes the “truth’s gonna come out.”
Osment played Lilly Truscott, Stewart’s best friend. She’s the first person to learn that Stewart is secretly Montana. By the end of the show, the excitable and lovably clumsy Truscott ends up going to college alongside her best friend and is in a committed relationship with Oliver.
After “Hannah Montana,” Osment, whose older brother is “The Sixth Sense” star Haley Joel Osment, went on to pursue a singing career. Two of her music releases, in 2009 and 2010, made it onto the Billboard 200.
In 2014, she starred in the ABC Family comedy series “Young & Hungry” as Gabi, a very competent but financially challenged food blogger who becomes the personal chef to a romantically challenged tech millionaire. The show ended in 2018 after its fifth season.
The 31-year-old actor also had a recurring role in the CBS series “Mom” alongside Oscar winner Allison Janney and Anna Faris. In the sitcom, Osment played Jodi, an unhoused woman who was trying to kick her drug addiction. Her character died from a drug overdose midway through the third season.
She scored a recurring role in Netflix’s Emmy-nominated series “The Kominsky Method” in 2018 and starred in the streaming platform’s sitcom “Pretty Smart” in 2021.
Most recently, the actor was cast as a series regular on CBS’ ”Young Sheldon” in 2022.
Arias played Rico Suave, the incredibly young manager of Rico’s Surf Shop, a beachside concession stand. The juvenile entrepreneur has a love-hate relationship with Jackson Stewart (Jason Earles), Miley’s older brother, and Oliver Oken. He sees both as older brothers and occasionally seeks advice from them, but he often loves to torture them to a comical extent. He is the only main character in the show who doesn’t know about Miley Stewart’s double life; he finds out only when she reveals it live on television.
In 2006, Arias had a minor role in the comedy “Nacho Libre,” which starred Jack Black.
Since the end of the series, he has starred in the critically acclaimed 2013 film “The Kings of Summer,” which premiered at Sundance. Later that year, he also had a small role in “Ender’s Game,” which starred Asa Butterfield, Hailee Steinfeld, Harrison Ford and Viola Davis.
Bonus: Austin Butler
Yes, Butler, who maybe still kinda thinks that he is Elvis, played Derek Hanson in a 2007 episode of “Hannah Montana.” The role marked the Oscar nominee’s first credited TV role. In the episode, his character is set up on a blind date with Stewart. Their date goes awry when it is revealed that Derek is overly afraid of the scary movie that the pair ends up watching.
Butler said in 2022, “The first time I was ever paid was I did an episode of ‘Hannah Montana.’ I never had a real job, so I was about 12 years old or something.”
Since “Hannah Montana,” Butler has had a successful acting career. He had a supporting role in the ABC Family drama “Switched at Birth” in 2011 and 2012 and nabbed a lead role in the CW series “The Carrie Diaries” from 2013 to 2014.
Butler’s film “The Bikeriders,” which premiered at the 2023 Telluride Film Festival, is already generating awards buzz.
Times staff writers Nardine Saad, Christi Carras and Mikael Wood contributed to this report.