You might recognize him as heartthrob Jake Ryan on Disney's teen hit, Hannah Montana, but recently Cody Linley took on a new role -- Jesus in the Next Generation New Testament Dramatic Audio Bible. In this 20-CD set, Linley helps revamp the New Testament. The all-star cast also includes teen idols Jordin Sparks, Corbin Bleu, Emily Osment, and more. We talked to Linley about his new project, Hannah Montana, and of course, his mom.
How did you get involved in this project?
About 8 months ago, my friends Alyson (Stoner) and Emily (Osment) told me about it, and I was hooked. After I auditioned for the part of Matthew, they told me I should play the part of Jesus.
Wow, what an upgrade!
Yeah, I was really excited to read the part of the greatest man on earth. We had a crazy long recording process -- like 4 hours a day for 4 or 5 months.
Why is it so important to you?
I am a Christian and I understand that everything given to me is a gift from God. I believe the word of the Bible. I was working on an effective message that I believe in 100%.
What was the best part about it?
The best part of this was being able to keep my relationship with God in my day job. I had just moved out to L.A. when I started and it's a crazy lifestyle. It was awesome to have my first big job learning the scripture.
Did you have to know a lot about the Bible going into the project, or did you have to learn about it as you went?
Going in, I knew a lot about the Bible. But every time I pick it up I learn something new.
Do you think it will make the Bible cool for kids?
This is for the whole family, not just kids. In this day and age, hardly anyone reads anymore; we all are on the go with our iPods, running around. With this, you can download the New Testament to MP3s and listen to it on the way to school.
How'd you get started acting?
My older brother, Chad, was an actor. And I saw him and thought, "Aw, I want to do that!" I was five-years-old and pretty shy. My mom was an acting coach and asked, "Are you sure you want to do this?" But I ended up doing a commercial and had so much fun; then I did some modeling and TV shows.
Did your mom help you with your acting?
She guided me through everything. She put me first. She gambled with me. She did everything she could to support me. She's a beautiful person, 100% supportive.
Are you close with her now?
Oh yeah, she's my partner in crime, she keeps me moving. We went on this acting journey together. My whole family is supportive, but my mom is the one who has really guided me.
What's it like working on Hannah Montana?
The whole cast is like a big family. Miley brings a lot of energy, and Billy Ray is really cool and relaxed. It's great.
I bet! What's hard about it, though?
I'd be lying if I told you being in the spotlight is great. It's very demanding, lots of pressure. A lot of responsibility. It can be tough getting followed when I'm just trying to go to the grocery store, but I see it as a gift. It's a special opportunity that I have, to be able to connect with other people, to spread a positive outlook into people's lives. It's fun. I feel fan support everywhere I go. It's odd to think about what that really means. Like, people come up to me and say, "My daughter has pictures of you on her wall!" That just doesn't make sense to me. I'm just me. We're just us, my family and friends.
Lots of fans are paying close attention to you. Do you think you're a good role model?
It's a big responsibility to be a role model for others, but it's something I want to take on. I'm not perfect -- I mess up all the time. But I really hope I can express how I feel about the world and help everyone have a positive outlook. I always had role models to look up to, all four of my brothers. If I could be a big brother role model to kids, it'd be really cool.
What do you wish your fans knew about you?
My fans are awesome, and every chance I get I tell them. I wouldn't be here without their support. That's what's kept me in it. Especially in Dancing With the Stars, when I was literally counting on people voting for me to keep me in the show. It's hard for me to understand. That was a crazy experience.
What would you do if you had a kid, you brought him to a restaurant and he started throwing a temper tantrum. How would you get him to calm down?
I'm 19! I don't know what you're supposed to do!
I know, but pretend.
Well I would think of a quick game to play to get him to be quiet. I always wanted to play a game when I was little. It always calmed me down. We could play, like, "I Spy" whisper-style.
Whisper-style! That's an excellent idea. Your kid is gonna rock.