Miley Cyrus (Tesh/Marie Claire)(Tesh/Marie Claire)
When 19-year-old Miley Cyrus announced her engagement to Liam Hemsworth in May, there were more comments about her marrying at such a young age than there were actual congratulations. But the former Disney star isn't listening to her critics. "Life is too short not to be with the person you want to be with," she says in the September issue of Marie Claire. "I don't really care about the wedding or the piece of paper as much as I do the promise we've made to each other. And we want to have a long engagement."
It took breaking up "once or twice" for Cyrus to realize that the "Hunger Games" hunk was the real deal. She says she initially thought she was too "young and immature" to be in such a committed relationship with Hemsworth, who is three years older. But, she adds, "At some point you realize these people you're hanging out with are your 'party friends'; they're not going to give a s--t about you in 10 years. Then you remember who you really want around you."
After getting back together, Cyrus and Hemsworth began talking engagement and she even looked at some rings online. Still, she says that when he did get down on one knee at the 8,000 square-foot Mediterranean-style home they share outside of Los Angeles (which used to belong to her parents, Billy Ray and Tish Cyrus, who now live two doors down), it was a "complete surprise." And the Australian native did a good job picking out the ring. The 3.5-carat Neil Lane diamond set in a yellow-gold band with filigree detailing is similar to one she says she saw online and liked. "I just love that it's old and has a story," Cyrus gushes. "And I'm happy because it doesn't look like anything else I wear."
Becoming Mrs. Liam Hemsworth isn't the only thing that Cyrus is looking forward to these days. The former "Hannah Montana" star is also working on a new album, which she claims will blow her pop star reputation out of the water, with Pharrell Williams. The hip-hop producer reached out to the teen after her Salvia incident in December 2010 when a video surfaced online of Cyrus smoking the legal hallucinogenic plant while at a party, and she was slammed for shattering her Disney good-girl image. "Pharrell said, 'Don't be offended because this is how I talk, but [I thought], That b---h is actually living,'" recalls Cyrus. "'She's not sitting there with her Momager's chain on her door. I want to free that bitch. I want her out of her cage.'"
The "Can't Be Tamed" singer then spent four weeks at Williams' Miami studio, where they recorded a handful of autobiographical songs, which she considers her best to date. "I was talking to [Williams] like he was an older brother, and everything I said was going onto the track," says Cyrus. "[I told my new manager, Bruce Flohr], 'I don't need the money. I don't care if I make a dime on this. Let me make a good record.' I got in there with Pharrell, and it was magic. Oh, dude, I'm so happy."
But while Cyrus claims she doesn't care if she makes any money on her upcoming album, she's certainly grateful for the big bucks she's made on past projects. "You always see the 70-year-old man driving the Bentley. He's saved up his whole life and now he's going to do something crazy," she notes. "Liam and I are really lucky because young people usually can't afford to do the things we do. You should be driving a Bentley when you're young and hot. That's when you look dope!"
The September issue of Marie Claire hits newsstands on August 21.