Glee co-creator and producer, Ryan Murphy, opened up to E News about the death of Cory Monteith and how the musical comedy will proceed without the beloved star. Also, how the show will honor his memory.
The first TWO episodes were written back in May, and will proceed with a little modification. Cory’s death will be memorialized in episode 3. Ryan tells THR, The right thing to do for the show, at least at this point, is to have that character pass. When we do the tribute episode to that character, we’ll have to do it in a way where the castmembers will not have to re-create feelings of grief that they’ve had this week — but do it in an upbeat way.” Decisions for the future of the show will be decided during an extended hiatus that follows Cory’s memorial. It was Lea Michele’s decision to go back to work right away. There will be grief counselors on the set for the first two weeks of production.
We had two episodes that we finished writing in May that were our Beatles tributes that we we’ve been working on for four years, so those were already done. With some slight modifications, we decided, ‘OK, let’s shoot these. Let’s get people back and then let’s take the time to write and deal with a tribute to Cory,’ which I guess we’re going to do for episode three and then after that episode airs, we’re going to go off the air for awhile and take a little hiatus and figure out what is the future of the show. But for now, we just decided to do is continue on working for the next month so people could really deal with this and not feel isolated and alone. That’s something Lea felt strongly about and she really is the one making those decisions. We followed her lead.
Ryan took Lea Michele’s lead. If she had wanted to quit the show, he would have taken it off the air. But, he said, that’s not how Lea operates:
She’s handled this with so much humanity and grace and she’s also handled this in a way where she’s trying to look out for 500 other people affected by him and who have mortgages to pay and families to feed. That was never on the table for her and I said, ‘OK.’ Nothing has been done and will be done in terms of any of the material without Lea blessing it and making sure it’s OK with her and she has been.
Ryan also talked about how he and Lea staged an intervention at his office with the appropriate people after learning that Cory was using again. Cory wanted to continue working and Ryan said “that’s not an option.” Cory was afraid he was going to get fired, but Ryan assured him there was a job waiting, while also ready to give him more time off, or facilitate a stay in a sober house. Cory’s last words to Ryan were “I want to get better.” While Cory was a sweet man, he was also very strong willed, said Ryan. He couldn’t force any more on Cory than he was willing to do.
As far as how Ryan would like Cory to be remembered he said:
It’s very difficult and emotional for me to talk about that. I just feel like the thing about Cory is that..Cory really was in many ways like that character. Cory was in the first scene of Glee that we shot that I directed in the pilot, he was the first person on camera and it was a very nerve-wracking time and no one knew what would happen with the show because a musical had never worked. I was particularly unsure about it and I remember after the first take, he finished his thing and came up to me and leaned down to me and said, ‘This is going to be fun.’ And I think that’s the way he was on the show, on the set; he was a real leader. He was very beloved by the crew. I think Cory was very much like Finn that Cory really was a champion of young artists and the underdog. I hope that that’s how he’s remembered and I think he will be because that’s how he was in real life with his causes and his outreach programs. Also I think a lot of people, a lot of young kids, have watched that evolution of that character and have been touched by it and hopefully that’s his legacy.
Ryan said the memorial would not only be for Cory, but for the character Finn as well. “I have no doubt it’s going to be an incredibly rough time, but what else do you do?” he said. “You either you deal with it head-on or you just disappear until January or February and I think that’s not what people need right now from a position of leadership.”
ETA: Ryan told Deadline that Glee will begin shooting in late August. A memorial for the cast and crew is being planned and will take place sometime this week on the Paramount lot, where Glee is filmed. The tribute episode will be penned by Ryan and fellow co-creators, Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan. They aren’t sure at this point what form it will take, but will use Lea as a “creative barometer.” Finn was very much a part of the original storyline for season 5. Cory felt that working on the show would only help him maintain sobriety.