Blogs & Columns
3 min

Ryan Murphy on Cory Monteith’s death and Glee’s hiatus

After overdosing on heroin and alcohol last week at The Fairmont in Vancouver, Cory Monteith will be honoured in a private memorial on Paramount Pictures lot by cast and crew of Glee, as well as in the third episode of the show’s fifth season, before the series goes on hiatus to figure out where to take the storyline next.

Glee creator Ryan Murphy has opened up to Deadline about Monteith’s death and how his girlfriend and co-star Lea Michele is leading how the show will deal with the loss:

"We will begin shooting in late August the two shows we had already written, so that people can physically go back to work,” Murphy said. “We will then do an episode that will deal with the death of Finn’s character and follow that with a long hiatus. I don’t know exactly when we will come back, and we are trying our best with this attempt at damage control. We are planning a memorial for the cast and crew sometime this week on the Paramount lot.

For many of the people we work with who are very young, and also for the fans of the show, this is probably the first time they have experienced death, and that was not lost on any of us here. I understand that everyone has their own way of processing grief. Every possible option was explored, and what we did was look to the people who loved Cory, who worked with him most, and specifically Lea. This is what they wanted to do.

These plans were not made rashly. We were left with the decision, what do you do? Do you cancel, shut down the show? Come back in December and January? We considered every option, and decided to do what the cast and crew felt best, the people who had something unique with Cory, who loved him. They wanted to be back on the set, where there is a sense of security, and where they can grieve together and talk about him. When that happens, we will have grief counselors for the first two weeks to help everyone through it. We had already written the two part Beatles tribute and we’ll shoot those and Cory’s tribute for that third episode and then we will take a long hiatus and figure out what to do. Will we have a truncated season? I just don’t know yet. Lea blessed every decision. I told her even I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to write about the death of someone I love. She wanted people to be together. She and Cory were the young leads of that show, the A story. Lea has been a leader all through this difficult process.

It is so very sad and tragic. Cory wasn’t just an actor on one of my shows, he was very important to me, and I was very invested in his sobriety. When I heard what was happening to him, I organized an intervention and got him into rehab last March. We socialized and we also fought, because while he was a lovely sweet guy, he was also a leader on the set, a strong personality and the only analogy I can think of is that he felt like an older son to me.

As soon as I heard what was happening, when we had two episodes left to go, I brought him to my office where we had the intervention. He said he wanted to finish the rest of the season, and I said absolutely not. We were not going to put a stupid TV show before his sobriety. I assured him he was not fired, that his job was secure, that he would leave today. He went with a whimper and not a bang and it was very emotional. On one hand, he was thrilled that people wanted to take care of him, though he also felt shame and regret. We had experts in the room and tried to let him know this was a disease. It was a tough and very emotional day and the last thing he said before he left was, ‘I want to get better.’ And I believed him."