'Glee' Cast Shares McKinley Memories, Previews What's to Come
"I feel a creative renewal among us, not only changing locations, but also seeing these characters as adults," co-creator/executive producer Ian Brennan tells THR.
McKinley High will once and for all say farewell to New Directions on Tuesday, when Glee's two-part 100th episode closes the doors on its Ohio-set storyline for the season.
"Knowing where you're going to end up is one of the best creative tools," co-creator/executive producer Ian Brennan tells The Hollywood Reporter. "I feel a creative renewal among us, not only changing locations, but also seeing these characters as adults. They're half kids and half adults, and that's the dynamic of what it feels like to leave the nest. That has been really exciting this season, and we'll get more and more exciting as we move into season six."
As part of Glee's move east, Brennan says the goal for season six is to bring the show back to its roots. "The more familiar faces, the better we're going to be able to tell that last season of the story," he notes. "Everybody is everywhere, which is crazy; and it's good because everyone is successful, and it's a sign of a good show. I want all of them around all the time and to never leave."
Meanwhile, the show is still debating whether it's too soon to give star Lea Michele's Rachel Berry a new love interest after the passing of Cory Monteith and his alter-ego, Finn Hudson. "It's tricky. I still think that's in flux," Brennan says. "We know the direction we want to take it, but it's going to be a growing concern feeling that out as to when that's appropriate, whether that is even germane. We were just talking about how Finn and Rachel is the closest relationship on the show, and that remains even after Cory and Finn's death. That's heavy on our hearts all the time, and it's important to keep that central to not only the character, but the show. What you do on the outskirts of that is fine, but it always has to do service to that relationship."
To celebrate the show's big achievement, The Hollywood Reporter hit the red carpet at Glee's 100-episode party in Hollywood to quiz the cast on their favorite milestones and preview what's ahead when the Fox musical shifts its focus to New York.
Memorable moment: "In the first season, I was going through a rough breakup, and it was when we were still shooting in Long Beach. I walked onto the stage, and there were four people on stools singing 'True Colors.' That slayed me. It's also hard not to hear 'Don't Stop Believin' and not get the hair on the back of your neck up."
What's next: "We're shifting focus away from the McKinley kids, but we're definitely keeping that we're not on them but that's still happening," he says. "There's a story that we will get back to and catch up with our McKinley world in the last season. We're very aware that we have a world where there are people in New York, Ohio, Chicago and L.A. and it will be synthesizing all of those, which will be exciting."
Jane Lynch (Sue Sylvester)
Memorable moment: "The first song, 'Don't Stop Believin'. The first time I saw that, they had already shot it and were shooting my coverage, and I hadn't seen it yet. They performed it so I could know what I was responding to. I was so moved by it. The first time seeing this group of kids together, it was great."
What's next: Sue, too, is headed for the Big Apple. "I'm shooting an episode right now where I'm in New York and love happens for Sue Sylvester," Lynch says. "She's never been and has been mouthing off about it on a Sue's Corner, and in order to maintain her credibility she has to take a look at the place and make sure that she hates it. Michael Bolton isn't in the offing, but wouldn't that be fun! I'm going to have to make a phone call!"
Naya Rivera (Santana)
Memorable moment: "Literally all of them. It's every moment. The moments off-camera, when we're hanging out at lunch at base camp and talking. The moments on tour, in the hotels on tour or in each other's cars on the weekend: it's everything."
What's next: Brittana! "It's a bit of a cliffhanger right now with them but it's an exciting one," Rivera teases. "Is Santana going to follow her head or her heart? That's really sweet, but Brittany (Heather Morris) and Santana are like the North Star; you're always going back to each other." Asked if she thinks Brittany is "the one" for Santana, Rivera doesn't skip a beat. "Obviously!"
Chris Colfer (Kurt)
Memorable moment: "Getting cast. It was my first gig ever, and getting the call that I was a part of it was the biggest memory for me."
What's next: Best-selling author Colfer will pen his first TV episode with the show's 19th installment this season. "I've been pretty successful with the song choices -- everything I've wanted to do for my character has been chosen as of now. They still have to clear all the rights, but they all approved them in the writers' room." As for Kurt and Blaine, the engaged couple will go through some growing pains when the latter heads to New York full-time. "They're around each other a lot more, which adds a lot of joy, but also a lot of drama," Colfer says. "They're going through the ups and downs of what it's like to be a young couple in New York City." The series will also explore the duo's plan to tie the knot. "They're very young, and I hope they don't rush into anything they're not ready for; and Glee explores that a bit too."
Darren Criss (Blaine)
Memorable moment: "Shooting the 100th episode. Having everybody around was really special. There was one night when we were shooting at this club in L.A., singing 'Party All the Time' with Gwyneth Paltrow. It was so nice seeing everybody together. It's one of those Glee moments when you think that you probably won't get to do something like this ever again."
What's next: Following graduation, Blaine will have to learn to adjust to the big city and no longer being the big man on campus. "Guys like Blaine who fancied themselves as the alpha in high school get all kinds of confused and challenged with his new place, in this new world with his fiance and the other people he meets," he says. "He's re-establishing his ego in a new city." As part of that, Blaine will experience a bit of a slump. "When you live with somebody you're involved with for the first time, there's a lot of things that happen as a result of that. Blaine starts not feeling like he's who he used to be and goes through a bit of a slump. You get that depression with leaving home and not really knowing who you are anymore. I like that because it's real. When you move somewhere new you think about what you're doing there, and it's not all rainbows and sunshine a la Glee; it's real life."
Amber Riley (Mercedes)
Memorable moment: "There are so many, it's hard to pick one. When we did 'Somebody to Love,' that was the first time I felt we were really a group in a weird way. When we sang that song together, it was my very first solo in the show and it was really special."
What's next: Expect much more of Riley in the back half of season five. "Mercedes makes a bit of a move, so we're going to be seeing her for a couple of episodes in the second half of the season," she says, leaving the door open to return as a regular for Glee's sixth and final season. "It's so fun being part of this family because you can come in and go out," she adds. "I do other things, too. I'm trying to figure out my place because Glee is a commitment when you're there, but I really love it."
Harry Shum Jr. (Mike)
Memorable moment: "We did 'Somebody to Love' millions of times, but I remember we performed it at the Upfronts and this moment that [choreographer] Zach Woodlee told us: 'This is a song that Freddie Mercury talked about when he was dying. This was his last moment, and treat it as that.' It made the show feel a lot more special, and we realized that, outside of 'Don't Stop Believin',' this was a whole other level, and it wasn't about us; it was about this message."
What's next: Shum, who says he's up for anything, including returning as a series regular, says Tuesday's "New Directions" episode will offer a bit more about what happened between Tina and Mike. "She bumps her head again, and things go wild," he offers. "You get a bit of an explanation of what happened between her and Mike, and her crazy world just goes into a spin [but] it's still up in the air about what can happen in the future."
Mark Salling (Puck)
Memorable moment: "I always think back to when we did the Beatles number with the deaf choir, but there are so many moments. Harry Shum Jr. did a 100-second video on Facebook, and that almost brought me to tears. It's overwhelming."
What's next: Following Puck and Quinn's (Dianna Agron) reunion in part one, Glee will continue to follow the duo. "I hope that Glee continues to explore that relationship, and that they reunite with their baby," Salling says, noting he hopes to find Puck in New York at some point. "They had that storyline in season one, and it fell off, but Puck always wanted that baby. Their daughter is with Shelby (Idina Menzel) in New York, so I'm hoping that maybe they'll be trying to find her."
Jayma Mays (Emma)
Memorable moment: "For me, it's always the pilot. It was all so fresh for all of us because we were meeting each other for the first time and learning about what the show was going to be. None of us knew if it would even hit the air at that point. That's always the special episode in my mind."
What's next: Mays, whose CBS comedy The Millers was just renewed for a second season, says she can contractually come back for one more episode this season. (Next year, however, is a bit less clear.) "I know she's pregnant, but I don't know where they're going to take that and if she's going to have the baby this season or if it's going to be next season," she says, adding that she, too, has thought about what life would be like for Emma on the East Coast. "That would be the hardest thing in the world for Emma -- I love New York, but there are some germs there! For her, that could be the biggest challenge of her life!"
Melissa Benoist (Marley)
Memorable moment(s): "Meeting Mr. Jenner was a big deal. Every time we did one of those crazy musical numbers ... When we did 'Mamma Mia,' the Spice Girls and Wham, I always would come to work that day and be excited to be there. It's stuff I'm going to show to my kids someday."
What's next: Benoist hopes aspiring songwriter Marley winds up in New York too. "Marley would fit there, wouldn't she?" she says with a smile.
Blake Jenner (Ryder)
Memorable moment: "When I first started, I was so nervous, and I've loved the show and what it was about for so long, so to just be a part of it was crazy. Then meeting certain people [bride-to-be/co-star Melissa Benoist], every moment has been awesome. It's all been such an amazing experience."
What's next: For all of New Directions' underclassmen, reminiscing about what they've learned from glee club. "There's a nice little newbie scene in [this] episode when they're all talking about how glee club has changed their lives," Jenner says. "You get a little taste of what lies ahead for them from that scene."
Becca Tobin (Kitty)
Memorable moment: "I was petrified when I shot my first scene on my first day with Jane Lynch. It was pretty epic and I'll never forget it as long as I'm working."
What's next: "We see Kitty get a little emotional about her boyfriend leaving her back at McKinley," she says, noting Glee's move to the East Coast will be "a nice, fresh facelift" for the show. As for if Kitty could head to NYC to see Artie, that's less certain. "Glee is a revolving door of characters, so who knows."
Glee airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on Fox.