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OCT
18
2 YEARS

'Glee's' Lea Michele Previews Rachel and Kurt's 'Emotional' Homecoming

The actress previews the NYADA freshman's upcoming theater auditions, returning to McKinley for "Grease" and her "hope" that Rachel and Finn will end up together.

Glee Break Up Rachel Finn - H 2012
Fox
"Glee's" Lea Michele and Cory Monteith

"I can't do this anymore; at least not now. We're done."

It's been two weeks since Lea Michele's Rachel said the unthinkable to Finn (Cory Monteith) during Glee's emotional "Break-Up" episode, sending the fan-favorite couple on their separate paths.

"I laid in bed and just cried like a baby," Michele recalls of watching the episode alone after having received a rare advance DVD of the episode from Glee co-creator Ryan Murphy. "Cory was like, 'Please wait, don't watch it so I can watch it with you.' There was one night I was sitting by myself and I just had to watch. It was amazing and by far one of my most favorite episodes ever."

So what's next for the NYADA freshman? Returning to McKinley High to see the Finn-directed Grease musical, a Scissor Sisters duet with co-star and Glee roommate Chris Colfer and beginning her own audition process as she looks to take the first steps toward Broadway.

The Hollywood Reporter caught up with Michele to talk about the heartbreaking episode, celebrating four years of Glee and how Rachel and Finn's split will impact her.

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The Hollywood Reporter: What was the hardest part about filming the "Break-Up" episode?
Lea Michele: Doing that breakup scene with Cory. Because of how far our characters have come, just to get to that emotional place -- especially after the train scene -- then to have to go even further emotionally breaks my heart because I love Rachel and Finn together so much. We worked really hard on it, and I'm very happy with how it came out.

THR: Is there hope for Rachel and Finn in the short or long term?
Michele: For the short term, they will be apart. It's going to be interesting to see what happens with Rachel and Brody (Dean Geyer). I have a feeling Rachel is going to be single for a little while and focus on why she came to New York, which is to go to NYADA and become a Broadway star. But in the long run, it's my hope that they'll end up together.

THR: At NYADA, Rachel struggled a bit with dancing before catching on (thanks to Brody). Is there anything else she won't be good at that we'll see her struggle with this year?
Michele: She's going to want to start auditioning for some shows, and it's going to be interesting to see her in that environment of auditioning for theater in New York and trying to become a singer or an actor. She hasn't really branched into that yet, but that's where things are headed, that will be the next level for her.

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THR: Speaking of musicals, McKinley is staging Grease. We saw with the Britney Spears episode that what happens in Ohio often has an impact on those New York. How will Grease impact the NYADA storyline? 
Michele: We come to see them, of course! (Laughs.) Finn is working on the show and Blaine (Darren Criss) is in the show, so Kurt and Rachel come back to see both of their exes. It's a very emotional return to McKinley. It's the first time they've come seen them since the breakups.

THR: What is that reunion like?
Michele: It definitely isn't simple; it's filled with a lot of weird emotions as all breakups are. It is important for people to also see Rachel independent and single. I love working with Cory and feel like I do a lot of my best work with him, so that part sucks (laughs).

THR: How will Rachel and Kurt support each other post-breakup?
Michele: We go into it where Rachel is the rock for Kurt and then it switches and Kurt becomes the rock for Rachel. I love Kurt and Rachel, they're the Laverne and Shirley of this generation. If I can't be with Finn, then I'm happy to have my new partner in crime. We have a great scene in the Thanksgiving episode where Rachel and Kurt decide to stay in New York and we have a feast where Sarah Jessica Parker's Isabelle comes over and invites some amazing and fabulous fashionistas to our apartment and we sing one of Chris Colfer's favorite songs by the Scissor Sisters. It's the coolest, most out-of-the-box, wacky scene. It's so fun this season that I get to be doing such interesting, cool and fun stuff. I just did a scene with Kate Hudson the other day that was incredible. I'm really happy to still be going back to McKinley to see everyone and also having such an awesome storyline in New York.

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THR: Does Brody have a romantic connection to Cassie (Hudson)?
Michele: (Laughs) You'll see! I had a feeling about that from the beginning. How it works out is unlike anything you can imagine; it's pretty awesome.

THR: Rachel and Brody were having a well-earned romantic moment when Finn's visit throws a wrench into that. How will the Finn fallout impact their burgeoning romance?
Michele: Brody is understanding of what Rachel needs to do with Finn, but he definitely is also on his own path.

THR: You just marked the four-year anniversary of starting work on Glee. How did you celebrate?
Michele: Unfortunately, I had the day off. But the whole cast, when they were filming, watched the pilot together on set. I wasn't there, so I watched it at home by myself. It was really amazing. I can't believe it's been four years now, and from watching that pilot, we really all looked like babies. It's unbelievable just how far everything has come. I'm happier now than I've ever been on the show and in my life. I really owe so much of my happiness to Glee.

THR: You worked with Pitch Perfect's Skyler Austin on Spring Awakening and remain close. Any chance he could pop in on Glee?
Michele: We've been trying! I wanted them to see him for Brody and for so many characters along the way but he just has to stop being a movie star and doing so many movies! I'm his biggest fan, he's one of my best friends, and I couldn't be happier for him and his success. He's amazing in Pitch Perfect. The minute I can get him on Glee, I want him on the show.

What do you think about Rachel hitting the pavement as a single woman in New York auditioning for local theater productions? Do you think Brody and Cassie have a romantic connection? Hit the comments with your thoughts. Glee returns Nov. 8 on Fox.

Michele, the official Candie's spokeswoman, recently hosted a Virtual Pop-Up Shop in Los Angeles to promote its fragrance launch and holiday dress collection. Candie's is exclusively available at Kohl's.

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@thr.com; Twitter: @Snoodit