June 12, 2012 10:00am PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Glee Project' Winner Samuel Larsen Talks Mentoring, Temptation and Romancing Quinn
Samuel Larsen returns to Oxygen on Tuesday as a mentor for The Glee Project, the show that helped make him a star among millions of Gleeks worldwide.
After being crowned the winner -- along with Damian McGinty -- and scoring an arc on Fox's Glee that has outlived his winnings, the dreadlocked and devout Catholic otherwise known as Joe Hart takes the mentoring baton this week on the reality competition series.
"In a weird way it was like being a senior in high school: You're still part of high school, but you're on your way out and everyone looks up to you," Larsen tells The Hollywood Reporter of his return trip to Glee Project. "More than anyone, I know exactly how each and every one of [the contestants] feels."
Larsen will oversee Tuesday's "Danceability" theme, the same episode that saw him receive high marks from Glee's Harry Shum Jr. during the first run of the series. Winning the one-on-one time with Shum was something Larsen recalls he didn't expect considering he doesn't fancy himself a dancer, and it's what makes the singer-actor best suited to mentor the hour.
"One of the biggest things I learned was that it's OK to be nervous and admit that you're having a hard time," he says. "But when the camera is rolling and the moment comes, you have to pull it out of yourself to do your best and sell it and be confident with it. You have to sell it even if you don't really have it and take the little things you can do and play them up."
One of last season's early front-runners, Larsen recommends that early favorites like Shanna -- who won mentoring time with Lea Michele in Week 1 -- hold back a bit and absorb all the new lessons coming their way.
"What I wanted to do was not do the best that I could from the get-go but still do well and not pull out everything from my bag of tricks so that they've seen everything I can do and there's nothing left to show them," he says. "At the same time, learn new things that you can pull out that will impress them. In order to stay a front-runner, you need to stay confident in yourself and every opportunity you have to learn something or think of a better idea of how to stand out to just go for it and not be shy about it at all."
As for how Glee Project prepared him for the role, Larsen says it was comparable to boot camp but that both shows are different experiences.
"Glee Project and Glee have the same spirit, but they're both harder in their own ways," he says. "With Glee Project, there's more pressure because you're being judged in everything you do. When you film Glee, you go to the studio and have an off day and it's OK, you're still going to be there; you take as many chances as you need."
While he and McGinty await word on what, if any, role they'll have with Season 4 of the musical drama, he has his own ideas of what the formerly homeschooled Joe could be up to next season.
"The biggest thing I want to see Joe do is really be tested and fall into temptation a little because that's a normal thing in everyone's life -- to build character, to see how you deal with those moments," he says.
As for Joe's budding romance with Quinn (Dianna Agron), Larsen says a little heartbreak wouldn't be so bad. "In a way, I think it's Joe's time to be heartbroken; it ended out of nowhere, and in a really weird way and being the homeschooled kid, he has never had to deal with his heart being broken before. So that would be interesting to see, especially for the first time."
Glee Project airs at 10 p.m. Tuesdays on Oxygen. Check out a clip of Larsen's turn as a mentor, below.