Cory Monteith's Friends Hold Impromptu Wake at His Hollywood Hills Home
Inspired by the arts and his teachers, the Canadian actor had worked to overcome his long and fierce struggle with addiction.
Cory Monteith’s Hollywood Hills home became the location of an impromptu wake for the 31-year-old actor as about a dozen people gathered late Saturday night to reminisce and grieve over the loss of their friend, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter.
At the home -- a well-appointed three-bedroom, three-story house with Jacuzzi and built-in grill -- were Monteith's roommates and other friends, including Ben Slutsky, manager of corporate finance and planning at MGM Studios, Justin Neill, and a couple of Monteith's bandmates from his group, Bonnie Dune.
Although he kept in touch with his roommates, Monteith had not been seen at the home, where he held a lease through mid-August, for more than a month. He moved out shortly after checking himself out of rehab at Crossroads in April, according to a knowledgeable source.
The death of Monteith, who shot to heartthrob status when Glee premiered in 2009, is an all too familiar and sad Hollywood ending. The actor was found dead in his 21st-floor room of the five-star Fairmont Pacific Rim hotel by the hotel’s staff on Saturday afternoon. On Monday, Vancouver police will conduct an autopsy to determine the cause of death.
Monteith, who in interviews had acknowledged a fierce struggle with addiction in the past, checked himself into rehab last March. At the time, he asked -- via his representatives -- that fans "respect his privacy as he takes the necessary steps toward recovery." By that time, the Calgary native had won legions of admirers and was drawing crowds of young girls wherever he went. It was at least his second stint in rehab; his first came when he was 19 years old.
Monteith described a difficult, tumultuous past that included attending more than a dozen schools and eventually dropping out of high school at age 16. (After his first stay in rehab, he went on to earn a high school diploma.)
"I don't want kids to think it's okay to drop out of school and get high, and they’ll be famous too," he said at the time. "But for those people who might give up: Get real about what you want and go after it."
Monteith at times seemed to wear his fame uncomfortably. When the show traveled to New York to film the second-season finale, the actor uneasily but politely signed autographs and posed for pictures with the hoards of fans that materialized at every location, including Central Park and Lincoln Center.
On Thursday evening, Monteith had dinner at Vancouver's East of Main Cafe with Maureen Webb, an early acting mentor and co-founder of Project Limelight, a nonprofit aid organization servicing homeless youth that Monteith helped Webb launch last year.
It was Webb, then a casting director, who suggested he pursue acting. She had met the 19-year-old Monteith through a mutual friend. In a promotional video for the launch of Project Limelight, Monteith admitted that as a teen, he struggled to find a purpose in life.
"I was fortunate to have the arts inspire me," he says in the video. "If it weren't for the teachers and actors who showed me, I would have never gotten into acting. I'd never have been able to find my way. I kind of wish this was around when I was a kid."
When Monteith entered rehab last March, Glee was nearing the end of production on its fourth season. His character, Finn, was last seen returning to the New Directions choir room to be a co-coach of the glee club as he continued to pursue teaching at a college in Ohio. He was slated to be a series regular in season five, which is scheduled to premiere Sept. 19 on Fox.
Glee has been renewed through season six, with speculation that it will be the final season of the series, which has experienced a ratings slide after a massive 2009 premiere and two highly rated seasons. Like many shows, the show's pull diminished significantly in the 2012-13 season. In moving from Tuesday to Thursday nights, Glee lost 21 percent of its showing among adults 18-49 and finished the year averaging 8.4 million viewers.
Still, Glee's ratings were strong enough to guarantee a renewal. It is Fox's fourth-best scripted performer -- behind The Following, Family Guy and New Girl -- and continues to be one of the biggest DVR growers on broadcast television. The most recent season of Glee jumped a robust 55 percent after seven days of time-shifted viewing.
Lesley Goldberg and Michael O'Connell contributed to this report.