Lea Michele has Justin Timberlake on her mind
Forget social misfit: Lea Michele may actually be "Most Likely to Succeed" on Emmy night for her turn as Rachel Berry on Fox's musical comedy sensation "Glee." Michele dishes with THR's Leslie Bruce about making the shift from Broadway to television comedienne, her inner Gleek and fantasies about Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears.
The Hollywood Reporter: Before "Glee," you were a fixture on Broadway. Did you ever think you would make the shift to a television comedy series?
Michele: I never thought I would be a comedic actor. In all of my shows on Broadway I played the most gut-wrenching, depressing roles. But I did watch a lot of "Saturday Night Live" as a kid. I would pretend I was Gilda Radner and re-enact "Roseanne Roseannadanna." Growing up, my mother would say that I was the daughter of Jim Carrey and Natalie Wood. I had this serious maturity about me, but had this insanely kooky side, too.
THR: Describe Rachel Berry in your own words and how she's developed over the season.
Michele: Rachel was me when I was younger and working in musical theater. I was very determined and I did a great show every single night. I never missed a performance. Since then, I've mellowed out, but there is a part of me that's very Rachel Berry. She is so different now than when we started. Initially, she was very "Pretty in Pink": making her own clothes, and wearing tons of necklaces with big theatrical makeup. We were figuring out who she was and we realized her personality was enough. She didn't need the gloves and pearls.
THR: Matthew Morrison expressed concern about how the series will adapt, as the students get older. How do you think the show will handle it?
Michele: There is definitely a way to drag it on. We've been working on the show for two years and we're just finishing Season 1! I don't think Ryan Murphy would ever keep it going if it didn't have life. I'm not going to be able to play a high school student forever and Cory (Monteith, who plays Finn) is like 50 years old, but there are so many unknown talented kids people could relate to.
THR: "Glee" is scheduled to air in the coveted post-Super Bowl time slot. Whose music are you hoping the episode will celebrate?
Michele: I think they are saving Justin Timberlake for the Super Bowl episode. They have to be, because he is so perfect for our show. He has to be on it! When I met Jessica Biel, like a loser, I asked her to tell Justin to come on our show (laughs). She was a little taken aback and said, "Um, OK. I'll tell him." If not Justin, I would hope it would be the sequel to the Madonna episode. She has so many more amazing songs we didn't even touch.
THR: It was confirmed this week that Britney Spears will be on the show. Do you have any insider details to share?
Michele: The Britney episode is going to be even bigger than Lady Gaga. Ryan is directing it and any episode that he directs, fans will love. The Britney episode is really Heather Morris' episode, who plays Brittany. Heather and Naya (Rivera, who plays Santana) will be doing a lot more this season and Harry Shum, who plays Mike Chang, is going to have a bigger part, too.
THR: What song do you hope "Glee" never attempts to re-create?
Michele: If I say what I don't want to do, Ryan will make sure I do it! My problem is that songs get stuck in my head. By the time we finish, it could take us 50 takes to get one song on film. I recently did another Gaga song -- I can't say which one -- and it's a hard song to sing because it's really fast. It was literally stuck in my head for days! I probably wouldn't want to sing anything I liked when I was 12 years old -- like the Spice Girls or Hanson. Although, "MMMBop" will probably pop up at some point in a bad '90s episode.
Lea Michele highlights
"Castle on a Cloud": As Young Cosette during the 1995-96 Broadway musical of Victor Hugo's "Les Miserables," Michele belts out the melancholy melody.
"Ragtime": Michele appeared in the musical adaptation of E.L. Doctorow's novel "Ragtime" from 1998-99 as the little girl of an immigrant family.
"Sunrise, Sunset": Continuing her Broadway run, Michele appeared as Shprintze from 2004-06 in the production of "Fiddler on the Roof," based on Sholem Aleichem's novel.
"Mama Who Bore Me": From 2006-08, Michele appeared as the female lead Wendla in Frank Wedekind's "Spring Awakening."
"Over the Rainbow": Michele is lending her pipes to Dan St. Pierre's 2012 animated musical "Dorothy of Oz" as the voice of the title character.
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