Cory Monteith Death: 'Glee' Co-Creator Ryan Murphy on Tragedy, Tribute
"When you're faced with something so sad and so shocking, what do you do?" asked the series' co-creator.
In the wake of Cory Monteith's tragic passing, Glee co-creator Ryan Murphy has struggled with how to move forward.
Describing Monteith as an “older son,” he acknowledges that he and his fellow producers, along with Lea Michele, Monteith’s co-star and real-life girlfriend, have had to discuss all of their options.
“When you’re faced with something so sad and so shocking, what do you do? Do we cancel the show? Do we start shooting in January? What do we do?” he says in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “Ultimately, we decided the best thing for everyone is to get back to work and be around people who knew him and loved him so that everyone can grieve together.”
As Fox announced Friday, Glee's fifth-season premiere date has been pushed back  a week. The season will now bow Sept. 26, with production set to begin in August rather than late July.
Murphy praises Michele’s strength throughout the past week, noting that he and his producers will continue to take their cues from her. Shortly after hearing the news, Murphy told Michele that it would be fine by him if she decided that the show or her role in it should not continue. According to Murphy, Michele "bravely" suggested that that wasn't an option.
What has not been decided yet is how Monteith’s absence on the show will be addressed. But the current plan is to pay tribute during the show’s third episode, assuming Murphy and his team “can get it perfect.” (The first two episodes of season five, a long-planned Beatles tribute, has already been written and will need to be tweaked slightly.) After that, Murphy intends to take a long hiatus and try to figure out what to do with the show and how to come back.
At this stage, the only thing that is clear is that they will not recast Monteith's Finn Hudson role, as some other shows have done in such a situation . "The right thing to do for the show, at least at this point, is to have that character pass. When we do the tribute episode to that character, we'll have to do it in a way where the castmembers will not have to re-create feelings of grief that they’ve had this week -- but do it in an upbeat way," he says. "If we can do this responsibly and help young people through these feelings, that’s the best that we can hope for." Murphy says that they don't intend to tackle the tribute episode until after the memorial, as so much of the cast and crew are still making sense of their emotions.
“It’s always sad and shocking when somebody so young dies, but one of the things that made it even more upsetting is that so many of us who knew and loved him were actively involved in trying to get him better,” Murphy continues, reflecting on the emergency intervention that they had with Monteith in Murphy’s office on the Paramount lot in March.
Monteith had resisted the idea of seeking treatment initially, noting at the time that he wanted to finish out the remaining two episodes of the show’s fourth season. He was told that his life was “more important than two episodes of some stupid f---ing TV show,” says Murphy, and that there would be a job waiting for him when he got back. Ultimately, the 31-year-old star agreed, suggesting that he wanted to get better. He then left for rehab with doctors, which had been arranged by the show. (Producers subsequently wrote his character out of the two remaining season-four episodes.)
Murphy describes the months since as “rocky,” noting that Monteith had come to visit him on the New York set of his HBO telepic The Normal Heart. At that time, Monteith claimed that he was clean and ready to get back to work. But on July 13, the actor was found dead in a Vancouver hotel room. An initial autopsy report  by the British Columbia Coroner's Service stated that he died of "mixed-drug toxicity, involving heroin and alcohol."
A memorial is scheduled for later this week, and there will be grief counselors on the set of Glee for a couple of weeks once production resumes. As many have said in the days since the Canadian actor's passing, Murphy notes what a “beloved” member of the Glee cast Monteith had been.
"Once you met Cory, you just sort of instantly fell in love with him because he was both an angel and a devil," says Murphy, adding: "He was someone that you just instinctively wanted to protect because you felt like he was a fatherless child, and after a very hard childhood he felt adrift in the world."
Email: Lacey.Rose@THR.com