'Glee' Creators, Stars on Cory Monteith Tribute Episode: 'There Is No Happy Ending'

Cory Monteith Glee 3D Premiere Arrivals - H 2013
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Cory Monteith Glee 3D Premiere Arrivals - H 2013

Following a summer that saw Glee lose one of its brightest stars with the passing of Cory Monteith, the Fox musical turns its lens on its star quarterback on Thursday when the series says goodbye to one of its own.

Titled "The Quarterback," co-creators Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan penned the hour to pay its respects to Finn Hudson, the lovable jock-turned-heart-and-soul of New Directions. The episode will directly deal with addiction, but will stop short of having the beloved character pass after an accidental drug overdose. Monteith was found dead on July 13 at the age of 31. An autopsy revealed that the actor died of a mixed drug cocktail involving "intravenous heroin use combined with the ingestion of alcohol."

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"We wrote it because we loved Cory, so the episode is about how those people loved Cory and find it really hard to go on with the show, so to speak," Murphy told reporters at the American Horror Story: Coven premiere. "But that's the whole point of the show. I could only sit through the episode twice; it was hard and I think people who are fans of the show -- and him particularly -- it would be great if they watched it with other fans because it has that family feel to it."

"It was really sad. Every day was really hard, but we hung together and it was really good to grieve together," star Jane Lynch (Sue Sylvester) told The Hollywood Reporter of shooting the Monteith tribute. "What a bright light. We miss him terribly and it's a horrible thing. We got through it and we got through it together as a family."

While it's unclear if the musical will use old footage of Monteith to close the book on Finn -- Lynch said there much wasn't in the script -- the episode will "mourn the passing of our quarterback -- and Cory Monteith, who was our quarterback as well."

Lynch -- who paid tribute to her late co-star at the Emmys -- said the episode will focus on how Finn's passing affects "each kid and every adult" and will illustrate how everyone comes together as a "McKinley family" in the same regard the group of one-time strangers united to the cast of Glee.

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Asked if there will be closure for Finn's character, Lynch offered a definitive answer: "No. And that's one of the things that Sue says: 'There's no happy ending.'"

Co-creator Falchuk told THR that directing the Monteith tribute episode "was definitely the hardest thing I've ever done." "My job as a director was to keep everyone in that grief because I didn't want anything fake in the episode, and I didn't want anyone to pretend they were sad," he added. "I wanted them to be sad about what they were sad about and to stay in that for the two weeks it took to shoot that -- and to keep pulling everyone back and to take care of them when they went there -- was a lot. I had a hard time. I'm more proud of it than anything I've ever done. It's for Cory."

Co-star Naya Rivera, whose Santana Lopez character was outed by Monteith's Finn and has had a rocky relationship with the former star quarterback, will have a central role in the episode. She says Santana "definitely has a tough time" with Finn's passing and isn't "doing too well" with it.

"[Cory's passing] is heartbreaking and it's even harder to have to mourn the loss of your friend on camera when it's not acting, per se," Rivera tells THR. "It's a real thing and it's trippy in that way. It's tough. but at the same time it's good that we're doing it because the fans loved him just as much as we do. It will be good to get a sense of closure and be included in it. I feel like that's what Cory would have wanted."

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Meanwhile, new Glee series regulars Melissa Benoist (Marley) and Blake Jenner (Ryder) tell THR that fans should expect the hour to be a "very moving celebration of his life" and described the episode as a moving one.

"Cory was such an amazing dude that even if you knew him for five seconds or five years, you had that place in your heart for him," Jenner says. "Everybody feels a sense of love and family for each other. We're all a unit going through it together."

Glee's Monteith tribute episode airs on Thursday, Oct. 10 at 9 p.m. on Fox.

E-mail: Lesley.Goldberg@THR.com
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