'Glee's' Mike O'Malley on Cory Monteith: He Was 'Very Real Quarterback on Set'

The Emmy-nominated actor also wants to return for the Fox musical's tribute to the late star.
Mike O'Malley with Chris Colfer on "Glee"

Mike O'Malley, the Emmy-nominated actor for his role as the world's most perfect father on Fox's Glee, paused to remembered Cory Monteith on Saturday while promoting his upcoming NBC comedy, Welcome to the Family.

"I had many of my scenes on Glee usually with either Chris Colfer [Kurt] or Cory, and I think I had what was probably the toughest scene I've ever acted in my career as an actor opposite [Monteith]," said O'Malley, who has recurred as Colfer's onscreen father, Burt Hummel. "I had to throw his character, Finn, out of the house because of a slur he used."

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Aside from being a supportive father to Kurt, O'Malley's character eventually became a step-father to Monteith's Finn Hudson as well, who directed the anti-gay slur toward his eventual step-brother during a season-two episode.

"It was remarkable to me, when we were shooting that scene over and over, the depth of emotion [Monteith] was able to portray -- the sorrow, the shame," O'Malley recalled. "Ever since I met him -- he was the fictional quarterback on that show and the very real quarterback on that set. He was an incredibly warm guy, a guy who was welcoming to everyone who came on that show from the beginning through the new folks who came on this past year. He was a very hard-working actor. I loved working with him. He was a great guy. I miss him very much."

Monteith died July 13 at the age of 31. An autopsy revealed that the actor died of "mixed drug toxicity, involving heroin and alcohol."

Fox and producers 20th Century Fox TV have pushed back the fifth-season premiere of Glee to Sept. 26. Co-creator Ryan Murphy told The Hollywood Reporter that the plan is to pay tribute to Monteith -- whom he described as an "older son" -- with a tribute during the show's third episode, assuming he and the producers "can get it perfect."

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"The right thing to do for the show, at least at this point, is to have that character pass," Murphy said. "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 [following Monteith's death] -- but do it in an upbeat way. If we can do this responsibly and help young people through these feelings, that’s the best that we can hope for."

Murphy -- who noted he was taking cues for the show from Monteith's real-life girlfriend and Glee star Lea Michele -- said his team didn't intend to tackle the tribute episode until after last week's memorial, as so much of the cast and crew are still making sense of their emotions. Grief counselors will be on the Glee set for several weeks once production resumes.

O'Malley also confirmed that he'd like to return for Glee's planned tribute episode. 

"I hope to," he told reporters Saturday. "I'm here doing Welcome to the Family, and we shoot one episode five days a week. But Burt is a very important role to me. It's been a great part and I've said to all those guys that I'll work early in the morning, late at night, Saturday, Sunday -- whatever I need to do to participate and continue to be on that show honoring Cory and his passing and that character. He is my step-son on that show. I certainly plan on being there. I think they're shooting that episode when we're on hiatus."

E-mail: Lesley.Goldberg@THR.com
Twitter: @Snoodit