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When Glee returns Jan. 17, Jayma Mays‘ OCD guidance counselor Emma Pillsbury will be on the verge of receiving her third marriage proposal, but this time it’s from the guy she’s had eyes for since Day 1: Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison).
While the duo’s path to becoming a couple wasn’t an easy one — Emma even tied the knot and split from her quickie marriage to John Stamos‘ Dr. Carl — Mays tells The Hollywood Reporter that the impending proposal won’t either be a traditional or a smooth one for the two “love-lost creatures,” but ultimately “they’re moving in good direction.”
The Hollywood Reporter: The episode was originally titled “The Proposal.” What was your reaction when you got the script?
Jayma Mays: I felt like [the writers have] been hinting at the idea of a proposal coming soon or Will and Emma moving a bit farther in the relationship. I got excited. I knew they’d been planning something for a while, so I knew it would be something kind of spectacular when it happened. I was really, really excited.
THR: With the episode now called “Yes/No,” will it be smooth sailing for Will and Emma?
Mays: Things can never be easy, can they? During Season 1, [Glee co-creator] Ryan Murphy said when people were like, “Are Will and Emma going to get together?” he said quite a few times that it’s our job as writers to keep them apart. I feel like you kind of have to keep that tension going, right? Like, are they or aren’t they? So, with the “Yes/No” title to the script, I think that goes along with what he’s been saying from the beginning: That you kind of have to keep people hanging in the balance with what’s going to happen with these characters. I think ultimately, they’re moving in a good direction.
THR: Will the proposal be a traditional one?
Mays: There’s nothing traditional about this proposal whatsoever. I think it’s one of the most spectacular proposals I’ve ever seen written. It’s really fitting for the characters. Knowing that people have wanted this proposal to happen for a long time, I think they’ll be really happy with it.
THR: Will it take place in this episode?
Mays: There’s definitely talk of a proposal.
THR: What role will the New Directions kids play in the grand proposal?
Mays: The New Directions are always going to be a part of Will and Emma’s life. People are speculating that they could be a part of the proposal and it’s not incorrect for people to speculate that the kids would also be involved in that. That’s such a big part of Will’s life and subsequently Emma’s life as well; they’re like family.
THR: In the teasers, Emma has this wonderful dream/fantasy sequence where she sings her proposal to Will. Who will ultimately pop the question?
Mays: Emma’s a bit more on the traditional side of things and would want Will to propose to her. But in the clips, you can tell that Emma is so kind of wrapped up in this notion of wanting to get married that she’s almost been pushed to the point of asking Will herself; she wants to get married.
THR: Will Emma’s expectations and OCD factor into the proposal?
Mays: I definitely think that’s going to be a big factor in not only the proposal but I’m sure it’s a big factor in Will wondering how he should propose and what marriage is going to be like with Emma’s issues. In the end of Season 2, it was dealt with as more of an issue: She’s really been struggling with this problem that she’s had for a really long time. Not only is it something to think about — how is he going to propose? Is it going to be clean? — but it’s also something that is dealt with in a more serious way of how is this going to affect their marriage? What is like going to be like together if you’re still having so much trouble with your OCD? It’s kind of a twofold thing in this episode.
THR: How will Emma respond to the proposal? How is Will going to respond once the question is out there?
Mays: There is that question of yes or no for both of them moving forward. It’s that game that you play with one person feeling like, “Yes, yes, yes!” while the other one’s like, “I’m not sure.” Then the other is, “Yes, yes, yes!” while the other is, “I’m not sure.” That’s a running theme throughout this episode. I think all that leading up to the proposal leaves you hanging for a second. If the question is asked, once it’s asked, what’s the answer going to be? Is it going to be yes or no? I love that tension they’ve created because if you know what someone’s going to say straightaway it takes some of the excitement out of it.
THR: Will both Will and Emma have reservations?
Mays: There’s a little bit of that for both of them because it does create this tension. Is he going to propose? Is she going to propose? Would he say yes? Would she say yes? Is it leaning more toward a yes or no? Are things going rocky again? Is she going to run off with another dentist? (Laughs.) The tension they create makes it really interesting for people to watch. I think they’ve done a good job of that in this episode in particular. It’s never easy.
THR: Will the question of Emma’s virginity come up in this episode at all?
Mays: We don’t really touch on the virginity thing in this episode. Maybe that’s because she’s so virtuous in thinking of moving into a wedding. They’re just focusing on these two love-lost creatures that should be together.
THR: Has this been a quick trip to the altar for Will and Emma? Is this too soon to be talking marriage for this couple, considering that they still have all these issues?
Mays: I know things have happened quickly in the past with Emma getting married and she was engaged and all these things. But I think all those things happened because she’s been madly in love with one person and felt like she couldn’t have him. But no, I don’t think it’s too soon. It’s Season 3 and we’re assuming that that’s been three years that they’ve known each other and possibly been in love with each other that long. If anything, I think people could have expected them to be married in Season 1 and that wouldn’t have felt too soon either.
THR: Considering Emma’s “ginger supremacist” parents didn’t take too kindly to Will, how will they handle news of a potential engagement? Will we see them again?
Mays: Yes, we’ll see them again. They’ll stick to the idea that they weren’t extremely happy on meeting Will the first time because he wasn’t a ginger and because he stood up for me. So, I wouldn’t suspect that they would take too happily to the news.
THR: Assuming Emma and Will decide to take that next step, who is Emma’s go-to person to share the news?
Mays: Coach Beiste (Dot Marie Jones). They have become very close friends at school. It’s funny, you kind of picture Emma as a little bit of a loner — that all she does is clean all day long and make pamphlets for her students. But I think probably her closest confidant would be Coach Beiste.
THR: Could Coach Beiste end up as a maid of honor or a bridesmaid?
Mays: I think that’s possible. She’s definitely a part of this fantasy, as is Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) for some reason. Even though she’s kind of been the nemesis to Will and Emma. In Emma’s fantasy everyone’s on her side.
THR: Could a wedding take place this season?
Mays: Oh gosh, that I don’t know. I haven’t a clue. I think it would be fun to see a wedding this season. Maybe it’s more fun to draw this part of the relationship out a little longer.
THR: Where do you see things going next for Will and Emma?
Mays: Emma is definitely looking forward to having a family, I think perhaps even Will. There have been hints this season of Emma maybe wanting to start a family soon. I think it’s not only the idea of getting married but having a family that she’s been hinting toward. I wouldn’t be surprised if maybe that’s where they took those characters next. But I also wouldn’t be surprised if they moved them in a completely opposite direction as well.
THR: Helen Mirren also guest stars in the episode as someone‘s internal voice in the episode. Is it Emma?
Mays: (Laughs) I wish she played my voice! I wish that someone would think that I could speak that eloquently. But no, she doesn’t play Emma’s voice.
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