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When The Glee Project co-winner Damian McGinty makes his Glee debut Tuesday, viewers will already feel like they know his Rory Flanagan. During the Oxygen reality competition series, Glee executive producers envisioned an Irish foreign-exchange student coming to McKinley and completely confusing Heather Morris‘ Brittany and that’s precisely who viewers will be introduced to this week.
The Hollywood Reporter caught up with McGinty to discuss how his Glee Project training prepared him, Rory’s romantic pursuit of Brittany and how Cory Monteith has taken him under his wing both on screen and off.
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The Hollywood Reporter: How much did The Glee Project prepare you for the realities of Glee?
Damian McGinty: The Glee Project for sure was in many ways the perfect preparation for being on Glee. No. 1, the orders on The Glee Project were similar to the orders on Glee. There were times on The Glee Project where we were shooting for 20 hours a day and it’s the same on Glee where some days are incredibly long. In that respect, it really prepared you for that and the workload you’re going to get, all the different dance routines and singing in the recording studio. It’s those aspects are very similar. But Glee is most definitely a completely different experience than The Glee Project. Glee isn’t a competitive environment so it’s much more enjoyable than The Glee Project. On The Glee Project, there was a lot of pressure and a lot of ragging on your performance whereas with this you can really enjoy yourself and give your absolute 110 percent best.
THR: During The Glee Project, Ryan Murphy and company envisioned you as a foreign exchange student and we see that’s been written in. How much more of what they discussed during the Oxygen show has translated to the screen on Glee?
McGinty: On The Glee Project, Ian Brennan and Ryan did mention that Brittany wouldn’t understand a lot of what I say, and that she’ll think I’m her leprechaun. And that is the way that at least for the first episode, that’s the way it is. I live with Brittany and Rory has a thing for Brittany and he really likes her but Brittany thinks Rory is her own personal leprechaun who nobody else can see. It’s a very funny script. Rory is like Brittany with a few of his one-liners. You can just imagine what Brittany has to say with all the Irish stereotypes. For the future, it’s about Rory trying to fit in and be a part of McKinley High and be accepted.
THR: How much of living with Brittany’s family will be incorporated in the show?
McGinty: We haven’t really looked into that a lot yet but I think eventually there’s probably a lot of mileage with that story line and you probably will meet Brittany’s family.
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THR: We’ve seen that Rory takes an immediate liking to Brittany, will she be receptive to his advances?
McGinty: It’s going to be interesting to see how the whole Brittany and Santana story line pans out. I don’t know if Rory is going to be successful in his advances. Rory’s only like 15, he’s very young so it could just be a crush or it could be that he really, genuinely likes Brittany. Whether it’s going to interrupt Brittany and Santana, I’m not 100 percent sure. We’ll have to wait to see.
THR: How will Santana (Naya Rivera) respond to Rory’s arrival?
McGinty: I think she’ll respond in a very angry and Santana-like way (laughs). Let’s just say she’s not Rory’s biggest fan.
THR: Finn will wind up bringing Rory in to New Directions. Will that be why she splits from New Directions?
McGinty: She doesn’t like Rory and Rory auditions for New Directions. I think Santana’s story line is much deeper than her leaving because this Irish kid who she doesn’t like has joined. She has more specific reasons and it’s all part of her incredible story line that she’s currently embarking on.
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THR: Will Finn take Rory under his wing and really look out for him amid the bulling that’s coming his way?
McGinty: That relationship is actually like real life: Cory has been like that for me. We’ve done a lot of scenes where Finn is teaching Rory and showing him the way and being a real mentor, like a big brother-little brother thing. It shows many things: Finn isn’t the kid that he was two years ago anymore; he’s now a mature adult who can be an example to somebody like Rory who is really young and vulnerable and has just come in.
THR: Does his arrival in New Directions threaten anyone else in the group?
McGinty: With this whole [rival] girl group starting up New Directions is aware that they need new blood. When I audition for New Directions it was in the script that Kurt (Chris Colfer) at the start of my song had to look a little threatened because I kind of show off a high part of my voice and do quite a bit of the song in falsetto and that’s Kurt’s thing: he’s known for singing very high. At the end of the song Kurt comes around and says, Oh, this Rory kid, maybe we do need a bit of Rory after all.
THR: What else can you share about Rory’s personality? He seems to have a very rockabilly style.
McGinty: Rory’s style is almost opposite from his personality. His style is kind of retro, kind of old but then Rory is this young really young soul and he’s very innocent and very vulnerable. He’s willing to take anybody’s word at the minute and trust what they’re saying because he wants to fit in — he has no friends and he just flew over from Ireland to McKinley High and he’s trying to fit in. He’s willing to trust anybody and he’s looking up to anybody and everybody but the thing about Rory is he’s always got a smile on his face, even if he’s getting bullied he’s going to smile. So the clothes and his personality are a fairly big contrast.
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THR: What songs are you looking forward to coming up?
McGinty: This episode, I’m singing “Being Green” (from Sesame Street) and “Take Care of Yourself” (by Teddy Thompson). “Being Green” is Kermit the Frog who actually sang it and I’d never heard of it. I checked it out on YouTube and it was really sad when Kermit was singing it and really touching. I think it’s a beautiful song. And “Take Care of Yourself” is a song I’d never heard of that Ryan gave to me. I think it’s a beautiful song and I hope I did it justice. I’m looking forward to singing more and I’m having a blast living my dream.
McGinty makes his Glee debut Tuesday at 8 p.m. on Fox in the “Pot O’ Gold” episode.
Email: Lesley.Goldberg@thr.com; Twitter: @Snoodit
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