Murphy, who co-created the teen drama, centred around a high school show choir, appeared on the “Glee” re-watch podcast, “And That’s What You REALLY Missed”, where he got candid about the months leading up to the young actor’s death.
Monteith died at the age of 31 from a heroin and alcohol overdose in July 2013, and his character, Finn Hudson, passed not long after, in a tribute episode titled “The Quarterback.”
“I would not have done that show now. I just would not have done it,” Murphy told “Glee” alums Kevin McHale and Jenna Ushkowitz about making “The Quarterback” episode. “I felt like it was way too raw and way too soon.”
He continued, “But this is what happened, so, Cory died, and the months leading up to that were very fraught and emotional and difficult to love someone — and I had no idea that he had a drug problem. I was naive. I didn’t know. And I was the person who had to lead the intervention, not knowing what to do, or what to say, I was just like, desperate for him to live.”
Murphy said that when Monteith passed, there was a decision that had to be made regarding the future of the show, with the TV producer revealing that the idea of canceling “Glee” altogether was on the table.
“When he passed, there was a decision that we had to make about, do we cancel the show, or do we go on?” Murphy revealed. “And it was a difficult decision, and I had a conversation with Lea (Michele) about it, because she was dating Cory and was very involved in the thing, and it was like, ‘Well, what do you want to do?’”
“And it was a big corporate decision, and there was a decision after a couple of weeks of, well, there’s a crew here that’s been with us from day one, there are many jobs on the line, the show was still doing well, do you keep it going or do you cancel it?,” He continued. “Of course, there’s no right answer, and I didn’t really know what to do.”
After having plenty of conversations with some of the cast, crew and studio heads, “Glee” continued, but the question of how to address Monteith’s death remained unanswered.
“I remember after many conversations, from a lot of people weighing in, we made the decision to, well, let’s keep it going. And if you’re going to keep it going and keep these jobs going, how do you address what happened? Because the male lead of the show died, so what do you do?” Murphy went on to share. “Do you just pretend it didn’t happen? You can’t do that. Did he die off-camera? That didn’t feel right to me, and I just think that with a lot of conversations, we decided to pay tribute to him, and it was something that I remember even then thinking, ‘OK, if we’re gonna do this, people are gonna have a lot of feelings.”
Murphy said that he was devastated by Monteith’s death, especially after he was under the impression that the young actor was improving following the intervention he staged for him.
“It was very unexpected,” he admitted. “So we decided to do the tribute episode, and I remember the one thing that I asked for was that there was a grief counsellor on set, who at any moment could — people weren’t really doing that back then to my knowledge, but I also remember that not one single person talked to that grief counsellor. Nobody was interested in really sharing it.”
While Murphy said “The Quarterback” episode is one he watched just once, he said if he could do it all over again, he would’ve put the show on pause for a bit while the cast and crew healed Monteith’s tragic passing.
“If I could do it all over again, knowing now what I do know, I probably would’ve said, you know what, we’re gonna take a year off and we’re gonna check in and see how is everybody — even six months,” Murphy said. “I remember everybody had time off after he died, I remember we kept moving the shooting date, but the world was a different place then, and everybody who were our bosses had great empathy.”
He continued, “None of us know what to do. None of us knew how to handle it. None of us knew how to pay tribute to him. None of us knew what to do with the business, but all of us did know that when that happened, I think our hearts all kind of broke and we were kind of done.”
“Glee” first premiered in 2009 and ran for six seasons, airing its final season in 2015, just a year after Monteith’s death.
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