By Maria Elena Fernandez and Denise Martin, Times Staff Writers
Ryan Murphy, the creator of “Nip/Tuck” and “Popular,” is back with a comedy series revolving around singing, dancing high school misfits. What’s not to like?
We let the players explain why you should tune in to the May 19 premiere of “Glee” on Fox: (Fox)
Where you may have seen him: ABC Family’s “Kyle XY” and MTV’s “Kaya”
Cory on Finn: Finn is the quarterback, and he has a passion for singing but hes trying to uphold his golden boy jock-y image, you know, as being the cool guy in the school. Hes struggling between doing what he wants and being a cool guy. Thats his conflict. His jock-y friends and cheerleader girlfriend give him a hard time for it. So its the struggle to do what he wants versus what other people want him to do.
On his audition for “Glee”: “I ignored the fact that they wanted a tape of me singing and dancing because it’s not my strong suit, so I just sent the acting. Of course, I had to send the rest anyways. I sent a tape of myself singing REO Speedwagon’s ‘Can’t Fight This Feeling,’ but I did it like an ‘80s music video where I’m all looking out into the distance. It was really cheesy.”
On why he hates the “High School Musical” comparison: “How do I put this? ‘Glee’ is like ‘High School Musical’ if ‘High School Musical’ had its stomach punched and its lunch money stolen.” (Fox)
Where you may have seen her: Broadway’s “Spring Awakening” and the Hollywood Bowl’s “Les Miserables”
Lea on Rachel: Rachel is the star of her high school glee club in Ohio. Shes raised by two gay men, one Jewish and one African American. Shes very outgoing, a little bossy at times. Shes convinced this is her claim to fame but shes got a lot to learn. When Finn comes into the glee club, hes the jock, you know. Things are different. Shes a sophomore and is learning about her vulnerability and she just loves to sing. And shes really very good. So well see what happens with her love life and performing life.
On the difference between theater and the small screen: Im used to going to work [on Broadway] every night, knowing where the character is going to begin and knowing where shes going to end. I tell one whole life in one night. And the next day you do the same thing and every day you perfect the same material. Here, you do something and its gone, and you probably wont do that again, and you dont know whats going to happen to your character tomorrow, the next day or in a year. Its shifting gears in my head. I love doing the work and then forgetting about it. (Fox)
Where you may have seen him: His high school’s spoof of “Sweeney Todd” (which he wrote, directed and starred in)
Chris on Kurt: Hes very fashionable. Hes very low patience. Hes very vogue. Hes a lot of things. Hes a mess sometimes. I think theyve been describing him as the dramatic and fashionable soprano. I think Im just the soprano part. Hes the dramatic, fashionable and fabulous part. And Im not so much any of those things.
On his audition for “Glee”: I didnt go through a teenage rebellion period because I saw ‘Nip/Tuck.’ [Created by Ryan Murphy, who is the creator of Glee.] That was my teenage rebellion. My mom would say, Youre not allowed to watch that,’ blah blah blah. It was very nerve-racking auditioning in front of Ryan Murphy because Im such a huge fan. It was hard. Hes very nice. Hes a little intimidating at first, but hes great. Ive learned lots of things from Ryan. Ive learned how to deal with crazy people. Not that Ryan is crazy. But he likes crazy people.” (Fox)
Where you may have seen her: Ryan Murphy’s pilot for “St. Sass”
Amber on Mercedes: Shes a diva in training. But as any high school student, she doesnt have her identity yet. Shes fun and sassy. She likes clothes. Shes a girly-girl but with a little more attitude.
On getting to perform Jasmine Sullivan’s Bust Your Windows” in Episode 3: I was nervous when I saw the background dancers for the first time because theyre so tall and theyre kicking their legs up in the middle. Im like, my heads gonna be chopped off. I hadnt danced for a long time but now Im really comfortable. I was singing for a long time, doing open mikes, everywhere in Santa Monica, L.A., Hollywood. So performing is what Im used to. Im a little more comfortable doing this than the acting part. (Fox)
Where you may have seen him: HBO’s “True Blood,” Nickelodeon’s “Zoey 101" and the boy band NLT (Not Like Them)
Kevin on Arty: Hes a nerd but he thinks hes cool. He didnt get the memo that hes not very cool. And he cant walk. Hes in a wheelchair. But he forgets hes in a wheelchair because he still does all the dances and everything. They work around the wheelchair. I might bump into people, but it becomes very integrated. Its just like having legs, I forget about it.
On his biggest challenge: The wheelchair, because I dance. Its hard for me not to move my legs. Ive always danced. [McHale belonged to the boy band NLT (Not Like Them).] So its weird for me not to be dancing. We were doing the pilot and we were doing the big finale scene, ‘Dont Stop Believin' and they were like, ‘Kevin, can you please stop moving your legs to the beat?’ Everybodys singing and dancing and Im trying not to move and its the hardest thing. I have to tense my legs up. (Fox)
Where you may have seen him: Broadway’s “South Pacific,” “The Light in the Piazza” and “Hairspray”
Character: Will Schuester
Matthew on Will: “I’d love to say it was a big acting stretch to do this role, but it’s kind of what my life would have been if I hadn’t gone to New York and been successful there. [Will is a Spanish teacher and former glee clubber who makes it his mission to revive McKinley High’s defunct singing troupe.] I probably would have been a choir teacher or something like that.”
On working with Murphy and performing Kanye Wests “Golddigger”: I didnt know who he was before this. But its amazing. Hes such a great leader and I feel like this whole show starts at the top. Hes so confident. He knows exactly what he wants and it just trickles down and he just makes everyone feel so comfortable and safe. Ive never trusted a director so much. Hed say, ‘Do anything,’ and Im totally willing to try because I totally trust what hes trying to create here. He got me to rap. I had been dying to rap for years. (Fox)
Where you may have seen her: Broadway’s “The King and I” and “Spring Awakening”
Jenna on Tina: Shes a gothic stutterer. Her stutter is subtle. And Tina doesnt know where she fits in, like the rest of the kids in the glee club. Were kind of like the underdog/outcasts. You know, her closest friend in the glee club would be Arty. Thats pretty much Tina.
On having to stutter on command: Originally she had a much more dramatic stutter -- Tourettes almost. And so I did my research because I didnt want to ever make it like I was making fun of the stutter. I played her really positive and Ryan laughed and he said he really liked that, that shes like a happy geek. She wasnt a gothic at the time. (Fox)
Where you may have seen her: ABC’s “Ugly Betty” and NBC’s “Heroes”
Character: Emma Pillsbury
Jayma on Emma: Emma Pillsbury is a germiphobic school guidance counselor who longs to be unsanitary with the glee coach, Will Schuester.
On the most challenging part of the role: Trying not to bring Emma’s mysophobia home with me. Last week I plastic-wrapped all my furniture ... and bleached my cats. (Fox)
Where you may have seen her: CBS’ “Numb3rs” and NBC’s “Heroes”
Dianna on Quinn: Quinn is dating Finn. Of course, shes very religious. Shes the captain of the cheerleading squad. Shes the captain of the celibacy club. Shes got all these things that are her. She can be so evil, but you come to realize theres a lot going on with her.”
On why “Glee” is better than your average teen drama: “What I really like about all of these characters is that youre not the cool kid or the dork or the mean girl. There are so many shades to all of us, and thats really starting to unfold. (Fox)
Where you may have seen her: FX’s “Nip/Tuck” and NBC’s “Heroes” and “Friday Night Lights”
Character: Terri Shuester
Jessalyn on Terri: “I see Terri Shuester as pro-marriage. There is nothing she wont (and doesnt) do to save her marriage. Nothing. Some may be shocked by her choices, but I would ask those people, ‘Have you ever walked in the neighborhood of a person you had a crush on even though its on the other side of town for you, just in hopes of running into them? Have you ever pretended to have seen a movie they loved? Or laughed at a joke they told that you werent sure was funny?’ If so, dont judge Terri. As her sister Kendra explains, deceit may be the basis of a healthy marriage.
On why she wanted to be on “Glee”: “To sing. Which I have NOT been asked to do. The script was one of the most original pilots I’ve ever read, and Terri was an opportunity to play a role that is really different for me, but honestly, if Ryan Murphy was producing a reality show about Canadians who were willing to live without their big toes, I would probably have done that too. ‘Nip/Tuck’ was one of the best creative experiences of my career, so to work with Ryan Murphy again, along with much of the crew from ‘Nip/Tuck’ is something I have wished for when blowing out my birthday candles, or throwing a penny in a fountain.
On the most challenging part of the job: “The most challenging part of the role so far has been to restrain myself from singing or dancing when Im hanging around set in hopes that someone will give me a song to sing. I am surrounded every day by Tony-nominated Broadway stars, so it’s important that I sit on my hands and speak when spoken to. That way I hope to do the least amount of damage possible.” (Fox)
Where you may have seen her: Starz’ “Party Down,” CBS’ “Two and a Half Men” and movies including “A Mighty Wind”
Jane on Sue: I cant hold my authority the way Sue can. She rules with fear and threats, and for some reason, these kids really respect her and they do whatever she says. She really revels in having that kind of power. What I love about Sue is she doesnt get her hands dirty. She doesnt do a bend or a jump herself, but she certainly makes sure that she puts these kids through their paces. Youll hear me on the sideline yelling and demeaning them into a good formation, but you wont see her actually take part in it. Not at all.
On why “Glee” rocks: I think its gonna be huge. Its pretty amazing they do three or four musical numbers every week. Theyre full-on, produced like musical videos. It sounds like everybodys getting a number at some point. I might get a number. You know, I play the head of the cheerleaders and Im the nemesis. Im trying to destroy the glee club all the time. Im coming up with machinations and strategies. But I think at some point, Im gonna get to do a song. (Fox)