‘Glee’ at PaleyFest: Cast goes down memory lane, previews series finale

Actors Chris Colfer and Amber Riley on stage at The Paley Center For Media.
(Frazer Harrison / Getty Images)

Six years after the Fox musical comedy-drama “Glee” premiered, the show takes its final bow Friday night.

Last week, the cast gathered before a packed house at the PaleyFest, ahead of the series finale. From that talk, here are 16 bits of little-known “Glee” history and a peek into what to expect for the two-hour finale Friday:

1. Mark Salling, who plays Puck, lied in his audition about his age. He told the casting director he was 19 when he was really 26.

2. Darren Criss, who plays Blaine, originally auditioned for the role of Finn Hudson. When he watched the first episode and saw who was cast (Cory Monteith), he exclaimed, “Obviously!”

3. When shooting the pilot, Amber Riley couldn’t stop staring at the camera. “I was just lost. I don’t know how I kept this job,” she said.


4. Chris Colfer had his first alcoholic drink with cast members Kevin McHale, Jenna Ushkowitz and Riley. He was fresh out of high school when cast as Kurt.

5. Perhaps more popular than his character Sam Evans, Chord Overstreet’s lips got plenty of attention. He’s been called “trouty mouth” by fans numerous times, he said, but he has no qualms. “Girls love them,” he said.

6. The relationship between Colfer and Mike O’Malley as son and father was out of the norm for the representation of familial responses to gay children in the media. “That relationship was probably the most gratifying thing of this whole experience for me,” Colfer said. “It doesn’t get better that, when you get paid to do something that’s so meaningful to so many people.”

7. On the groundbreaking relationship dubbed as “Klaine” between Kurt and Blaine: “I think it’s much bigger than Chris and I,” Criss said. “It actually has more to do with the appetite of the current audience. I think the fact that people have gravitated so much to it and embraced it really speaks less of us and the writers and more about the world we live in now.”

8. Queen of the questionable yet hilarious one-liners is Dot Jones as Coach Beiste. Her favorite, which she said to Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch): “You’re all coffee and no omelet.”

9. Best guest star, as agreed on by the cast: Kristin Chenoweth as April Rhodes. “Her energy, in general, is just happy, and she always brought gifts,” Riley said.

10. In this final season, Coach Beiste comes out as a transgender person. That episode featured a choir of over 200 transgender men and women. “I was crying in the episode, but I was literally bawling my eyes out,” Jones said about the scene. “They were just so proud to be represented, and in a positive way, as they should. We all should.”

11. Hardest musical number: the one in wheelchairs or “Singing in the Rain.”

12. The first half of the season finale is titled “2009.” It covers the background of the series’ first episode leading up to each character’s audition for New Directions. We also get a peek into the formation of the Sue Sylvester-Will Schuester rivalry. On filming the episode: “I did not realize how fast I talked [as Rachel Berry] every single day back then,” Lea Michele said. “It was really really hard to snap back into that really fast pace , but it was great to not wear makeup.

13. In the second hour of the series finale, Rachel’s last solo is a song called “This Time” written by Criss. “Darren gave me the greatest gift,” she said.

14. In the final scene of the series, Mr. Schuester sings one final song to the original New Directioners.

15. The show has had an invaluable effect on the actors. For Riley, the last six years helped her gain confidence about her body. “I’ve really learned to embrace my curves,” she said.

16. Everyone from the cast took mementos from the set. Lynch took three track suits, the signature outfit of Sue Sylvester, while Criss and Overstreet nabbed pieces of the red soundproofing material from the walls of the chorus room for their home studios. The auditorium stage was also sawed into pieces, with each cast member getting one.

The two-hour series finale of “Glee” airs at 8 p.m. Friday.

Twitter: @TrevellAnderson