Remembering Cory Monteith

By July 15, 2013
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Cory Monteith, who played Finn Hudson on the FOX series “Glee,” died in a Vancouver hotel room on Saturday at the age of 31. I wasn’t friends with Monteith, but I did have a few interactions with him I wanted to share to give his fans another angle on who he was when the cameras weren’t rolling on the show.

When I worked as a studio page (aka “tour guide”) at Paramount Pictures, “Glee” was one of the most buzzed-about shows on TV. We had fans from all over the world come and visit the studio, and since “Glee” filmed on the lot, tons of crazed fans would come on the tour in the hopes of catching a glimpse of one of the cast members. Of all the shows that were filming there, the cast of “Glee” was by far the most averse to being seen or photographed. (Please note: I completely understand an actor’s desire for privacy, but one “Glee” cast member who will remain nameless demanded that a huge fence be constructed around the “Glee” trailers so tour guests couldn’t even see as we drove past. Leonardo DiCaprio was on the lot filming J. Edgar and didn’t request this kind of treatment.) Much of the “Glee” cast would turn and walk in the opposite direction the second they saw a tour cart, but not Cory.

Monteith was one of the few truly nice guys on the cast of that show. He would often smile and wave at our guests as we cruised past to another part of the lot, which totally made the trip for many of the teenage girls who were obsessed with the show. They didn’t need a photo op with their favorite stars – just being acknowledged was enough, and Monteith knew that tiny bit of effort on his part made a world of difference to these people who had traveled sometimes thousands of miles to Hollywood.

One time, Monteith and co-stars Naya Rivera (Santana) and Kevin McHale (Artie) were sitting outside the souvenir shop during some downtime between setups. Despite repeated warnings to leave the cast alone, a couple of deranged women in their mid-30s ended up blowing past me and running up to them, asking for photos and autographs. The actors obliged, and after the women were escorted off the lot (they were on their way out anyway, so I guess they figured they might as well take a risk), I walked back up to the cast and apologized for the women bothering them. Monteith replied with a variation of “no problem, don’t worry about it.” I told him no, it’s my responsibility to make sure that people don’t do that kind of thing and to make sure that the actors are left alone, and it wouldn’t happen again. He thanked me, but I could tell he wouldn’t have minded if that kind of thing happened once in a while. He always seemed happy to be there, happy to be working, and happy to be making people happy.

The few other times I ran into him, he was always smiling and energetic – even during early call times and late nights. (Say what you will about the quality of “Glee,” but they’d often work 12-16 hour days shooting their complicated dance sequences.) It’s a shame that we lost Monteith at such a young age, because that “glad to be here” attitude was serving him very well. That’s rare to find in a young actor, and I was looking forward to seeing what he would have done once he moved on from that show. I’m bummed we’ll never get a chance to find out. Rest in peace, Cory.

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Ben is a writer living in Los Angeles, California. His work has been featured at ScreenRant.com, FirstShowing.net, MySpace.com, GeekTyrant.com, and many more sites across the web. Some of his favorite movies include The Rocketeer, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Tombstone, Lucky Number Slevin, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Collateral, Double Indemnity, Back to the Future and The Prestige. Follow him on Twitter: @BenPears.