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The sudden death of Cory Monteith, 31, has been tough on fans, but even tougher on his Glee family. Monteith was seriously dating co-star Lea Michele, and creator Ryan Murphy has said that the actor was like a son to him. With Glee scheduled to return in the fall, Murphy has struggled with how to continue the show without Finn Hudson. This weekend, he revealed his decision to several media outlets.
"The right thing to do for the show, at least at this point, is to have that character (Finn Hudson) pass," Murphy told The Hollywood Reporter. "When we do the tribute episode to that character, we'll have to do it in a way where the cast members will not have to re-create feelings of grief that they’ve had this week -- but do it in an upbeat way. If we can do this responsibly and help young people through these feelings, that’s the best that we can hope for."
Murphy didn't immediately come around to the idea of letting Finn die. In fact, he was fully prepared to cancel Glee rather than force Michele to face Monteith's death all over again. In the end, he says he left the decision up to the actress, 26.
"If Lea had said to me, 'I could never do this again and I don't want to do this again,' you know, she is sort of the show, so what do you do? And I would've, out of respect to her as a person, said 'okay,'" Murphy told E! News. "But that's not how Lea operates; that's not how she feels. She's handled this with so much humanity and grace and she's also handled this in a way where she's trying to look out for 500 other people affected by him and who have mortgages to pay and families to feed. ... Nothing has been done and will be done in terms of any of the material without Lea blessing it and making sure it's okay with her."
He added that the cast and crew "wanted to be together, they wanted to go back to work, they wanted to sort of be in a place where they could all remember and discuss Cory sooner than later."
That said, Glee will obviously not continue on schedule. On Friday, Fox announced that the premiere date would move back one week in September. Murphy has explained that they will shoot and air the first two episodes of the season, which are Beatles-themed, and that the third episode will be rewritten as a tribute to Monteith and his character. After that episode airs, Murphy plans to take an "extended hiatus" in order to figure out the future of Glee and give the cast and crew time to heal.
"We’re going to take a long writers’ hiatus after that episode to refigure the season and continue to take care of the cast and crew and work on setting things up in Cory’s honor -- scholarships, what have you -- because that’s something we’re dedicated to doing," Murphy told TVLine. "It’s just a crazy, really difficult, very emotional time."
Not only was Murphy a boss and friend to Monteith, he describes himself as "actively involved in trying to get him better." Earlier this year, Murphy and Michele staged an intervention, which ended in Monteith going to rehab. Both the producer and the actress insisted that he immediately get treatment rather than shooting the final episodes of Glee's fourth season.
"He wanted to finish those last two episodes of [Season 4], and that’s when we found out about the addiction flaring up again and I said, “F**k no. We’re writing you out of these episodes. Your life is more important than any stupid TV show. You’re not going to film. You’re going to get in a car right now and get help," he told TVLine. "I thought he was going to fight me. He said, instead, 'Okay, I’m so glad it’s over.' He embraced it and went without a fight and got in a car and went to rehab."
The actor completed his 30 days of rehab but relapsed tragically. On July 13, he was found dead in a Vancouver hotel room, due to what the autopsy stated was "mixed-drug toxicity, involving heroin and alcohol." Since that day, we've all been wondering how Michele is holding up. Murphy says that she's handling her enormous loss with incredible strength and grace.
"She's... been a rock for many people as well. I’ve never, ever met a 26-year-old girl or boy who’s capable of doing what she’s done in the past week. I marvel at it," Murphy said. "I really have taken -- as we all have -- our lead from Lea. We won’t do anything that she doesn’t want to do. We’re planning a memorial service this week for the cast and crew and people at Fox, everybody who loved him. She’s been planning that and making decisions."
The fifth season of Glee will now premiere on Sept. 26. Three episodes will air this fall, including the Monteith tribute, which Murphy has said they will only air if the writers "can get it perfect."