Lea Michele: Cory Monteith Brings Out the Best in Me

In an exclusive Q&A with iVillage, the actress dishes on the joys of working with her boyfriend and reveals scoop on the upcoming season of Glee

Glee star Lea Michele knows how to make an impression on the red carpet -- but that doesn't mean she helps her boyfriend and costar Cory Monteith get dressed for star-studded affairs.

"Five minutes before we leave he'll throw on a suit and look like he spent hours getting ready. Guys are so lucky that they get to do that," Michelle, 25, laughingly told iVillage while in New York to promote the Valspar Hands for Habitat Charity Auction. (The auction features autographed handprints from Michele, Harrison Ford, Joan Rivers and a bevy of other stars, and proceeds benefit Habitat for Humanity's Disaster Response Programs.)

"I don't really have any tips to give Cory because it's just so, so easy for him," Michele added of her 30-year-old beau. "He seems to have it figured out."

Another thing Monteith has figured out: how to bring out the best in Michele, both on screen and off.

"We were playing Finn and Rachel before anything, so we've always just wanted to do the best job on the show," Michele replied when we asked about the pros and cons of working with the person you're dating. "I absolutely love working with him so much. He really pushes me and definitely makes me work harder. I have so much fun working with him. Always, from day one, he's been such an incredible person to have as a costar."

Check out the rest of iVillage's exclusive interview with Michele below for scoop on Glee season 4 (debuting Sept. 13 at 9 p.m. ET on FOX) -- including how the show will be structured now that the cast has been split up geographically, what's in store for Finn and Rachel, and which costar makes Michele feel like she's "playing tennis with Serena Williams."

How is the upcoming season of Glee going to be structured now that the main characters will be scattered?

It's basically just going to be: One scene is me in college and the next scene will be the kids in high school. It’s going back and forth very evenly between my story line in New York City and the kids in McKinley.

So it won't be split up geographically by episode?

You know, it may be sometimes. There may be an episode where you just see the high school kids or the college kids. It’s possible. The Glee formula kind of gets worked out as the season goes on, but it seems right now that everything is very easy. They're coming up with very creative and interesting ways to tie in everyone. There'll be a scene where I'm on the phone with someone who's in high school -- so they’ve got lots of great ways of connecting the dots.

As far as Finn and Rachel, are they going to be separated for part of the season? The last time we saw them, Rachel was in New York and Finn had joined the army.

I'm really not sure. The season begins with her very uncertain. He's away and they haven't spoken, and she really doesn’t know what's going to happen with that. So I'm kind of on the same page as Rachel. I don't know. Obviously, Cory will be back this year, which is great. But as far as what their story line together is going to be, I'm not so sure yet. It's good, because it's helping me play Rachel with the uncertainty and everything.

And you're going to get to work with Kate Hudson this season.

Yeah, she's my teacher at NYADA. We're going to be working one-on-one together a lot.

Will you be working with Sarah Jessica Parker at all?

You know, I'm not really sure what her role is going to be, but she's going to be working with Chris Colfer a lot.

So he's in New York too?

[Laughs.] We'll have to see.

Any big musically themed episodes you're looking forward to this season?

We're doing a Britney Spears tribute for our second episode. It's going to be hi-larious. It's obviously going to feature Heather Morris, who plays Britney the cheerleader on the show, and it’s just so funny. She’s gonna do an incredible, incredible job.

Were you bummed that Glee got snubbed in this year's Emmy nominations?

I just think it’s a sort of natural progression. When you’re on a show for a while, other new shows come in. I’m a huge fan of Girls and so happy that Lena Dunham got nominated and the show got nominated. We’re all in this together supporting one another’s shows. We definitely had our time with awards and everything, and it’s other people’s turn right now. It’s how things go. For example, I’m a huge fan of Grey’s Anatomy. I watch every episode and I think they deserve to be nominated every year, but they’re on their like twelve-hundredth season right now and aren’t really on the awards circuit anymore -- but that doesn’t mean that their episodes and their acting aren’t still as superb as they were before. So I'm just happy for the other shows whose time it is now. I love Modern Family and think they deserve all the awards and everything.

Who's your favorite person to work with on the show?

Honestly, every day I get to work with someone new on the show. I know that this year I'll be getting to work a lot with Cory and with Naya Rivera and Chris. I think Naya is incredible. I love working with her -- it's like playing tennis with Serena Williams. But I love working with everybody so much.

How did you get involved with Valspar Hands for Habitat?

The organization approached me a couple of months ago to donate a handprint to Valspar Hands for Habitat, and I thought it was such a great idea to have all these celebrities donate a handprint that they'd eventually auction off and raise money for the Habitat for Humanity Disaster Fund program. I’ve always been so impressed and amazed by all the work Habitat for Humanity does for people. So what they’re doing right now, and it’s so great to get to be a part of that and just do something that takes like two seconds but will help to raise a lot of money for a very important cause.

Do you do any other charity work?

I've been really sort of raising awareness of the carriage horses in New York City with help from PETA to show everyone that -- if you're from New York you know -- it's just such a horrible, terrible thing for these horses to have to pull people in terrible weather, in the snow, in the rain, in the heat. That's something that I've been fighting for and working on for such a long time. It's hard working on certain issues, sometimes you can feel like there's no hope. That's really just what I love so much about Habitat for Humanity. What they do is they rebuild hope and they rebuild people’s lives with the help of Valspar. That's why I'm so excited to be working with them right now.

To see the full list of celebrity handprints up for auction, head over to the Valspar Hands for Habitat Celebrity Auction Facebook page.

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