MoviesOnline sat down last weekend at a press conference in Los Angeles with cast members Mark Salling, Chris Colfer, Lea Michele, Ashley Fink, Darren Criss, Amber Riley and Jenna Ushkowitz to talk about their new movie filmed at two June 2011 performances at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Glee, the multi-generational phenomenon that has inspired millions to embrace their inner Gleek, will soon bring them together to experience the characters, music and magic in a whole new way, via the immersive magic of a 3D motion picture theatrical event, “Glee The 3D Concert Movie.”
They told us about their recent tour across North America and Europe, the challenges of making a concert documentary in 3D, and how they enjoyed singing and dancing on a large stage in a big venue where they could interact directly with their fans. They also discussed the impact the highly successful show has had on fan’s lives and gave us an update on the upcoming third season of the mega-successful series, Glee.
Q: Were there any songs left out of this movie that you wish had been included?
Darren: We haven’t seen it but I’m sure there are though.
Jenna: There were a lot of different versions of the concert. Sometimes we’d do songs and some nights we maybe wouldn’t be feeling particularly well so we’d take one song out and put another song in so it was constantly growing and changing.
Amber: Towards the end, Jenna was singing “True Colors” and that was so amazing. But I think with that we hadn’t even added that in before we filmed the movie. Right?
Jenna: No, exactly.
Darren: The boys, we did “Friday” toward the beginning of the tour.
Amber: “Single Ladies” which we’ve only done the live version of.
Mark: How did my version of “My Little Teapot” get in there?
Darren: It was great – 90 minute guitar solo.
Ashley: I hope you guys are getting all of this.
Darren: That’s what happens when you have such a huge cast. It’s going to be a jumble of answers.
Q: One of the great things about this movie is we get to see the impact you’ve made on your fans. Do you get any feedback and are there any stories that really resonate with you?
Ashley: One of the great things about this show is the social media – Twitter, people have Facebook, I don’t think anybodies on My Space anymore, no offense to anybody. We get letters and Tweets from fans telling us how each character has touched them in some way, how they changed them in some way. I don’t know about them. I can’t really take the credit. We have really great writers. I think those kids are brave by just watching the show and identifying with it and coming out and being themselves.
Q: How did the experience of performing in a big venue before a large live audience compare to shooting on set?
Darren: Like Amber was saying, there’s this huge fan presence that’s undeniable, but when it’s on social media it isn’t so immediately tangible because it’s inherently disconnected via computer screen or what have you. To experience all these people in real time is a pretty cathartic moment because you have all these people from all over the world that you feel on your phone, but to have them share in your dancing, it’s a very symbiotic thing where they’re celebrating this show with you and we’re celebrating what they’re celebrating. You nailed it. It is an incredible experience and it is different. In a set, it’s closed off. I think crowds are a little more forgiving than your script supervisor.
Jenna: On tour, we hear the crowd and we feed off of that and a great part of our crew is dancing along with us and we appreciate them. They’re amazing. But other than that, it’s usually just a small group of about 20 of us. So it’s just a totally different environment.
Q: When you worked with Gwyneth Paltrow, did you learn any Spanish and what’s your favorite Spanish word?
Chris: I liked the phrase ‘Hasta luego’ because I didn’t know what it meant for the longest time. I had a friend who teaches that taught me a lot of Spanish ironically.
Lea: I took French. My parents are fluent in Spanish. I’m Sephardic which is a Spaniard Jew. They wanted me to take French in school but I couldn’t pick up on anything and I really wished that I had learned Spanish. But I have the Rosetta Stone at home. That will be my Season 3 goal. I’ll be sitting in my trailer learning Spanish and then we can talk.
Q: Lea, have you had a chance to talk to Barbra Streisand?
Lea: Oh yeah. For sure, I did get to meet her. I held it together and then cried when she walked away.
Q: Do you get to come out as yourselves when you’re on stage performing or are you always in character?
Lea: We got to shoot these really fun little backstage things with Ryan Murphy where he was interviewing us in character. I guess some of us on stage, if we really want to embody our characters, we did. I feel like I did a nice blend of Rachel and Lea while I was on stage performing. We are our characters, but at the same time, when we walk off stage we are ourselves.
Darren: It’s hard. I definitely blew it a couple of times. I was in San Francisco making shout outs to my parents. Blaine’s probably never even been to San Francisco. And when we were in Ohio, I guess we should have been really excited but I couldn’t remember what city Dalton is in. I don’t know.
Chris: I had to be in character. I had to be. There’s no way I could have done it. You have to leave yourself at the doorway because there’s no way I could do “Single Ladies” every night. Sometimes you just leave yourself behind.
Q: What’s your advice if you want to pursue a career in singing and dancing?
Darren: Do it!
Lea: Get a class, work hard, practice. Talent doesn’t appear over night. It takes a lot of work and honing your craft, but also don’t give up because people may say you’re not good enough. I had so many teachers in high school and college saying “You’re not going to make it. You’re not. You can’t.” Luckily I had enough people around me who said I could.
Amber: I think it’s also important for kids who know that they want to be performers to find what you are particularly good at and your unique kind of talent. I think that our television show really focuses on each person’s individual talent, whether you’re a singer who can move well or a fantastic dancer who sings well. Try to find what you’re good at and then go for that because so many people in the world right now are craving for uniqueness.
Darren: I would say utilize a lot of the technology that’s available to kids now because unfortunately we live in a country where the facility to be able to perform isn’t as available. I was very blessed with an arts education and it’s not so easy for everybody in parts of our country and elsewhere. There are ways to find things and ways to perform. As silly as it sounds, obviously YouTube is the forefront for a lot of performers we find, myself included. There are ways to meet people and surround yourself with like-minded people who will support you. It’s a smaller world now and I would embrace that to nurture your own love of performing.
Q: For the ladies, if a guy can’t sing to save his life, what’s your advice for him to try to win you over?
Amber: He can’t sing?
Ashley: Tell a joke.
Darren: Buy me something nice.
Q: Jane Lynch commented on how Glee is such an ensemble that a lot of you have days where you come to work and you’re in the scene but you don’t have any lines. When working on the show and on the concert, can you talk about those times when you have to be there for the rest of the cast?
Ashley: You make them laugh when they’re trying to do their lines. But when they have to do a crying scene, when they have to be serious, you make faces. You have to entertain yourself.
Lea: We’re really supportive!
Chris: Thanks a lot!
Amber: Mainly that’s for Chris and Lea.
Ashley: I get to watch what I think are the future’s brightest stars, seriously, and watching them is amazing. So I’m getting a personal performance. When everybody watches it on TV, I’m actually in the room. I’m listening to Broadway’s next biggest stars, and in the movie, our next greatest singers and stuff like that. I’m their biggest fan.
Jenna: We’re also always performing and sometimes to sit back and be in that choir robe and get to relax and listen to Amber Riley sing. That’s the greatest day. Just kick back and enjoy. It’s literally the greatest job in the world.
Darren: That was the greatest part of the tour. I had a lot of down time. The Warblers had time in between the new directions set and I would go off stage every night to watch my favorite numbers. I went out every night. I didn’t miss a single Amber Riley performance of “Ain’t No Way” and I cried every single time. I even tried to hug her once because I put on a hoodie and sat in the audience and the security guys were like ninjas. This is my fault what I’m about to say. I went to go hug her backstage. I was like beelining it towards her and I got tackled by the security guards. The same thing happened with Ashley. Yours was a little more fun.
Ashley: Except I was on stage.
Darren: You were on stage.
Ashley: It’s a long story.
Q: What are you excited about for the third season of Glee?
Ashley: We’re excited to see what’s going to happen.
Lea: I know they’re doing a back to basics season focusing on it being very similar to what we see in Season 1. That’s exciting. The first script was amazing. I absolutely loved it. A lot of songs that have not been on the charts in awhile but were hits from the past. I love doing stuff like that. I think that’s so cool. It’s our senior year so we want to make it great and see what it’s like to be a senior in high school. Don’t they get to skip classes and stuff like that? Senior Ditch Day.
Ashley: Senior Ditch Day. There better be.
Jenna: Unless we get cancelled this year.
Q: Can you talk about the tour? Were the audiences in England different from those in America? Were they more reserved?
Lea: Oh no.
Darren: The afternoon crowd in Manchester blew my mind.
Ashley: Manchester was off the chain.
Lea: They were really excited that we were there, that we had come all the way there to see them. We did a lot of performances in Europe.
Darren: And it wasn’t just England. I think it was because that was the only place we scraped the surface, that and Dublin and a lot of Western Europe went, so we were doing meet and greets with people from Scandinavia, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, so it was a big hub for most of Europe. That was a crazy crowd. I felt it was crazier.
Q: The people behind the show do a great job of keeping Glee in the public conversation during the summer. How is it as actors to be working for a show where there’s so much speculation in the press and online about what’s going to happen with the next season?
Lea: We stay away from it. You wait for your creators to tell you directly what’s happening. We ignore that because that’s not what the show is about. It’s about the work, and as actors, that’s what we look forward to and what’s going to happen. Nothing is set in stone until you open that script and even after that.
Ashley: It’s true. The great thing is that this movie is going to put a lot of things in perspective for people. They’ll get back to what the show is really about. It’s not about gossip. It’s not about drama. It’s about these kids that are connected to each and every one of these characters and our characters have literally grown up with them. We are helping them through adolescence, helping them through high school, helping them through junior high. So I’m hoping that’s what this movie is going to do.
Q: For Darren and Chris, the LGBT community is a big part of your storyline. Can you talk about the part in the movie where you meet Trent, the kid who was very inspired by your story on the show? Is that an example of what you hear every day about people being inspired by what your characters are going through?
Chris: Absolutely. I hope we get to meet the kids that are in the movie. I have some choice words for the kids that did that to him. I hope I never meet them. It’s crazy when you represent such a select community, just the stories that you hear that are heartbreaking and inspiring, and they always thank you so much not realizing that it’s really them who are brave. It’s them who are the strong ones.
Darren: Yeah. I was going to say the same thing. People are always asking us about those stories and it’s mutually inspiring whatever things we’ve given them via our writers. We’re part of something that’s so much greater than just the characters. It’s a greater story and a greater ideal. I think they are much greater than they think they are because it comes right back to us and that goes into every performance. It’s not just a job anymore. It’s like I’ve been given this superhero’s costume that I get to play in and it’s a privilege.
Q: Is there any particular song that you haven’t had a chance to sing yet that you’d like to sing in the upcoming season?
Lea: Honestly, I’ve gotten to do the greatest songs. I’m done. I’m good.
Chris: It depends on what the situation will be in the story because I’ve heard little rumors about what might happen in the season and I’m like oh this song would be perfect for that or that song would be perfect for this. So we’ll see.
Q: Nobody’s going to give away anything?
Darren: We don’t know anything.
Jenna: None of them would be a secret. We just don’t have any. Think about how many songs we’ve covered on the show. Can you think of anything we haven’t done on it?
Ashley: Spice Girls. We haven’t done the Spice Girls.
Darren: That’s true. Put it in the suggestion box.
Lea: Oh, that’s right.
Q: Have you done Meat Loaf? I don’t think I’ve heard him.
Lea: “I Would Do Anything for Love, But I Won’t Do That.”
Darren: He was on the show. He was in The Rocky Horror Episode.
Q: He was on it?
Ashley: Yes, he was.
Lea: Yes, he did one of the songs that he sang in Rocky Horror.
Ashley: You mean like “I Would Do Anything for Love”?
Darren: You know what’s greater than the songs is the context. That’s always the most interesting thing because you hear a song and go oh, really cool, I hope they use it in this way, and then they use it another way. That’s what I’m always more interested in – like the situation and then what it means.
Q: How was it performing on stage with the camera moving around you and being 60 feet up in the air in 3D?
Ashley: I think people think that the cameras followed us the whole entire time but we were on tour and they didn’t. They were only with us for two days. I didn’t feel it was any different than filming on Glee. Now the 3D part…
Amber: I cannot wait to see Harry Shum.
Lea: One thing, when we were back stage, I kept seeing this woman who was walking backwards back stage. I was wondering why is this woman walking back stage. Every time I would walk towards her, she’d start walking backwards in front of me. I’m thinking this woman has lost her mind. And then, I realized she had a camera in front of her and she was videotaping me walking. So you might see my face (gives us a strange expression) as I walk by as I’m walking back stage because I’m looking at this lady who’s walking backwards. It was very bizarre.
Ashley: They were like ninjas. They had cameras everywhere.
Darren: I think I did an interview en route to the bathroom once and it was this very surprised thing. I was supposed to be Blaine but I think I was just Darren trying to get to the bathroom.
Ashley: Maybe Blaine had to pee.
Q: You’re on Broadway soon in “How to Succeed.”
Darren: Yeah, next couple months.
Q: What made you want to do that?
Darren: I wish it was my choice. (laughs) No, I was asked and it was a very touching proposal, and of course, I said yes. I’ve made a semi-decent career out of following in Daniel Radcliffe’s footsteps.
“Glee The 3D Concert Movie” opens in theaters on August 12th.