It's been a month and two days since Glee actor Cory Monteith died suddenly at the age of 31, but for his costars and show creator Ryan Murphy, the tragedy is as fresh as ever -- in part because they're having to relive it through the death of his character, Finn Hudson. On Thursday, Aug. 15, Murphy spoke to Deadline about the upcoming tribute episode in Monteith's memory and how difficult it has been for the cast and crew to go back to work.
"There were a lot of things that we had to decide [for the memorial episode]," the Emmy-winning director explained. One of the biggest questions, of course, was how Monteith would be written out. "At one point, we were going to have his character die after an accidental drug overdose -- that was something we had considered. But we have decided that we're not going to have him pass from that."
In fact, Murphy tells Deadline that the cause of death might never be revealed. He wants the tribute episode to be a "celebration of that character's life" -- a look at how Finn lived, rather than how he died. "That might be weird for some people," he says, "but it felt really exploitative to do it any other way."
Murphy notes that the late actor's costars -- including girlfriend Lea Michele -- have been busy over the last couple of weeks with the first two episodes of the season, which he describes as "fun and optimistic." But it hasn't been easy to go back to work without Monteith.
"The cast and crew have had solace in being together," he says. "There's been tears on set. It's been hard for a lot of people. But the really difficult thing is coming. We start shooting the memorial episode this week. We're just now finishing it, and at the end of the week we'll send it to [the studio 20th Century Fox Television] to get their approvals."
"I think it turned out to be a lovely tribute, and it's a very heartfelt look at how young people grieve," he adds. "After that, we're going to take two weeks or three weeks down to get our heads together because it's been a really hard thing to write. We loved Cory and we loved Finn and it feels like a huge loss and a huge heartache not to have either of them around."