In just a few days, McKinley High School will be shutting its doors for good. In anticipation of Glee’s series finale this week, Lea Michele, Chris Colfer, and the rest of the cast took part in a fun Q&A and screening at PaleyFest in Hollywood on Friday, Mar. 13. They recalled their favorite memories, paid tribute to their late friend and costar Cory Monteith, and more.
Here’s 20 behind-the-scenes facts you may not have known about the New Directioners:
1. President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are Gleeks! “They were fans,” Amber Riley said. “The First Lady said she was watching it with the kids [Malia and Natasha].
2. Michele and Jenna Ushkowitz are by far the most emotional! “When you and Jenna cry together it’s really funny,” Riley told Michele.
3. Colfer had his first drink at Kevin McHale’s apartment. Riley and Ushkowitz joined too!
4. The Glee pilot was Darren Criss‘ first audition ever, but he didn’t get the role he initially tried out for. He kept tight-lipped on details, but was brought in later to play Blaine Anderson.
5. Everyone’s favorite guest star? Kristin Chenoweth! “She always brought gifts,” Riley said of the Broadway vet, who played Will Schuester’s old friend April Rhodes.
6. The ladies still gush over Sam Evans’ big lips! “I never thought it was a thing, and then they wrote that song “Trouty Mouth,” Chord Overstreet said. “Girls love ’em.”
7. The double-wedding episode this year between Kurt Hummel (Colfer) and Blaine (Criss), and Santana Lopez (Naya Rivera) and Brittany S. Pierce (Heather Morris) was the worst to shoot because of the chilly weather. “Everyone got sick,” Jane Lynch said.
8. Michele’s favorite line ever was one she said to Monteith’s character, Finn Hudson. “I’m like Tinkerbell Finn,” she recited. “I need applause to live.”
9. Monteith (who died in July 2013 at age 31) was always in their thoughts while filming. “The memories are endless. My favorite thing about Cory is that we always had accidental fun together,” Colfer said. “He was a very, very special guy.”
10. Puck really is a bad boy! Mark Salling lied in his audition and said he was 19 years old when he was really 26.
11. Guest star Kate Hudson really is that stunning. “Kate at 6 a.m. in the morning right out of bed is the most gorgeous thing you’ll ever see in the entire world. It’s crazy,” Michele gushed. “She’s amazing and I’m so grateful the show really brought us together. She’s become like family to me.” (Hudson helped Michele following Monteith’s tragic overdose, even inviting her to stay at her home.)
12. Creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk were generous when it came time to taking props from set. “I took a lot of things. I’ve been saying to everyone — I’m glad they think I only took one,” Michele, who took Finn’s football jersey home, said. “I took Rachel’s penny loafers and knee socks.”
13. Michele’s favorite song to cover was Journey’s “Faithfully,” which she belted out with Monteith in the show’s season one finale.
14. Riley had a rough time when the show first started. “I was so lost. I didn’t know what a call sheet was. I kept walking into people’s trailers,” she said, joking. “I kept looking into the camera. I don’t know how I kept this job for six years.”
15. Salling and Overstreet would play ping pong between takes. “A lot of these relationships are going to go on,” Salling told Us, teasing that he would beat Overstreet often. “I’m going to know a lot of these people for the rest of my life.”
16. As for Salling’s favorite song? “I’d say ‘Sweet Caroline.’ I didn’t think that people would react the way that they did,” Salling explained to Us. “And my mom’s favorite artist was Neil Diamond, always has been.”
17. Colfer was initially terrified to write the episode “Old Dog, New Tricks” in season 5. “When they first approached me I said, absolutely not. I’m not putting words into my costars’ mouths,” he said. “There was a lot of pressure.”
18. Michele was an absolute “mess” during the last week of filming before the series wrapped. “The train was going 100 miles per hour and then it just stopped,” she recalled. “I cried the whole week. I was a mess.”
19. Criss wrote the song “This Time” for the series finale, which Michele will be singing. “I basically wrote a love note to the entire experience,” he said. “Having Lea sing it to me is one of the most special moments of my career.”
20. It was a memorable song for Michele, too. “Darren gave me the greatest gift. Honestly. That was the day I fell to my knees and cried. I literally had to call my mother to come [get me],” she said. “It’s so special, it was the most amazing memory.”
Glee premiered in 2009 and ran for six seasons. Its two-hour series finale airs Friday, Mar. 20 at 8 p.m. EST on FOX.
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