Glee: The 3D Concert Movie features the popular TV show's cast singing familiar tunes but in 3D and on the big screen, because seeing them on the small screen in 2D just isn't enough for some Gleeks. And with the recent news that many of familiar faces won't be returning after this season's over (it is, after all, a show about high school students and they can't stay seniors for more than a year), the cast believes the timing of the movie's release is perfect in order to get back to what the show's really all about.
At the LA press conference for the 20th Century Fox film, Jenna Ushkowitz talked about all the rumors and speculation swirling around who will and who won't be back. "You kind of stay away from it. You wait for your creators to tell you directly what’s happening, and we kind of ignore that because that’s not what this show’s about. It’s about the work, and as actors that’s what we look forward to, is what’s going to happen. Nothing is set in stone until you open that script, and even after that things get cut."
Amber Riley added, "I think that the great thing is that this movie is going to put a lot of things in perspective for people, and 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 literally have 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 that’s what this movie is going to do."
Lea Michele, Mark Salling, Chris Colfer, Ashley Fink, Darren Criss, Amber Riley, and Jenna Ushkowitz Glee: The 3D Concert Movie Press Conference
Are there two versions of the film with additional songs?
Mark Salling: "We haven’t seen it."
Darren Criss: "I’m sure there are though."
Lea Michele: "There was a lot of different versions of the concert. Sometimes we do songs and some nights we maybe weren’t feeling particularly well, so we’d take one song and put another song in. It’s constantly changing."
Ashley Fink: "Towards the end, Jenna was singing 'True Colors' and that was so amazing but we didn’t even have that in before we filmed the movie, right?"
Amber Riley: "No, it was after. It was in Ireland. It was beautiful."
Ashley Fink: "Yeah, it was."
Darren Criss: "The boys, we did 'Friday' at the beginning of the tour. Something tells me that didn’t make it."
Mark Salling: "As long as my version of 'I’m a Little Teapot' got in there."
Do you get to see the impact you've had on fans?
Amber Riley: "In many ways we see it. One of the great things about this show is social media, Twitter, Facebook. I don’t thing anybody’s on MySpace anymore, no offense. But 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 that. I can’t really take the credit. We have really great writers. I think those kids are just brave just by watching the show and identifying with it and coming out and being themselves."
You usually shoot just on the set with a crew in front of you. Some of you have theater experience with Broadway, so what is your reaction to the concert crowds?
Darren Criss: "To ride off of what Amber was saying, there’s a huge fan presence that’s undeniable but when it is on social media, it isn’t as immediately tangible because it’s inherently disconnected via a 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 cheering and 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 because in a set it’s closed off. I think the crowd’s a little more forgiving than your script supervisor."
Jenna Ushkowitz: "It’s instant gratification, basically. That’s what it is. We definitely feed off of that. Gratefully, our crew is dancing along with us, and they’re amazing, but other than that it’s usually just a smaller group of about 20 of us. It’s just a totally different vibe."
You’re on stage in character. Do you get to come out as yourselves on stage or are you always in character.
Lea Michele: "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 they wanted to really embody their characters, they did. I feel like I did a nice blend of Rachel and of Lea while I was on stage performing, but we are in our characters. At the same time, when we walk on stage, we’re ourselves."
Darren Criss: "It was hard. I definitely blew it a couple times. Up in San Francisco making shout outs to my parents. Blaine’s probably never even been to San Francisco. When we were in Ohio we should’ve been really excited, but I couldn’t tell you what city Dalton is in."
Chris Colfer: "I had to be. I had to be in character. You have to just leave yourself at the door sometimes because there was no way I could do 'Single Ladies' every night. Leave yourself behind. Kurt takes over."
What’s your advice if you want to get involved in singing and dancing?
Darren Criss: "Do it."
Jenna Ushkowitz: "Take a class, work hard, practice. It doesn’t appear overnight - talent. It takes a lot of work and honing your craft, but also don’t give up. 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 can’t, you can’t.' Luckily I had enough people around me who said I could."
Lea Michele: "And I think it’s also important for kids who know that they want to be performers to find really what you are particularly good at, your unique 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. Find what you’re good at and then go for that. People in the world right now are so craving for people’s uniqueness."
Darren Criss: "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. Obviously, YouTube is the forefront for a lot of the performers we find, myself included. There are ways to meet people and surround yourself with likeminded people who will support you. It’s a smaller world now and I would embrace that to nurture your own love of performing."
A lot of you come to work and you’re in the scene but you don’t have any lines. So when you're working on the show and on the concert, could each of you talk about those times when you just have to be there for the rest of the cast?
Amber Riley: "Oh man, you make them laugh while they’re trying to do their lines. Like when they have to do a crying scene, and they have to be serious, you make faces. You have to entertain yourself, you know? Mainly, that’s for Chris and Lea. 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. What everybody watches on TV, I’m actually in the room, so I’m listening to Broadway’s next biggest stars, and the movies, our next great singers, and stuff like that, so I’m their biggest fan."
Lea Michele: "And we’re also always performing, and sometimes to sit back and be in that choir room and just get to relax and watch Amber Riley sing, I’m like, 'This is the greatest day, I can just kick back.' This job is great. I literally have the greatest job in the world."
Darren Criss: "That was a great part of the tour. I got a lot of downtime. The Warblers had time in between the New Directions set and I would go offstage 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'. I cried every time."
Amber Riley: "I saw him every time. It’s true."
Darren Criss: "I even tried to hug her once, except I put on a hoodie and sat in the audience, and the security guys were like ninjas. This is my fault, but when I went to go hug her backstage, bee-lining it towards her, and I just got yanked by some guy. Same thing happened to Ashley. [She] was on, so she got tackled onstage."
You just performed in England. Do you find that the audiences there were different than they were, touring in America?
Darren Criss: "Afternoon crowd in Manchester blew my mind."
Ashley Fink: "Man, Manchester was off the chain."
Lea Michele: "I think that was because they were really excited that we were there, that we’ve come all the way there to see them. We did a lot of performances in Europe."
What are you excited about in the third season?
Amber Riley: "Everything. We’re excited to see what’s going to happen."
Lea Michele: "I know that they’re really doing a back-to-basics season, really focusing on it being very similar to a Glee season 1. That’s so exciting; the first script was amazing. I absolutely love it, a lot of songs that have not been on the charts for a while but were hits in the past, and I love doing stuff like that. I think that that’s so cool. It’s some of 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 class and stuff like that?"
Amber Riley: "Senior ditch day."
Ashley Fink: "Yeah, senior ditch day. There better be."
Is this season going to be the last season?
Lea Michele: "Of the television show? That’s up to Fox, unless we get cancelled this year."
For Darren and Chris, the LGBT community is of course a big part of the storyline, and the part in the movie where we meet the kid Trent who was very inspired by your story on the show, can you talk about that? Is that an example of what you hear every day, about people being impacted by your characters?
Chris Colfer: "Yeah, absolutely. I hope we get to meet the kids that are in the movie, and I have some choice words, the kids that did that to him. I hope I never meet them. But yeah, it’s crazy when you represent such a select community, just the stories that you hear that are heartbreaking, inspiring, and they always thank you so much, not realizing that it’s really them who are brave and it’s them who are the strong ones."
Darren Criss: "I was going to say the same thing. It’s people who are always asking us about those stories, and it’s mutually inspiring, whatever things that 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, and 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 and I get to play it, and it’s a privilege."
Is there any particular song that you haven’t had a chance to sing yet that you’d like to sing, either in the next season or in an upcoming season, that might surprise us?
Lea Michele: "Honestly, I’ve gotten to do the greatest songs. I’m done. I’m good."
Chris Colfer: "It depends on what the situation will be in the story, because I’ve heard little rumors about what might happen this 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."
So nobody’s going to give away anything.
Darren Criss: "Well, we don’t know. We don’t know anything!"
Lea Michele: "None of them would be a secret. They aren’t our decisions. We just don’t really have any. Think about how many songs we’ve covered on the show, can you think of anything we haven’t done on the show? The Spice Girls!"
Have you done Meat Loaf?
Ashley Fink: "Oh, I would do anything for love, but I won’t do that."
Lea Michele: "He was on the show! Yes, we did. He wanted the songs that he sang in Rocky Horror."
Performing on stage for thousands of people while you are making a movie, and being aware of the cameras, has that affected you at all? Any worries or concerns about being 60 ft. high?
Amber Riley: "Yes. I think people think that the cameras followed us the whole entire time we were on tour, and they didn’t. They only were with us for two days. It was no different than filming on Glee. Now, the 3D part, uh… yes."
Lea Michele: "There are concerns."
Mark Salling: "You’ll see my crow’s feet like you’ve never seen them before."
Lea Michele: "One day when we were backstage I kept seeing this woman who was walking backwards backstage. I was like, 'Why is this woman walking backstage?' Every time I would walk towards her, she’d start walking backwards in front of me! I was like, 'This woman, I think, has lost her mind. What is going on?' And then I realized she had a camera on the front of her and she was videotaping me walking, so you might see my face at one point, [looking completely puzzled] as I’m walking backstage. It’s because I’m looking at this lady who was walking backwards...it was very bizarre."
Ashley Fink: "They were ninjas. There were cameras everywhere."
Darren Criss: "I think I did an interview en route to the bathroom once, so it was a very surprise thing. I was supposed to be Blaine, but I think I was just Darren trying to get to the bathroom."
Did you ask to be in the Broadway play How to Succeed?
Darren Criss: "I wish it was my choice! 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 Daniel Radcliffe’s footsteps."