Glee star Cory Monteith's death will be a blow to young fans all over the world
Cory Monteith's character in Glee, Finn Hudson, was easy to identify with, but the star couldn't live up to his fans' expectations.
In Glee, the incredibly popular high-school drama with tunes, Cory Monteith played Finn Hudson. Finn was a popular jock who all the girls were in love with and who all the boys wanted to be. But Finn wasn’t some monosyllabic stud. Sympathetically played by Monteith, Finn was a thoughtful, kind soul, never disparaging of the high school geeks who provided the beating heart of the show. He fell in love with the talented, neurotic Rachel (played by real-life girlfriend Lea Michele), he protected Kurt from homophobic bullying, he joined Mr Schuester’s glee club even though he had two left feet, and learned that there was more to life than the playing field and the cheerleader circuit.
Monteith’s death at the age of 31 will be a blow to young fans all over the world. Finn was easy to identify with, a good guy whose unswerving ability to cock things up made him human. In real life, Monteith was unable to live up to his fans’ expectations. Earlier this year, at the end of March, he checked himself in to a clinic for substance addiction, and the treatment was completed a month later, but the damage had been done many years before. During a difficult adolescence in Victoria, British Columbia, he had turned to drugs and alcohol, stealing money to fund his habits.
By the time he landed the role of Finn in 2009, this seemed to be behind him and in 2011 he spoke movingly and eloquently about his addictions. Then aged 27, he was considerably older than the most of the rest of the cast (Mark Salling who played Puck was the same age as Monteith) and it was clear that he knew his own mind. However, when I interviewed the Glee stars for their 2011 tour he was the only actor I was denied access to, and I imagined, suspiciously, that Monteith was a frank-talking adult who had seen life from both sides. In other words, a publicists’s nightmare.
Monteith will no doubt end up in that dubious gallery of young stars whose private lives failed to match their wholesome public image. From Judy Garland to Jack Wild and Corey Haim, it’s clear that fame can have a corrosive effect, particularly when the weight of expectation is upon you. The question is how these vulnerable people can be protected and how their daily pressures can be eased. It is probably an impossible task. Monteith is now dead, but tragically he won’t be the last casualty of a demanding, unforgiving industry.