What You Never Knew About Cory Monteith

Few things bring more pain than the tragic end of a promising life. Cory Monteith's death in July 2013 was one such tragedy. The 31-year-old actor, whose crowning achievement as Finn Hudson on the hit musical series "Glee" brought him thundering success, was haunted by substance use for the majority of his life. Monteith had entered rehab for treatment, but he ultimately died after a reported heroin overdose, per The New York Times. But behind the wall of struggle and success, Monteith was just a regular guy. "Being a celebrity is not my vocation," he once said in an interview with Maclean's. "I like to stay home, hang out with my friends, play video games, burp and eat pizza."

Born in Calgary, Canada, Monteith turned to acting by sheer chance — bless our luck! — after a spate of odd jobs (via CBC). His longtime acting coach, Andrew McIlroy, recalled how after a rehab stint, Monteith had come to his studio "just looking for a place to call a home ... He was really special to work with." With over 30 acting credits and numerous award nominations, Monteith was only just getting started: "Cory had a lot of unfulfilled dreams," Ryan Murphy, the co-creator of "Glee," recalled at a memorial for the actor (via Entertainment Weekly). 

Though his time among us was brief, Monteith lived a dynamic life worth remembering. Here are some snapshots about the man he was. 

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

In his final interview, Cory Monteith said he was happy

Cory Monteith's unexpected death in 2013 sent shockwaves of intense grief across the television industry, his fanbase, and the public. To lose a star as young as 31 and on his way to charting higher successes seemed to be a tragedy too sad to digest. What came as a gut punch amid all this was the discovery that Monteith had admitted to being "happy" during his final days. In what is believed to be his final interview — and only a month before his passing — Monteith told E! News on the Chrysalis Ball red carpet in June 2013, "I'm just happy to be on the show, I'm really, really happy to be coming back. It's really good." 

As reported by Deadline, in the months preceding his death, Monteith had taken a break from "Glee" and checked himself into rehab for help with substance addiction, a vice he had battled since being a teenager. He was expected to make a return as Finn Hudson — one of the show's central characters — following his rehab stint. However, just weeks later, Monteith reportedly died of an accidental drug overdose at a hotel in Vancouver (via NBC News). Reports later showed that his final days were spent among friends. E! News noted that in his last week, "the actor grabbed dinner with his manager," and the night before his death, was out partying with a group of buddies. 

The Glee star was involved with drugs and alcohol by 13

Cory Monteith was hardly secretive about his troubled childhood, often opening up in press appearances about his lifelong struggle with substance use. The late star had begun taking stimulants as early as age13. According to an interview Monteith's mother, Ann McGregor, gave following his death, he was seemingly "advanced" for his age as a child, and often hung with older kids. "There was this disconnect," McGregor told People, revealing that she took her son to rehab twice during his teens — both when he was 15 and 19. 

In an interview with GQ, Monteith detailed that his high school years in Victoria, Canada were "this kind of renegade teenage lifestyle ... Skipping school. Drinking. All that kind of crap." Speaking on his past reckless behavior, the actor told Parade, "I was out of control," adding that his drug use included "anything and everything" he could lay his hands on. He had reportedly switched schools a total of 12 times, before dropping out altogether at 16. Multiple stints in rehab later, the turning point came when Monteith was "done fighting [himself]" and went clean, focusing on his career instead. Unfortunately, as McGregor told People, Monteith relapsed and began using again in December 2012, months before his death. "Drugs were his way of checking out," she said. 

Cory Monteith was very close to his mom

One of Cory Monteith's biggest shares of affection was reserved for his mother, Ann McGregor. "He never missed my birthday," she told People in 2018, five years after her son's death. Monteith, who was super close to her, reportedly always made time for McGregor, even if that meant turning up at her front door for surprise visits. "We used to go everywhere together ... We had a favorite restaurant where we'd share fish and chips," McGregor recalled. She had last met with Monteith just two days before he passed, she revealed on ABC

According to Parade, Monteith's parents divorced when he was only 7. McGregor reportedly raised him as a single mother in Victoria, Canada. When he fell into drugs, she intervened and arranged for him professional help. "He tried to keep everything from me, because he loved me and wanted to protect me," McGregor told People. On ABC, she recounted the first time Monteith overdosed, saying she had the feeling even then that she was "not going to have him [her] entire life." After the incident, she said they took a drive and "all we did was stare into his eyes and hug him and look at him."  

He had discussed marriage with girlfriend Lea Michele

For fans of the long-running series "Glee," a major point of mania was the overlap between the on-screen and real-life relationship of lead actors Cory Monteith and Lea Michele. Though their romance was confirmed much later, the duo had secretly dated and broken up once before at the start of the Fox show in 2009. At the time, "no one really caught on" with their backstage fling, Michele told Elle. By 2011, the two officially began dating again and in 2012, went public with their relationship at an awards show, according to HuffPost

Spotted at events and on vacations together, Monteith and Michele were evidently in love. They were serious about each other, with reports surfacing that the duo was mulling over moving in together (via Page Six). Before any such plans could materialize, however, their romance was cut short with Monteith's death in 2013. Following the tragedy, a report by People claimed the pair had allegedly talked about marriage, yet there was no confirmation of an engagement. Michele, who has frequently reminisced about the actor, confirmed that they indeed thought about their future. In 2014, she told Glamour, "We talked about children and what we would look like when we grew old ... We were it."

Acting wasn't really Monteith's dream

Though the late 31-year-old built an impressive acting resume during his 10-year stint in film and television, he didn't always set out to be an actor. Even so, when asked what his dream job was, Cory Monteith told Seventeen, "Being an airline pilot." While involved with substance use from an early age, Monteith self-professedly struggled to find an identity throughout his youth. "I had no idea who I was, I had no idea where I was going," he told CBC's George Stroumboulopoulos in 2011. At 19, following his second stint in rehab, Monteith decided to pick up the pieces and give his life direction.

Per Parade, he moved to Nanaimo, Canada and began his career working as a roofer. Brief jobs at Walmart and 7-Eleven also figured among his work experiences, according to GQ. Acting happened by chance, apparently through a grapevine of friends. "I had nothing else going on, so I kind of threw myself into it," Monteith told Boston Herald of his early acting days. After his passing, Monteith's acting coach Andrew McIlroy recalled, "He came to the studio and sat in on a class, and he recognized some of the things that I was saying in class as some of the same expressions used in recovery." Remembering Monteith as having natural talent, McIlroy revealed he grew so passionate about acting that "he swept the studio to pay for his classes."

His audition tape for Glee involved him banging utensils

Not many people can boast of possessing superior Tupperware-banging skills. But Cory Monteith did, and he did so remarkably that this peculiar competence actually landed him his role on "Glee." By his own admission, Monteith had "never been afraid of auditioning for jobs." He was training as an actor in Canada when his representative in Los Angeles put forth his name for a role on the musical-comedy drama, according to Maclean's. However, Monteith's musical prowess didn't extend beyond drumming, which he grew up playing, so his manager suggested he audition with what he knew. 

With an assortment of "coffee mugs, Tupperware, and unsharpened pencils," as Monteith recalled on "The Ellen Show," he drummed his way into the "Glee" auditions. He even recreated his quirky audition tape on the talk show, drumming out "Can't Fight This Feeling" by REO Speedwagon. (In character, Monteith later sang this track on "Glee" as well.) In his eulogy for Monteith, Ryan Murphy, who co-created the hit show, fondly recalled how the actor's Tupperware audition gave way to Monteith becoming a "great" singer and dancer (per People). "He gave both his heart, and that is what Cory was to me — all heart," Murphy said.

Monteith further stated on "The Ellen Show" that at the audition in Los Angeles, he sang Billy Joel's "Honesty." "I was so nervous, but you just got to swallow and go for it." He definitely did — and the rest is history.

Cory Monteith wasn't a singer before joining Glee

Besides being an actor, Cory Monteith is remembered as a talented singer and dancer. So it would surprise many to know that the late star didn't particularly count any of those profiles among his skill set prior to his breakout role in "Glee." "I wouldn't even sing karaoke with my friends at a bar," Monteith revealed to Boston Herald. So, how did he then play the high-school-football-jock-turned-stage-performer on the show with such conviction? He worked hard. According to the Chicago Tribune, Monteith's "Glee" co-star, Matthew Morrison, once said that Monteith was given the "most improved" superlative. "He wasn't a singer. Definitely wasn't a dancer. To see where he's come, I feel like such a proud teacher ... or almost like a proud parent."

Together with eminent vocal coach Roger Love, who worked with the show's cast, Monteith honed his latent singing talents — something Love testified to in a Facebook video. Monteith sang several memorable renditions on "Glee," winning high praise from Rolling Stone, which called him "the glue of the musical show." So adeptly did he master the musical craft that he even scored a solo deal with Columbia Records. "I could see myself making records but it has to be right, it has to be organic," he told Parade. Monteith was also working on his debut album with Bonnie Dune, an indie band he was part of, around the time of his death (per Teen Vogue). 

Before his death, he reunited with his estranged father

A near-lifelong stumbling block for Cory Monteith was the complicated relationship he shared with his estranged father. An army man, his father Joe Monteith remained, for the most part, absent from his life (per People). But prior to his early death in 2013, the "McCanick" actor appeared to have received some semblance of closure on the matter by reuniting with his long-lost parent. 

Monteith told Parade that he hadn't united with his father in 17 years, only having spoken to him a few times in the intervening period. In 2009, the two properly met after Joe reached him on Facebook. "I couldn't shut the door, so I got on a plane," the actor said, recalling the emotional moment when they finally saw each other. "At some point, you realize your parents are human. They make the best decisions they can with the options available to them." 

In 2013, Monteith's father told People that his bitter divorce from wife Ann McGregor had resulted in him being kept away from his son against his wishes. He was also not invited for Monteith's cremation. Appearing on ABC, McGregor attributed part of her late son's struggle with identity in his teens to the fact that "he really wanted a relationship with his father." She also explained that Joe's exclusion from Monteith's memorial was due to his abandonment of the family. 

Cory Monteith was a true blue romantic

Cory Monteith made his way into the hearts of girls the world over with his swooning portrayal as Finn Hudson on "Glee." So it turns out, he was every bit the romantic in real life as we had imagined. Months into dating Monteith, Lea Michele had gushed about how he made her "feel like the luckiest girl in the world." She told Marie Claire in 2012, "I don't even remember a time when he wasn't my boyfriend."

On his part, Monteith too painted a rosy image of himself forever aspiring to be the ideal partner. "When I care about someone I like to make big, romantic gestures," he told Girl.com.au. Alluding to what his character in the 2011 film "Monte Carlo" did, he added, "I think every girl wants their boyfriend to chase them all the way to Paris after they have a fight ... I really hope that I get to be that kind of guy one day." He evidently was, given the glorious relationship he shared with Michele. Following a trip the lovebirds took to New York, a source told Us Weekly, "Cory is definitely having a positive effect on Lea. She's much less miserable these days." 

He specially arranged to meet a sick fan

With multiple film and television credits, Cory Monteith had amassed a legion of faithful fans across the globe. Multiple fan pages were dedicated to the Canadian heartthrob (via Variety), testament to his short-lived but pronounced popularity, which in part came from how the 31-year-old reciprocated the love he got. His "Glee" castmate Jane Lynch, remembered Monteith as a man with "one of the biggest hearts," recalling how he once flew across the country to meet a sick fan who expressed a final wish to meet him (via PopSugar). 

Monteith's friend Brook Lander Shurtz, accounting for the late star's kindness, told E! News how Monteith reached out to the terminally ill fan from Connecticut and "made arrangements when he was on the East Coast to meet up with her and made her day." Shurtz described his friend as a "kind, selfless, genuine person that gave." Monteith's former girlfriend Lea Michele once told GQ that the actor "would go say hi to all the fans" — to which he had plenty — after the show every night. In fact, it is believed that Monteith interacting with a fan is one of the last videos of him to exist (per Global News). 

The actor supposedly was the inspiration behind a Taylor Swift song

Have you really made it if Taylor Swift hasn't written a song about you? It's an exclusive club, of which "Glee" actor Cory Monteith is apparently a part. In 2010, the Canadian was briefly linked to the singer-songwriter. The rumor mill worked in overdrive after Monteith and Swift were spotted out and about for a night of bowling with a group of friends in Los Angeles that year, E! News reported. Their outing came following a whirlwind of whispers that the two had supposedly gone on dates together, making the pair a possible item. However, another report by the outlet stated, quoting sources, that the duo were strictly "just friends."

Daily Mail noted that Monteith and Swift were keeping their so-called romance hush-hush due to the latter's "protective" mother who urged her to put her career before boys. In an interview, Monteith expressly remained tight-lipped when asked about dating Swift, saying, "Ah, I'm not gonna answer that!" Though the relationship was seemingly never confirmed (nor denied) by either party, a track on Swift's 2010 album "Speak Now" was purportedly about Monteith. Rolling Stone suggests that Monteith was the inspiration behind "Mine." Swift only revealed that the song was based on "a situation where a guy that I just barely knew put his arm around me by the water, and I saw the entire relationship flash before my eyes" (via MTV). 

Cory Monteith was good friends with co-star Matthew Morrison

The "Glee" script may have called for a student-teacher relationship between the two actors, but Cory Monteith and Matthew Morrison were more than that. The fellow gleeks were apparently like "brothers," as Morrison stated following Monteith's untimely death in 2013 (via E! News). Known as Will Schuester, or Mr. Schue, Morrison played the affable director of the glee club at the fictional William McKinley High School on the TV show. The bond he shared with Monteith's Finn Hudson was particularly special, so much so that among fan clubs, the pair was named "Hudster." Off-screen too, Morrison was closest to Monteith out of all the cast members, the 43-year-old told Hollywood Life.

Days after Monteith's passing, Morrison delivered an emotional tribute to his co-star from the stage at a Broadway show in Manhattan, telling the audience that the performance was in "Cory's honor" (per The New York Times). In the years after Monteith's passing, Morrison has never stopped expressing how much he misses him, also telling Metro how the tragedy "taught [him] about the business and the nature of fame." In one of many heartfelt tributes to the late star since, Morrison wrote on Instagram in 2019, "I love my brother, Cory Monteith. I love keeping his memory alive, and his bright light shining. He inspired so many, including myself."