Cory Monteith in 'McCanick' (Photo courtesy of Bleiberg Entertainment)
The world of entertainment was rocked over the weekend after Cory Monteith – who played Finn Hudson on the hit television series "Glee" – was found dead in a motel room in Vancouver on Saturday at the age of 31. Now the filmmaker who directed the late Monteith in his final film role has stepped forward, saying the actor was both looking back to troubled times and looking forward to life after "Glee" while working on the project.
In the upcoming crime drama "McCanick," Monteith plays Simon Weeks, a violent and drug-addicted street hustler, opposite David Morse ("Treme," "Drive Angry") as Eugene "Mack" McCanick — a detective on his trail.
Waller also shared his memories of Monteith with the L.A. Times, admitting he was initially reluctant to cast tall, handsome Monteith in the role, but the actor's determination led him to re-think the character.
"In my mind, I was envisioning a teeny little drug guy [for Weeks], but Cory Monteith is this tall, strapping man," Waller said Sunday after news had spread of Monteith's untimely death. "But when I met with him, he wanted to do it so badly," he said of the actor who had publicly admitted to having his own problems with substance abuse. "He was very vocal about his past, and said he wanted to tap into things from his youth that he hadn’t been able to use as an actor yet."
"He didn't say it was a cathartic experience, but you could sense it," Waller added.
"McCanick" was shot on location in Philadelphia. Monteith would fly in from Los Angeles on off days from "Glee" to film his scenes. According to Waller, Monteith was eager to expand his creative horizons and build a future for when "Glee" ended its run, especially given the fact he was significantly older than his character — and among the oldest cast members on the show.
"He was like, 'I know I can’t be on that show forever, so I’m starting to prep myself for when it's not on anymore,'" Waller said. "With 'McCanick,' he was starting that trajectory — like, 'Let me nip this in the bud right now.'"
Monteith's early struggles with drug addiction informed his performance, but he was still fighting his demons in recent months. Waller said the last time he saw Monteith was when he showed the actor a rough cut of "McCanick," not long after Cory was released from a rehab facility. According to Waller, Monteith looked fit, and while he shied away from specifics, he admitted that he'd been through a period that was "kind of rough" but life was "looking good now."
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"McCanick" is the second of two movies Monteith shot during downtime from "Glee" that are awaiting release. In the comedy-drama "All The Wrong Reasons," which also features Kevin Zeger, Emily Hampshire, and Karine Vanasse, the actor played the manager of a department store who is tempted to cheat on his wife by one of his employees. Neither film currently has a release date, and Waller admits he's of two minds about "McCanick"'s future, especially since the film doesn't yet have a distributor.
"It's tricky, because you know there's a group of people that want to see the movie because it’s his last film — but by no means does anybody want to exploit the tragedy," Waller confided. "I want people to see the movie, because Cory deserves that. People would ultimately see that he had a lot more to offer artistically, and it's a shame that this happened because now he can't explore that."
Watch OMG! Insider's 'A Look at Cory Monteith's Final Projects:'
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