Do we? Do we really? Frustrated, we flap our hands and demand honest-to-God proof. "Entertain us!" we shout.
"That's what I do for a living," she says firmly. "Now we just get to have coffee."
"No. You have to entertain us!"
"It's not going to happen. I've done a very good job of entertaining you for the past hour. You're not going to ask me again, are you? Oh, give me a break."
We can't. We're tired of hearing how she grew up watching Saved by the Bell, Party of Five and Melrose Place and how she pays her rent three weeks in advance.
"OK," she says finally. "I can turn my tongue into a bathtub."
And with that, she sticks out her tongue, pink and moist, and indeed does turn it into a bathtub, a deep one at that, by somehow flattening it out, then curling the edges way up at right angles. Then she frowns and says, "Oh, you're grossed out!" But truly that's not the case. Mainly, we find the display baffling and don't know what to think of it.
A while later, we stand up to leave, with one last request for Michele. "Please don't tell the others about any of the questions asked of you here today," we say. She promises she won't. But we are in high school territory now, and in high school, as everyone knows, promises are made to be broken, often with hurtful, painful results.
Cory Monteith pushes open the doors of the Guitar Center on Sunset. Though Canadian, he looks entirely all-American, tall, enthusiastic, with an open smile and easygoing brown eyes; in a crowd of a thousand good-looking guys trying out for a Gap ad, he would be one of them. Seconds later, he does something that seems to set him apart and say a lot about him that's good and honest and pure. Intent on testing out some drums, he instantly offers the clerk his driver's license as surety against loss, theft, destruction, whatever. The clerk refuses, but the point is, Monteith offered. And then he plays, in a style that is breezy but determined.
Out on Sunset again, he gets into his souped-up Honda Civic, with dark-tinted windows, and zooms off alarmingly fast, toward his favorite West Hollywood breakfast nook. At this point, we know only a few things about Monteith. As Finn on Glee, he's a jock who stands up to his snorting, eyeball-rolling football teammates in order to join the Glee club, has a problem with sexual suddenness and is none too bright. What first got Monteith noticed for the job was a mailed-in audition tape that consisted of him playing a goofy drum solo on some overturned Tupperware containers. He is 27 and the oldest of the Glee kids. He grew up in Victoria, British Columbia, where he was raised by a single mom, dropped out of school in the ninth grade and held jobs as a roofer and a Walmart greeter, before pinning his hopes on the acting racket.
"I have a kind of checkered past, if you will," he says, and starts talking about how he began drinking in his early teens and gave it up at 19. Previously, he had been many things, a kung fu guy, a rock-drummer guy and a born-again Christian guy who spoke in tongues and wanted to be a preacher. As a teetotaler guy, he decided to cement his newfound sobriety by moving up north to the town of Nanaimo. That's where the roofing came in. That's also where he took his first acting class, which convinced him to move to Vancouver, where he spent the next few months crashing on his acting coach's floor and taking bit parts in anything he could find. Then came the tape he made for the Glee audition. "I looked like a dork, making all these faces, banging on Tupperware like an idiot," he recalls. Off the tape went, and back came a call from a Glee casting director suggesting that Monteith get himself down to L.A. this very instant. "It still shocks the hell out of me," he says. "I still think any minute I'm going to get fired and be shipped back to Canada in handcuffs for stealing that car stereo."
"Stealing car stereos?"
He sighs. "Look, I dropped out of school when I was 14 to go fuck around with my friends and live a lifestyle of crime and pay no mind to authority figures."
"Were you ever arrested?"
"For criminal enterprises or drunk-and-disorderly enterprises?"
"All of the above. I mean, I wasn't killing people. I didn't hurt people." That's good to hear, of course. Killing people would be going too far, probably. Still, a few more details would be nice. "Were you breaking windows to get that car stereo?"
"Specifically," he says, "I just can't remember. But you've got to do what you've got to do, man."
Then he grins, and it's a sly, almost oily grin. It's kind of shocking to see. For some reason, it makes Monteith look not like the boyish, good-natured Monteith of Glee but like a different Monteith, an unknown Monteith. It all happens in a flash, though. Almost instantly, he's back to his usual apple-cheeked, wholesome-looking self.
"Were illegal substances involved?"
"At the moment, I'm affiliated with Glee, and I think it would detract from the show to have that conversation." Then, again with that grin.
And it's suddenly quite apparent that there's a lot more to pretty-boy, drum-playing Monteith than maybe meets the eye. A few minutes later, we ask him to entertain us. He smiles that smile again, this time like he's been prepped for the request by some tattletale. He turns over a couple of glasses and uses a knife and fork to bang out a version of his Glee audition. It's disappointing, but we let it go. We have other questions for him. The very same kinds of questions that Glee's writers might ask while trying to dream up story lines.
"Have you ever made out with any of your Glee-mates?"
"No. Can't mix business with pleasure."
"Ever made out with a guy?"
"No! That's intense, man. That's a question I was not expecting."
"So, are you making the rounds with the ladies?"
"No, man. I try to stay out of it. I try to behave maturely."
"Were you some kind of hustler as a kid, like a con kid?"
There's a great big pause. Monteith seems to be struggling with something.
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