As we watched Glee’s season 5 premiere tonight, something about Rachel Berry struck us. Upbeat, cheery, and determined, Rachel in Glee Season 5 is the same as she’s always been. She might face challenges, but Rachel is just as committed to her goal of becoming a Broadway star as she’s ever been.
But for the woman behind Rachel, actress Lea Michele, in the few months since Glee Season 4 stopped filming... life as she knows it has changed completely.
On July 13, Lea’s longtime co-star and real-life boyfriend Cory Monteith (Finn) passed away suddenly. As a result, his Glee character will be written off the show in Season 5, Episode 3, and the show must continue on without him.
As we watched Rachel on screen this week, we couldn’t help but wonder how Lea was doing. As Rachel sang and danced happily around a diner for “A Hard Day’s Night,” were thoughts of Cory still going through her mind? And as she mournfully sang the words to “Yesterday” in Central Park, how is it even possible that she kept from bursting into tears?
Glee creator Ryan Murphy has said that he gave Lea the option of when she wanted to return to work. She could dive back in soon after Cory’s death, or she could take an extended break and return to filming at a later date. Ryan says Lea chose to come back sooner rather than later.
Lea said she’d prefer to get back to work, and she did just that. The Glee star stepped onto the set of Season 5 for a wardrobe fitting on Thursday, August 1, less than three weeks after Cory’s death.
Four days later, she was back in the studio to record her first song of Season 5. The premiere tune? None other than the Beatles’ emotional “Yesterday.” Given everything that had just happened to Lea, that can’t have been an easy first song to record.
“@msleamichele you are the strongest person I know. That was truly amazing,” executive music producer Adam Anders tweeted. “ Love you xoxo#leastrong.”
Lea has been hard at work ever since. Her character has been in each of the four episodes Glee has filmed so far, though her role in the Cory Monteith tribute has been understandably reduced.
Rachel Berry is still the star of Glee, and Lea Michele’s light won’t be dimmed. Her vocal performances are as strong as ever, and her smile continues to shine bright. All her personal heartbreak aside, Lea is a born performer — and her strength and energy continue to shine through. She’s not letting anything get in her way.