If you can’t imagine anyone playing Rachel Berry on Glee other than Lea Michele, there might be a reason for that. Creator Ryan Murphy says he wrote the role specifically for her. But that doesn’t mean the two are necessarily one and the same. Just how similar is Lea to her onscreen counterpart?
In spring of 2009, Lea was trying to get over her break-up from Jersey Boys star John Lloyd Young when her bestie Jonathan Groff (Jesse) convinced her to fly out to L.A. and join him for a meeting with Ryan Murphy, who was working on the Glee pilot. The three went out for dinner at the Chateau Marmont a few days later, and the rest is history.
“She’d been bemoaning the fact that there were no roles for girls like her, not a lot of musical romantic-comedy roles,” Ryan recalls in Elle. “I really wrote the role for her, to give her something where she could really strut her stuff.”
But is Rachel’s personality a carbon copy of Lea’s? There are certainly similarities, as the recent Elle cover story on Lea describes her as “exacting,” not unlike Rachel. Jonathan adds, “You’re in or you’re out with Lea. Her friendship is extreme in a good way.” This seems true of Rachel as well, who has a core group of a couple very close pals, like Kurt (Chris Colfer) and Santana (Naya Rivera).
However, while the Elle article points out that Lea’s home is immaculate, much as Rachel’s room in high school was, it also stresses that Lea is “much more fully drawn and complex person than the [character] she plays on TV.”
Another example of a difference appears to be how the two spend their leisure time. Rachel is always striving to compete and better herself, while the real Lea is fully capable of taking some downtime. Lea has made no secret of her love of reality shows, and it’s hard to imagine Rachel watching Real Housewives — as Lea does — let alone telling the world about it.
So even though the part was essentially created for her, Lea is certainly her own person. And we think it’s just a testament to Lea’s incredible acting ability that the part seems like such a natural one for her.