Me, Glee and Gwyneth
POSTED ON May 13, 2011 BY Valentina INUncategorized

Glee has taken over both the TV and pop charts, but what impact has it had on its first breakaway star, Matthew Morrison? As he prepares to release his debut album he talks to Alan Corr about working with Elton John and Gwyneth Paltrow, and why Glee is here to stay.First things first. Let’s get one thing straight – Matthew Morrison is not leaving Glee. “Yeah, I heard that yesterday and I rang the producers and said is this true?” says Morrison, in a good-humoured drawl. “No, I am not leaving Glee. I do see it as an incredible springboard to other things, it already has been a springboard to other things, but I’m not going anywhere I can tell you!”Gleeks everywhere can sigh with relief; the kid is staying in the picture but as Morrison has learned over the past while, these are the kind of rumours that fly around you when you become one of the hottest properties on TV. For those of you still overdosing on ‘Mad Men’ and ‘The Wire’ box sets, Morrison is the 32-year-old singer/actor who plays the eternally optimistic high school teacher and glee club director Will Schuester in TV’s comedy musical, ‘Glee’.Morrison, who is speaking on his mobile as he’s being driven to the set of the show, is a kind of non-threatening heartthrob. He’s one half geek, one half sex symbol and he has become the heart and soul of a show that has stormed both the TV schedules and music charts, on both sides of the Atlantic.’Glee’ is hitting the high notes alright and so it only seems natural that Morrison should release his own album to cash in on that massive crossover success. The record is self-titled and it’s a safe mix of soft rock, chirpy pop, and some rather un-needed cover versions of Elton John’s ‘Candle in The Wind’ and ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ on which he duets with Gwyneth Paltrow, the actress who recently guest starred on ‘Glee’ as substitute teacher Holly Holliday and who now seems set on carving out a second career as a singer.”Gwyneth was really great and really up for doing it,” Morrison says. “Somewhere Over The Rainbow is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.” More importantly, what was it like kissing her on the show? “Hahaha. I’m gonna have to leave that to your imagination. But I can tell you that she was a trooper because I was sick that day and she just said, ‘Ah, what the hell let’s just do it.'”He says working with Elton was surreal. “He is such a student of music. Every Tuesday he goes out and gets all the new releases and he turned me to lots of stuff, including this guy called Plan B. He actually went out to his car to get the CD and we listened to about four tracks and I loved it. I worked together with Elton for three days and it was only afterwards I realised, I’ve just been in the studio with Elton John!”Not bad for a boy from Fort Ord, California whose first job was as a singing waiter in a Thai restaurant. Morrison’s musical influences range from Frank Sinatra to Tony Bennett and Prince and Stevie Wonder and he spent years singing in lead roles in Broadway productions of Footloose and Hairspray. “When I was in New York it was a great time because Broadway gives you a great life,” he says. “You work for a few hours every night and then you go out and you sleep the next day. I did work hard and play hard, but I was never really a wild guy.”His debut album is not Morrison’s first attempt to break into the music industry. In 2001 he was recruited to complete the line up in boyband LMNT, a canny move considering that he looks a tad like Justin Timberlake. But he was replaced by the time their debut album was released. “That was the worst year of my life,” he says now. “You know when you’re a performer and you’re out there on stage and you’re embarrassed that you’re doing something wrong. It was pretty bad.”He went on to make small appearances on TV shows such as ‘The Ghost Whisperer’, ‘Numb3rs’ and ‘CSI: Miami’. But rather than end up in development hell or pilot episode limbo like so many of his peers, he landed the plum role in ‘Glee’. At the start nobody involved thought they had a hit on their hands, but they didn’t reckon on the public’s appetite for ‘High School: The Musical’ or the rash of reality talent shows that dominate American TV.”None of us thought Glee would be big,” says Morrison. “I mean I knew it was going to be good but I thought let’s see, a show about a group of kids in high school who sing . . . Nah, it’s not going to work. We all knew it was something special, but nobody could have guessed how big it would become.”Success has meant that Morrison has endured the strange sense of vertigo that comes with instant fame. On his album he does engage with the strains it puts on his private life, but he’s so laid back and magnanimous you get the impression that he’s really not that fussed. “Well, there is a song called ‘My Name’ which is about what’s been happening to me,” he says. “All the things people say and write about you when you’re on a big show. I can tell you nothing prepares you for fame.”No offence, but I think that real journalism has pretty much disappeared. But hey, people want to read about actors and celebrities and that’s what apparently sells magazines and newspapers. I don’t play the fame game. I know who I am and I don’t really concern myself with what other people might think of me.”Which is just as well because some critics have not been kind to ‘Glee’ and the show has not won respect among parts of the music community. Madonna and Journey may have no problem having their songs featured and benefit from the knock on effects of increased royalties, but the likes of Kings of Leon, Foo Fighters and more recently novelist Bret Easton Ellis have made their dislike of ‘Glee’ very clear.It does raise a very important question – has ‘Glee’ essentially rescued the music industry or condemned it to karaoke hell? “Hahaha,” laughs Morrison like a man with a hit show and a soon-to-be hit album on his hands. “I’m not sure if it’s rescued the music industry, but it might have changed it a little. The thing about all the songs we sing on ‘Glee’ is that everybody knows them but we’re showing the story behind these songs. So if your favourite song features I think people get a chance to find out about it.”But hasn’t ‘Glee’ changed a lot since it began? It’s only in its second season but already perhaps, those signs of early subversion (for a mainstream TV show anyway) have been ironed out in favour of more family-orientated dialogue. For a bunch of high school losers, the glee club are awful purty and popular. Morrison unsurprisingly puts a philosophical spin on that one. “I think every show evolves and I think ‘Glee’ still has elements of edginess,” he says. “I mean you could be watching it expecting a jab and suddenly you end up getting a left hook.”Thank god so for Sue Sylvester. She’s the Machiavellian cheerleader coach played by Jane Lynch who is bent on sabotaging every ‘hey kids, let’s do the show right here!’ plan of the glee club. She is the best thing about the show. “Acting with Jane is the highlight of my week,” says Morrison and you believe him. “Sue is one of my all-time favourite characters. She has upped my game and we’ve become really good friends since the show started. And she is so unlike her character!”Has ‘Glee’ already jumped the shark a mere two seasons in? Depends on what you’re looking for in a hit show really, but with Tom Cruise rumoured to be guest starring as a failed rock star teaching a rival glee club and other actors lining up to indulge their pop idol fantasies and show what great sports they are, ‘Glee’ is going to be around for another while yet.”Oh I think so,” says Morrison and you really can see him grinning broadly down the phone. “It is a punishing work schedule, they do push you but the atmosphere is pretty incredible because everyone goes in and just sings all day and that includes the crew. I go into work everyday with a smile on my face.”And no doubt a song in his heart.SourcePersonal note: “Candle in the wind”? Guess the journalist should have listened to the album before writing about it…

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