Canada's Cory Monteith is ready for his close-up. Already famous for his portrayal of footballer-turned-songbird Finn Hudson in the hit series Glee, Monteith has become increasingly newsworthy of late.
Born in Calgary and raised in Victoria, he hit a pop-culture benchmark with his guest-voice appearance on last month's season's debut of The Simpsons. More notoriously, he was flanked by his Glee co-stars Dianna Agron and Lea Michele on this month's controversial GQ cover. And now the 28-year-old's celebrity profile is poised to arc even higher - if only in his home and native land - as he preps to host the annual Gemini Awards broadcast in Toronto next month.
As befits any good Canadian boy, Monteith has so far steered clear of the Hollywood fast lane and kept his name and face out of the tabloids. He spoke to us by phone from Los Angeles last week.
How has life changed since Glee crossed over from TV show to phenomenon?
Well, I went to get coffee yesterday and a little car pulled up and this guy started taking pictures of me, which was fine. When I went back to my car and started driving away, I saw this guy running to his car to try and follow me, so I had to lose him. I'm happy I have a fast car.
Does making the show feel any different in its sophomore season?
The talent of the show is more specific now. The writing and the characters are more specific. The show has sort of developed a feel. Not just in the characters and the way it's photographed. It feels very consistent and very original.
How closely does co-creator Ryan Murphy oversee the shooting of each Glee episode?
He absolutely is the guiding voice of the show. Ryan knows exactly how we wants everything, down to the music, to the way the scripts are put together and the characters, even the costumes. He has a hand in everything. He's very present. We all work seamlessly with him. It's actually a great working environment.
Many people don't realize that before Glee you spent several years guesting on various filmed-in-Canada series and movies. Was that your training ground?
I like to say I was a working-class actor in Canada. Working on so many different shows in Vancouver and other places in Canada taught me how to change gears pretty quickly in television. Canadian TV only helped me.
Now you're hosting the Gemini Awards, honouring the best of Canadian television. Did you watch them as a kid?
Yeah, I watched them at home growing up. I can't believe I'm a part of the show now, especially hosting it. I'm the host! What the heck! Just presenting is even cool. It's a tall order, but I'm looking forward to the challenge.
Because of Glee , are you inclined to come out singing and dancing at the Geminis?
I'm still hashing out what I want to do on the show. I haven't even talked to the writers yet. You kind of have to roll with the punches.
What are your preparations for hosting a live awards show?
I've started a really in-depth stretching routine. I've seen other Gemini hosts not in the sort of physical shape you need to be in, so I'm getting limber. I'm also working on the splits. I'm trying to work that in there somehow.
Any pressure to measure up to previous Geminis hosts like Martin Short, Jason Priestley et al.?
Now I'm scared, so thanks a lot. No, it's all good. I just have to bring my A game.
This interview has been condensed and edited.
Glee airs Tuesdays on Fox and Global at 8 p.m. Cory Monteith hosts the 25th Annual Gemini Awards Nov. 13 on Global and Showcase.
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