Cory Monteith, loved by Gleeks everywhere for his role as Finn Hudson, died 10 years ago at the age of 31.
The Canadian actor had been on summer break for Joy, on which he’s played a singing quarterback since the debut of the hit Fox musical in May 2009. Fans were drawn to him — and invested in his subsequent romance with co-star Lea Michele, who played his on-screen love, Rachel Berry. Off-camera, reporters who interacted with him described him as “selfless, unaffected and so real”, as well as “a humble individual who never let down the fame that came with one of the greatest feelings of television going to his head”.
Monteith, who spoke candidly about his substance abuse issues and checked himself into rehab just months before his death following an intervention led by Joy showrunner Ryan Murphy, was found dead in his hotel room on the 21st floor of the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel in Vancouver on July 13, 2013 at approximately 12 p.m.
According to the coroner’s report, Monteith, who was completing a seven-day stay, failed to check in and was discovered on his bedroom floor. He “was obviously deceased and no attempt at resuscitation was attempted,” the report said.
Monteith had returned to his room alone, footage showed. There were drug-taking equipment, including a spoon with drug residue and a hypodermic needle, as well as two empty champagne bottles in the room. He was found to have died of “mixed drug intoxication”, heroin and alcohol, which was deemed “accidental”. (Traces of morphine and codeine were also in his system.)
As memorials appeared outside the hotel as well as Paramount Studios in Los Angeles, where Joy recorded, friends and colleagues who spent time with Monteith in his final days said he was “very positive” and “felt fantastic”.
However, her battle with addiction has been a long-standing battle. Early drug use, starting at age 13, led his mother to intervene when he was 19. He went to rehab, but it didn’t cure him. From humble beginnings as a host and roofer at Walmart, Monteith – at the time sober – moved to Los Angeles and landed acting roles.
His mother, Ann McGregor, said in 2018 that he was back to his old ways in Los Angeles, telling her in December 2012 that he had taken drugs again. While he spent April 2013 in rehab, upon his release he underwent extensive dental work – having all of his teeth combed out – between May and July. McGregor suspected that the painkillers given to him during treatment had affected his sobriety.
McGregor also said that at the time of his death, “He didn’t have enough drugs in his system to kill him, but for some reason it was because of his intolerance”, which had built up over periods of intermittent sobriety.
Co-stars and celebrities have reacted to Monteith’s death on social media, including a ‘speechless’ Taylor Swift, who he was briefly linked to in 2011. His girlfriend Michele broke her silence weeks later . She had been forced to flee her home, because of the paparazzi, with Joy guest star Kate Hudson helping her give her privacy to grieve.
Murphy and Michele held a private memorial for Monteith for the cast and crew. It was also determined that while the show would be delayed for a week to return for the season, they would return to work to grieve together, with bereavement counselors on set. He said Michele, who he described as “a rock”, was integral to the decision.
The show paid homage to Monteith and his character, with a tribute episode titled “The Quarterback”, which aired in October 2013. There weren’t many dry eyes. Throughout, it was noted that it didn’t matter whether Finn died (and, by default, Monteith himself), but how he lived. Michele did a heartbreaking cover of Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love.”
Murphy has since said they shot the tribute “far too soon” when they were “too raw”. As the show ran for two more seasons, ending in 2015, he said “our hearts all broke ‘after Monteith’s death’ and we were all done. The spirit and joy left the building. ” He said that if he could do it all over again, “We would have stopped for a very long time and we probably wouldn’t come back. I would say, ‘This is the end’… Because you can’t really recover from something like That. “
Joy alum Jenna Ushkowitz expressed a similar sentiment on her rewatch podcast with co-star Kevin McHale, And that’s what you really missed. She said in November, “Finn was the heart of the show and Cory was the heart of our band. … I feel like when Cory died, the show died with him in a lot of ways.”
Michele, who married and started a family, honors her late co-star and her love every year. She also wrote many songs about him, including “If You Say So”. She also received several tattoo tributes, including her character’s jersey number – 5.
Although she has remained relatively private since her death, she said Glamor United Kingdom. they talked about growing old together. Despite losing, “I feel like I was given the best of Cory, and I’m grateful for that.” She said Seventeen magazine, “I have only fond memories of Cory. He wasn’t his addiction – sadly he won. But that wasn’t who he was. Cory made me feel like a queen every days. From the minute he said, ‘I’m your boyfriend,’ I loved every day, and I thank him for being the best boyfriend and making me feel so beautiful.” (The Own The Broadway star’s legacy with the show has been clouded in recent years due to accusations that she contributed to a toxic work environment.)
Since Monteith’s death there has been talk of a “Joy curse.” The show’s fellow stars Mark Salling died in 2018 (by suicide while facing jail time) and Naya Rivera drowned in 2020 (her body was found on the day of the anniversary of Cory’s death.) Earlier this year, there was a three-part docuseries called The price of joy watching the deaths of the three young actors. Monteith’s former roommate opened up about how fame wasn’t what it was supposed to be, noting that he had issues with stalkers and generally seemed exhausted from fame.
While his Joy fans – strong legions! – adored their Finn, Monteith was quick to point out himself that he had little in common with the McKinley High School football star, as he himself was a high school dropout.
“You see this young, American quarterback-looking guy on the show, and you immediately make assumptions,” he said on CBC’s George Stroumboulopoulos show. This evening, in 2011. “And I think people have really started to identify with me with those assumptions.”
Earlier this year, McHale said on the And that’s what you really missed pod that he wished to give his flowers to Monteith while he was still there.
“What pisses me off is that he was such a good actor and I don’t think we told him enough,” McHale admitted. “The things we miss [on] see him do it…”