Ryan Murphy Says Darker Take on Glee's Mr. Schue Originally Written for Justin Timberlake

We’re just one episode into Jenna Ushkowitz and Kevin McHale’s new “Glee” podcast, “And That’s What You REALLY Missed,” and the former co-stars are already coming through with the tea!

For their first installment, they welcomed co-creator Ryan Murphy, who revealed just how different the show could have been right from the start. It all starts with Will Schuester, aka glee club director Mr. Schue, portrayed by Matthew Morrison.

A lot of times, when someone is creating a new project, a character will be written with a certain star in mind. That was the case with Mr. Schue, only it wasn’t Morrison co-creator Ian Brennan had in mind when he developed the first draft of this script based on his own experiences in a show choir.

“I’ve never really talked about this, that pilot was written for Justin Timberlake,” Murphy admitted. “Mr. Schue was written for Justin.”

But it’s not just that Schue would have been bringing “SexyBack” as the pop star, because his character was almost drastically different, as well.

“Mr. Schue, I believe, was a crystal meth addict in Ian’s script,” Murphy noted. He went on to describe that version of the project as “the NC-17 version of show choir with a weird protagonist who was unraveling.”

According to Murphy, he’d been looking for a new project when a guy (TV producer Mike Novick) literally handed him Brennan’s script while he was standing in a towel in a gym. It was originally conceived as a film.

“I had a feeling you were in show choir, am I right?” Murphy claimed Novick said to him, handing him Brennan’s script when he said he had been and telling him he should read it.

That original take, though, felt a little too dark for both Fox and Murphy himself, who said he was looking for something with a little optimism.

Clearly, though, there was enough in that locker room script for Murphy to collaborate with Brennan and Brad Falchuk in evolving that initial script into the show that swept a generation.

“Glee” went on to dominate pop culture from 2009 to 2015, with radio and album releases, and live performances. Across six seasons, the show was nominated for 32 Emmys (winning six), 9 Golden Globes (winning four), 30 Teen Choice Awards (winning 14) and more culminating in more than 150 nominations and 70 wins.

It made stars out if its cast, including Morrison, McHale and Ushkowitz, as well as Jane Lynch, Lea Michele, Amber Riley, Naya Rivera, Darren Criss, Melissa Benoist, Alex Newell, Dot-Marie Jones among others.

The show also attracted some of the world’s biggest guest stars, including Britney Spears, Demi Lovato, Gwyneth Paltrow, Whoopi Goldberg, Sarah Jessica Parker, Olivia Newton-John, Gloria Estefan, Neil Patrick Harris, Jeff Goldblum, John Stamos, Kate Hudson, Lindsay Lohan and more!

Ushkowitz and McHale’s interview with Ryan Murphy will continue in the second installment of their “And That’s What You REALLY Missed” podcast.

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