Life after Glee for rising star Lea Michele

By Kaleem Aftab

Lea Michele, here as her Glee character Rachel Berry, has taken her first tentative steps into film with a part in ensemble romantic drama New Year's Eve, which has a big-name cast including Jon Bon Jovi. Photo / Supplied
Lea Michele, here as her Glee character Rachel Berry, has taken her first tentative steps into film with a part in ensemble romantic drama New Year's Eve, which has a big-name cast including Jon Bon Jovi. Photo / Supplied

For all the talk of how television shows have seen their cachet rise considerably in the past decade, with shows from The Sopranos to Mad Men and Glee winning fans around the globe, and big-name move directors such as Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese directing TV episodes, it still seems as hard as ever for a TV star to make it big in cinema.

The latest star to be taking tentative steps to jump out of TV is Glee's Lea Michele, appearing in Pretty Woman director Garry Marshall's new ensemble film New Year's Eve.

Marshall's romantic drama takes place in New York at the end of the year, when resolutions are being made and love is being lost and found. The cast includes Robert De Niro, Ashton Kutcher, Hilary Swank, Katherine Heigl, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jon Bon Jovi and Zac Efron.

Michele's scenes are mainly with Kutcher, who has been making headlines following his split with Demi Moore.

The 25-year-old actress has also recently split from her beau, Broadway actor Theo Stockman, although she has been quick to state that they remain on amicable terms.

Playing in a star-laden ensemble is a smart move for Michele to make as she starts slowly to think of a post-Glee career. In New Year's Eve the attention will not just be on her - there is none of the focus that would have come had she played a leading lady.

Michele proves she already has the gift of the gab when it comes to movie promotion by talking up her on-screen kiss with Kutcher and revealing how he flashed her on set.

She saw the incident as funny. Indeed, when we meet she displays a propensity to see the funny side in almost everything that has gone on in her life, ever since Glee creator Ryan Murphy saw her working on Broadway show Spring Awakening and began writing the part of Rachel Berry for her - so it's perhaps no surprise Michele admits that she and Rachel have many similar personality traits.

"I think we share more characteristics with our on-screen roles than we are willing to admit sometimes. I am a big Streisand fan, I come from Broadway and I love performing on stage, very similar to Rachel," she states.

"But not only that, I understand her drive. If you watch the show, and the last two episodes of Season 2, she says 'I'm going to New York and I'm going to be a performer'. And I was and am very much like that. Very driven and on the path of knowing what I wanted to be."

She continues: "I knew what I wanted to be and I didn't let other people influence me or change who I was to fit a certain mould.

"Like getting a nose job, for example. I didn't want to get a nose job because other people said you should, because everyone else in my high school was doing it, and that's what I love most about Rachel and what I can relate to."

Her nose has become a bit of a trademark. She claims that her mother, Edith, an Italian American Roman Catholic nurse, would always tell her growing up that Streisand never went under a knife so nor should she.

The actress faced more difficult questions about another body part when her weight nosedived in 2010 and talk of her being an anorexic began to surface.

Michele puts the weight loss down to a jaw operation.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with the nose of the dark-haired star. She says that filming in LA and being away from the Empire State is the only drawback to her career on Glee.

"The only hard thing about my job is that I'm a New Yorker through and through, and my family is from there so filming in New York is always my wish."

Her parents encouraged her at a young age and she landed her first part on Broadway at the age of 8, as a replacement young Cosette in Les Miserables.

Having also appeared in Ragtime and Fiddler on the Roof, her love of Broadway is clearly stronger than her love of film.

She admits that one of the highlights of working on Glee was "New York", the episode filmed on the stage of Wicked.

"We were crazy kleptomaniacs running around thinking 'what can we steal?' We couldn't because everything was massive or chained down," she chimes. "I found a broom and I was riding around and they couldn't get [it] out of my hand."

With filming of Season 3 due to end in 2012, the big question is what will happen to Michele.

Murphy has revealed the character will graduate. At first, the assumption was that she would leave the show, although this has been retracted somewhat with a statement that, although they will graduate from high school, it will not necessarily mean the end for the characters.

Rachel on Glee is named after Rachel from Friends, a part played by Jennifer Aniston. The New Yorker need only look at the rollercoaster movie career of Aniston for a warning of how difficult the transition to the silver screen can be for a TV star.

Lowdown

Who: Glee star Lea Michele
What: New Year's Eve
When: Opens Thursday

- TimeOut / Independent

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