Glee's Lea Michele is the latest star to join the list of cancelled celebrities in 2020, but her fall from grace has been a long time coming.
From rumours of a high-profile guest star's set complaint way back in 2012, to a feud sparked with a co-star from the very first day she stepped on the Glee set, Michele's undoing has seemingly been one viral accusation away for years.
This week, former co-star Samantha Ware, 28, made that very accusation. And the floodgates burst open.
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• Backlash over Lea Michele's apology amid wave of fresh accusations
• Lea Michele apologises following accusations from Glee co-stars
As posts supporting the Black Lives Matter campaign dominated social media this week following George Floyd's death in police custody, Ware responded to a tweet Michele shared endorsing the movement.
Ware – who played Jane Hayward on the hit musical series for its sixth season in 2015 – claimed the actor made her time on the show a "living hell".
"George Floyd did not deserve this. This was not an isolated incident and it must end. #BlackLivesMatter," Michele had shared.
In an all-caps response to Michele's post, Ware wrote that she would "never forget" the "traumatic microagressions" she claims to have received from the star – including a shocking allegation that she had "told everyone that if you had the opportunity you would 'sh*t in my wig'."
Shortly after Ware posted her tweet, food delivery brand HelloFresh announced it was ending its partnership with 33-year-old Michele, declaring it "does not condone racism nor discrimination of any kind".
The move followed a number of other Glee stars publicly backing Ware's allegations.
Among them, disturbing allegations of grotesque behind the scenes behaviour, stories of extras belittled daily, and young actors' jobs made no less than "nightmarish."
MICHELE'S 'NON APOLOGY'
The actor, who played Rachel Berry on the hit musical comedy Glee, issued a lengthy three-page statement on Instagram on Tuesday night after losing her HelloFresh deal, claiming that while she doesn't "remember" the specific behaviour she'd been accused of, she had "clearly acted in ways which hurt other people".
"Whether it was my privileged position and perspective that caused me to be perceived as insensitive or inappropriate at times, or whether it was just my immaturity and me being unnecessarily difficult, I apologise for my behaviour," Michele said.
The star, who played Rachel Berry on all six seasons of Glee, is currently expecting her first baby with husband Zandy Reich, and added that she "wanted to be a real role model" for their child.
"We can all grow and change and I have definitely used these past several months to reflect on my own shortcomings."
But far from putting a stop to the flow of bad press, Michele's apology sparked a wave of backlash and a fresh round of accusations including claims she called Glee extras "cockroaches" and had people "fired on a whim".
GLEE CAST WEIGH-IN
Ware has been fiercely supported by other Glee cast members, including central cast members Alex Newell (Unique Adams), Heather Morris (Brittany S. Pierce) and Amber Riley (Mercedes Jones), who weighed in with not-so-cryptic responses.
Responding to fans who questioned the version of events, Newell wrote: "Child we ain't got not a damn thing to lie about 6 years later!"
Riley tweeted several GIFs of herself throwing knowing glances as the original tweet gained traction on social media, but later said she "didn't give a s***" about the allegations.
"I don't give a s**t. People are out here dying. Being murdered by police. Trans women are being murdered at the hands of men," she said during an Instagram Live interview with Danielle Young.
Heather Morris – who played Brittany S. Pierce on the series – also described her as "very unpleasant" to work with.
Another of Michele's former Glee colleagues, Chase Edmondson – who worked in production for seasons three and four – shared a shocking story of an encounter with the star.
"My strongest memory of you was storming out of the Glee classroom set yelling, 'Does anyone have gum?'" he replied in the comments section of her apology.
"I was standing about 10 feet from you with gum already in hand. When I said 'I do', offering it to you, you just looked at me and said 'Ew' before walking off to crafty on the next stage.
"Hopefully you've grown as a person and treat people better on sets."
And actress Imia Edwards, who appeared in season six, claimed Michele made background performers on set feel as though they were "nothing" and referred to them as "cockroaches".
"I've never really seen anyone treat extras like that, to that level of, 'Ugh, don't look at me, don't make eye contact, ugh cockroaches, there they are,'" Edwards, 34, told The Sun.
She went on to detail shooting a particular scene, claiming that between sets, Michele's behaviour was astonishing.
"She walked by me and burped in my face, this loud burp, directly almost face-to-face, it wasn't even like, 'Oh she wouldn't have known.' She knew she burped in my face.
"Two other people saw it and an operator said, 'Oh my God, I'm so sorry she did that.' I was just like, 'Yeah, whatever.' You're on set trying to be professional, you're not trying to make a huge deal about things.
"(After) the second or third take she walked by me and stepped on my foot really hard. You know when you bump into someone you can feel it, again nothing, no reaction, like I wasn't there.
"Another extra rolled her eyes like, 'Wow, that's so like her to not acknowledge.' It made me feel like I was nothing, even if she just said in a half-a**ed kind of way like, 'Oh, I'm sorry,' but no."
Another extra actor named Dabier revealed that Michele told him he "couldn't sit at her table" because he "didn't belong there", and popular drag queen and actor Willam Belli weighed in, saying he left the set of Glee after Michele treated him "subhuman".
OTHER CASTMATES AND INDUSTRY FIGURES
Her alleged mistreatment of colleagues is claimed to have continued far beyond the Glee set — even extending to fans.
Former castmates from Broadway musical Spring Awakening, in which she starred from 2006-2008, described her as a "nightmare" to others on set.
Actor, singer and dancer Marcus S. Daniel claimed Michele was "abusive, rude, condescending and at many times downright cruel" in the "many times" they'd worked together over the years.
"There was no excuse for your behaviour. You have so much talent, but there is so much hate within your heart," he wrote beneath her apology on Instagram.
"You said one incredibly cruel thing to me once and you didn't even know my name. Everyone who has worked with you carries those memories with them.
"An Instagram apology written in your 'notes' app just doesn't cut it. This isn't an isolated incident. It's YEARS of crap you've pulled that people are bringing up.
"You used to call extras on Glee 'cockroaches' and you got people fired on a whim. You have much work to do. MUCH."
30 Rock actor Keith Powell also said he was co-signing Ware's statement, saying: "Lea Michele is a terrible human and has said terrible things to many different types of people, including racist micoagressions to/about black people."
On Instagram, a woman who was hired to work as a "lookalike" at the premiere party for Glee shared yet another story of Michele's nasty behaviour — before the show had even aired and she had become a relatively well-known actress.
"September 2009 I was hired to work at the premiere party for Glee at a high school. They hired lookalikes of the shows characters to perform at the party. I was the Rachel Berry lookalike.
"I didn't know my character was the lead let alone who played her. When the actors arrived at the event and found out there were lookalikes of them Lea came searching for me.
"When she saw me she said, "Oh my god! Could they have picked someone uglier!"
"Cory Monteith saw the look on my face and said, "Don't listen to her she's just jealous, you're beautiful." I never forgot that," she recalled of the actor who played Finn Hudson, Michele's former partner who died of a drug overdose in 2013.
And a fan claimed a similar experience meeting the actress: "I met Lea Michele once and I told her that I was such a huge fan and I was obviously pretty flamboyant at the time because I was excited and she responded, "Yea all the gays watch our show. Nothing special." and walked away. I was literally so confused but I'm so glad people are waking up to how RUDE she is," he said.
EARLY WHISPERS AND A VICIOUS FEUD
This is far from the first we've heard of Lea Michele's alleged diva antics — for years former co-stars have spoken out about her behaviour.
Notably, Naya Rivera, who played Glee cheerleader Santana, and has been open about their long-running feud.
While Michele denied there was any bad blood between them, telling The Late Show, "The way people like to pit women against each other … is really annoying and it's sad," Rivera spilled on the feud in her book, Sorry Not Sorry, which came out in 2016.
"Lea and I were like two sides of the same battery … We are both strong willed and competitive — not just with each other but with everyone — and that's not a good mixture," she wrote.
"As the show progressed … Especially as Santana moved from a background character to one with bigger plot lines and more screen time. I think Rachel — erm, I mean Lea — didn't like sharing the spotlight."
"It seemed like she blamed me for anything and everything that went wrong. If I'd complained about anyone or anything, she'd assumed I was bitching about her. Soon, she started to ignore me, and eventually it got to the point where she didn't say a word to me for all of Season 6," she said.
According to US Weekly, in 2012, Kate Hudson even made a complaint against her.
After guest starring in a few episodes of the show, she allegedly called Michele a "nightmare" on set and issued a complain about her behaviour.
A source told Us Weekly at the time: "Once, during a technical delay, Lea snapped her fingers and said, 'Let's go. I have plans!'"