Yes, the first script of the Ryan Murphy-created musical juggernaut, which ultimately ran for six seasons on Fox and picked up multiple Emmys, featured a very different origin story for the glee club director played by Matthew Morrison.
“[The] original script was a very dark comedy,” Murphy said on the podcast “And That’s What You REALLY Missed,” hosted by cast members Kevin McHale and Jenna Ushkowitz. “Mr. Schue, I believe, was a crystal meth addict in Ian’s script.”
“It was sort of like ‘Election,’ but like the NC-17 version of show choir with a weird protagonist who was unraveling,” he added.
Murphy also said that the first draft of the pilot, written by co-creator Ian Brennan, featured the teacher inappropriately “touching” his students.
The script made its way to Murphy’s hands after FX chose not to pick up his series “Pretty/Handsome,” leaving him feeling defeated and without a project.
“Like serendipity, I went to the gym and I was in a towel and a guy came up and handed me a script,” Murphy recalled. “He said, ‘I have a feeling you were in show choir, am I right?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah.’”
“And he said, ‘My friend wrote this script and you should read it,’” Murphy said. “And he gave it to me.”
But the darker elements of the project didn’t exactly appeal to Murphy, who wanted to work on a show that was “very poppy and primary colors” after helming the twisted plastic surgery drama “Nip/Tuck” for years. So, after months of rewriting and pitching to the network, “Glee” was given a 13-episode order, and the rest is history.
As for casting the show, before Morrison eventually came aboard, Murphy revealed that he was eyeing a certain pop star to play the role.
“When we were writing the pilot ― I’ve never really talked about this ― that pilot was written for Justin Timberlake,” he said. “Mr. Schue was written for Justin.”
“Glee” would go on to welcome a number of A-listers throughout its run, including everyone from Gwyneth Paltrow and Britney Spears to Olivia Newton-John and Whoopi Goldberg. But the former boy band star never made an appearance.
A few Timberlake songs, however, did slip through over the years, including a “Bye Bye Bye / I Want It That Way” mash-up from his ’N Sync days, as well as his Madonna collaboration “4 Minutes.”
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