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August 20, 2014

Before They Were Stars: The Cast of 'Glee'

by Audrey Fine, posted Apr 13th 2010 6:00AM
Jane LynchThese days the cast of 'Glee' is everywhere; peering at us from magazine covers, rolling eggs on the White House lawn and chatting with Oprah.

They've become such media darlings that it's hard to believe we'd never even heard of most of these actors till the show debuted last spring and made them overnight stars. In fact, for some, like Amber Riley [Mercedes], Chris Colfer [Kurt] and Mark Salling [Puck], 'Glee' is one of their first professional gigs! Crazy what a difference a year can make.

So, just what was this talented bunch up to pre-'Glee?'

Read more after the jump.These days the cast of 'Glee' is everywhere; peering at us from magazine covers, rolling eggs on the White House lawn and chatting with Oprah. They've become such media darlings that it's hard to believe we'd never even heard of most of these actors till the show debuted last spring and made them overnight stars. In fact, for some, like Amber Riley [Mercedes], Chris Colfer [Kurt] and Mark Salling [Puck], 'Glee' is one of their first professional gigs! Crazy what a difference a year can make.

So, just what was this talented bunch up to pre-'Glee?' Read on...

Jane LynchJane Lynch
Sue Sylvester
Unlike most of her castmates, Illinois native Lynch has been a working actor for a long time. In addition to logging several years with famed improv troupe 'Second City,' Lynch has appeared in countless TV shows, commercials and movies. Accordingly, her resume; of guest spots on shows such as 'Gilmore Girls,' 'Frasier' and 'Empty Nest' reads like a list of the best-loved TV series of the past 20 years. Since 2004, the actress has had a recurring role as Charlie Harper's (Charlie Sheen) shrink on 'Two and a Half Men.' Her hilarious performances on the big screen in both 'Best in Show' and 'The 40-Year Old Virgin' served to cement Lynch as one of the best character actors working today.

Matthew Morrison Matthew Morrison
Will Schuester
At 18 -- after a brief stint in the boy band LMNT -- Morrison moved from his native California to attend the prestigious NYU Tisch School of the Arts, but bailed soon thereafter when he landed a replacement role in 'Footloose' on Broadway. In no time, he was starring on the Great White Way as heartthrob Link Larkin in the revival of 'Hairspray' and in 2005 he was nominated for a Tony Award for his performance as the romantic lead in 'Light at the Piazza.' Roles on TV shows like 'Sex and the City,' 'CSI: Miami' and 'Law & Order: Criminal Intent' soon followed as did a stint on the soap 'As the World Turns.' These days, in addition to clocking 16-hour days as Will Schuester, Morrison is busy in the recording studio laying down tracks for an upcoming solo album that he has said will be like "Justin Timberlake meets Michael Bublé."


Lea Michele
Rachel Berry
Michele, whom series creator Ryan Murphy calls a 'once in a generation voice,' was born in The Bronx and has been performing on Broadway since age 9. She played Cosette in the original New York production of 'Les Misérables' and more roles in high profile musicals like 'Ragtime' and 'Fiddler on the Roof.' Michele who, in addition to a vocal register that's been compared to that of Barbra Streisand, also has perfect pitch. In 2006, Michele snagged a Drama Desk Award nomination for her portrayal of Wendla in the smash hit 'Spring Awakening.' (Psst. Her 'Spring' co-star, Jonathan Groff, will join the 'Glee' cast this year for 6 episodes). Michele's only other TV credit was a bit part in a 2000 episode of 'Third Watch.'

Cory Monteith
Cory Monteith
Finn Hudson
High School drop out Monteith was a greeter at Wal-Mart in his native Canada before moving to Los Angeles to pursue acting. He landed "blink-and-miss-me" parts on shows like 'Stargate Atlantis' and 'Smallville,' had a recurring role on 'Kyle XY' and made a couple of movies including 'Final Destination 3.' The 27 year-old (he turns 28 in May), who's rumored to be dating Taylor Swift, landed the part of Finn by submitting a video of him playing the drums – on Tupperware.

Dianna Agron
Quinn Fabray
As an actress, Agron, who roomed with co-star Lea Michele for 6 months, is no stranger to pom-poms. Before landing the part of snooty, knocked-up Quinn, the former honors student played a spiteful cheer captain on 'Heroes' and appeared on several episodes of 'Veronica Mars.' Agron also wrote, directed and starred in a movie called 'The Fuchsia Elephant,' about an 18-year-old girl who recreates the 8th birthday party she wishes she'd had. And, another of her screenplays, about a boy who can't say "I love you," was optioned a few weeks before she landed the gig on 'Glee.' Fans can look for her on the big screen later this year in 'The Romantics,' a romantic comedy starring Josh Duhamel and Katie Holmes.

Jayma Mays Jayma Mays
Emma Pillsbury
Mays -- whom IMDB cites as liking to do long division in her spare time -- got her first TV role in 2004 on the 'Friends' spin-off 'Joey.' Parts on 'How I Met Your Mother,' 'Entourage' and 'Ghost Whisperer' followed before the Virginia native landed recurring parts on both 'Ugly Betty' and 'Heroes.' When she's not crushing on Mr. Schuester as Emma, Mays will be busy lending her considerable vocal talent to the upcoming 'Smurfs' movie alongside such luminaries as ['Glee' guest star] Neil Patrick Harris, Kevin James and Katy Perry.


Jessalyn Gilsig
Terri Schuester
Mr. Schue's conniving, estranged wife has been working in Hollywood for years. The French Canadian Gilsig boasts a theater degree from Harvard, was a series regular on 'Boston Public' and had recurring roles on 'N.Y.P.D. Blue,' 'Friday Night Lights' and 'Nip/Tuck.'
Jenna Ushkowitz

Jenna Ushkowitz
Tina Cohen-Chang
Ushkowitz, who was born in South Korea and adopted by a family from Long Island, NY, has been acting since she was 3 and, by age 10, was on Broadway in 'The King & I.' Ushkowitz and 'Glee' cast mate Lea Michele have known each other since they were 8 and worked together in Duncan Sheik's Tony award-winning musical, 'Spring Awakening.'

Kevin McHale
Artie Abrams
Before dancing in a wheelchair as Artie, Texas-born McHale was in the boy band NLT (Not Like Them) for a couple of years. If you're a diehard 'Zoey: 101' fan, you may have spotted him in a couple of episodes. Same goes for 'True Blood' and 'The Office.'

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