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Glee's Cory Monteith: High School Dropout to Hollywood Star

Glee, Cory Monteith, Lea Michele Carin Baer/FOX

Cory Monteith is one grateful guy.

He stars as Finn Hudson, the singing high school football jock in television's new, much-buzzed-about musical comedy Glee (which finally begins its regular weekly run on Fox tonight!)

"The fact that I get to do this for a living is ridiculous," Monteith, 27, tells me in a small theater in Los Angeles where Glee has been filming the season finale.

"I still can't wrap my head around the fact that people are paying me to do this," he adds.

There was a time when Monteith didn't think he'd ever land more than a blue-collar job back in his native Canada. He never even finished high school...

"It wasn't for me," Monteith says about school. "I can remember ever since about the sixth or seventh grade, I just didn't understand why I had to learn what I was learning. For some reason, there was a spirit of rebellion in me."

He didn't think about a career in show business until he was 20 years old.

"I was working as a roofer and taxi driver in some backwater town and I was at loose ends and somebody said, 'You should be an actor!' " Monteith said. "I was like, 'Sure! I need to pay my rent.' "

Before landing Glee, he built up a résumé that includes work in movies like Final Destination 3 and a slew of television shows, including Kyle XY.

"People are really happy that it worked out," he says, regarding his friends and family back in Canada. "Things went very, very badly in my life for a long time and now they are going very well."

That doesn't mean he's taking anything for granted. "I don't forget where I come from," he stresses.

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Want more TV scoop? Check out this story for first-season secrets from Glee.