Tonight's episode of Glee was everything a mid-season finale should be: emotional, funny, and full of surprises. Add the series' most shocking cliffhanger to that mix, and you've got the makings of a historic Glee episode. (Make sure you get our scoop on the fate of Quinn/ Dianna Agron in tonight's Glee-Dux.)
A huge part of tonight's crazy twist-filled episode was of course Dave Karofsky, played by Max Adler. We saw the bully's journey come full circle, and if you haven't watched tonight's Glee yet, please avert your eyes. Because we spoke with Adler about his reaction to Karofsky's surprising storyline, and he had lots of great things to say about it. Plus, he reveals if he'll be back after the looong hiatus…
This is one of the most controversial, if not the most controversial, and intense storyline that Glee has ever done. What was going through your head when you first heard this is where your storyline was going?
Max Adler: I was incredibly happy that the writers and producers chose to go there, and I said that to them, 'It's so brave and honest, and you're really treating this character with the integrity that he deserves.'... I felt like to not show the struggle and to have him just kind of flip over and be nice and be happy, I just felt like it wouldn't have done it the proper justice and it wouldn't have been treated with the honesty that it deserves. So I was incredibly happy that they decided to kind of push the envelope and go there because I feel like the message that results out of that in the end is one of hope and optimism.
Glee's specialty is combining high school comedy and high school drama.
To me I feel like you've got a show like Glee, where it deals with high school and it deals with all the excitement and the optimism and the hope of your future and being able to go anywhere and do anything you want to do. But on the flip side, you have to show the struggles and the anxieties and the fears that kids can go through...so paradoxily you can understand that the light and the hope and the happiness in the comedy that Glee does.
We first saw you this season in the "First Time" episode. Did you know then what was going to happen or did you find out later?
I found out later. I didn't know until I got the script. Nothing was ever discussed with me, they just kind of provide it and then I'm just thrilled to be able to experience it and portray it. So, I had no idea where it was going. When I got cast in season one, it was just a two line, slushy-throwing thing. I don't think anybody had any idea that it would kind of become this incredibly complex, rich character. And I [give] all the credit to the writers for seeing what is happening in the world and in the news and being able to tell a story that can shed light on it and open people's minds and have them gain perspective about what's really going on.
I think that after people see the episode, a lot of the credit is going to go to you, because you were really great in the scene.
That means a lot, thank you. We took it very seriously. I think the really important thing in that scene as you saw was the decision to commit suicide was made after the Facebook messages, and to me, I feel like the locker room is heartbreaking and tragic but you can deal with that a little bit more because it's kind of face-to-face, and you feel the emotions. But I feel like when cyber-bullying happens, and you are kind of getting hit from all different angles, and you don't know who these people are and bullying takes on this life of its own, it becomes incredibly scary and you want to hide in a hole. And for Karofsky there is no other way to express himself anymore. He tried the bullying and the hard bravado outer shell and that didn't work. And then he tried to accept who he was and experiment and try going to gay bars and ended up being sensitive with Kurt with the Valentine's-gram and that door got slammed in his face. And I feel like he was just kind of out of questions and out of possibilities.
For gay teenagers who might be in the same position that Karofsky was in, what do you hope they took away from the episode?
My dad always told me a quote that I loved whenever I had problems in school and he said, "Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem." And I feel that kids watching this will see that [suicide] is absolutely not the answer, and that there are people in the world who will accept you for who you are and your genuine true self. I feel like people are afraid to speak their opinions, to voice what they want to voice and it's a matter of everyone kind of fitting into a role, and I feel like that is what Glee does. [Glee] breaks that down and shows you that you can't let society get the best of you because it's such a narrow-minded and ignorant way of thinking. This show I feel like will create that gained perspective for people and show that it's not wrong being gay or being who you are or being an underdog of any type because we're all just individuals. And I feel like if people watch this show and realize that it's not necessary to hide from yourself and that there are people like Kurt (Chris Colfer) who will be there for you no matter what. That is what I hope they take away. And also the other side—when Mr. Schuester (Matthew Morrison) and Beiste (Dot Marie Jones) and Sylvester (Jane Lynch) all start talking about how they saw the warning signs, and they wish they would have talked to me or done something, I feel like that is an incredibly important message, too. Society and school districts tell teachers that they have to stay away from it and that it's a delicate issue and nobody really wants to talk about it, but if one person stepped up and defended him in that locker room, or if one teacher tried to get through to him or asked like, 'What's up? What's going on with you?' it could have saved a life.
Will we see Dave Karofsky again after the hiatus?
I would love it. To have experienced that life and to have this role has just been incredible, and I think it's really important for people to see it. I've talked with a lot of people that see themselves as Karofsky or know Karofsky's out there and they kind of need to see how he deals with it and what happens, to know that they will be okay in their own lives. So for me, yes I would love for him to come back.
At least we saw he got a happy ending with a little flash-forward, which made us cry, by the way!
I hope so, I hope you're moved. But that to me is a way to deal with it because you are showing that there is a happiness to be found, and I feel like rather than money or success or career it really boils down to finding someone who will love you for your true genuine self. And if Karofsky can find that, and as long the audience sees that if you just find one or two people out there that will just love you and accept you and embrace you for everything that you are, that is the hope right there, and that is what gets you through all the negativity.
What did you think of Karofsky's storyline? Did Adler's performance make you cry, too?