Before Glee's fourth season started, everyone was focused on what was to become of Rachel (Lea Michele), Finn (Cory Monteith), Kurt (Chris Colfer) and the rest of the McKinley gang. But we (almost) forgot about all of that the first time we laid eyes (and ears) on Melissa Benoist's character Marley. And that is why she is one of our Breakout Stars of 2012.
She proved to be a refreshing and talented addition to Glee, and while we adore the New York storylines, we don't mind staying at McKinley to see what happens with Marley. We hopped on the phone with Benoist to talk about her big Glee debut, Michael Fassbender mania and what those long hours on set are really like.
Did you know how big your character was going to be when you auditioned?
Melissa Benoist: It was pretty much under wraps. I knew vaguely about her. The breakdown for the role said: "a girl guys might have a crush on." [Laughs]. I did know initially that she was poor and the storyline with her mom was a part of the audition.
How was your first day on set? Did you feel nervous joining a cast who had already been together for so long?
Of course I was. I was really nervous. It was a strange feeling of intimidation, but they are the most welcoming and fun group of people. It's infectious to be around them. On the first day, I think I was there for 12 hours in the choir room, and within the first five hours we were all already joking around and having a ball.
Glee fans are very passionate about the show. Were you worried about any backlash from the Gleeks?
Of course I was. They are...a different breed of fan. Thankfully, it's been a lot of positive support. But there are people who just have very strong opinions about what they like and what they don't like on the show. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but sometimes it is a bit jarring reading what fans have to say.
Marley had a very intense storyline with her eating disorder. What was your reaction when you found out you'd be tackling that heavy topic?
I feel very fortunate. I really like that kind of stuff. Part of the reason I do what I do is I like exploring issues like that. When Ryan Murphy first told me, it was my first week of work and he brought Jacob Artist and I into his office and said: "I really want Marley to be relatable and I think she's going to have an eating disorder and go through something like that, so do your research now. I want it to be truthful and honest." And that was something that I was really striving for.
So what's coming up next for Marley?
There are bright things for her future. I think she had to do through what she went through to really appreciate her strengths and recognize her weaknesses. It's a new day for her coming up.
If Glee gets a season five, would you want to be apart of it?
Oh, of course I would. I'm having so much fun working on the show. It's the greatest group of people and I'm learning so much. We're working so hard and so much, every day feels like a class. It's just awesome.
What entertainment stuff were you obsessed with in 2012?
I'm obsessed with Michael Fassbender. He's unbelievable. I think he's a modern day Brando. Every movie that he's done in the past couple years I just died for him. He's extremely fascinating.
Now that 2012 is coming to a close, what do you hope to see for yourself in 2013?
I don't know. I have a very optimistic view of my future right now. I'm very excited to see where it goes, but I try not to make plans just because I know how unpredictable life can be. Especially the life of an actor, and especially the life of an actor on Glee. I just want to be happy and healthy and surrounded by people I love, as cheesy as it sounds.
Glee returns with new episodes on Jan. 24 on Fox.
Check back tomorrow for more interviews with our picks for 2012's Breakout Stars!