Glee may have made Cory Monteith a star, but he didn't only want to be known as the guy who plays Finn.
A year ago tomorrow, the late actor began filming All the Wrong Reasons, an indie ensemble in which he plays the manager of a big box department store.
"He felt extremely lucky…because he was happy to play somebody his age [he was 30 at the time] and this was a bit of a deviation from his typical role," the film's producer Tony Whalen told me this morning. "It's a serious topic and it's a bit darker of a character."
In the movie, Monteith's character is helping his wife (Karine Vanasse) move on after witnessing a traumatic family ordeal.
"Cory totally delivered," Whalen said. "There is this one particular scene that was a bit of a heated discussion with his wife and it was just unbelievable how powerful it was. He really embraced that role and he completely knocked everybody's socks off with his portrayal."
Funny enough, Monteith didn't have to research his role like the other actors. He was able to draw from his own experience working as a greeter at Walmart.
When Monteith arrived on the Halifax, Nova Scotia set for the four-week shoot (he would fly to New York or Los Angeles during his downtime to do promotional work for Glee), he introduced himself to everyone.
"He really bonded with everybody and he was always grinning and smiling and he made for a very fun set.," Whalen said, adding, "He was an inspiration to a lot of our actors and a couple in particular that once they worked with him, they were inspired to keep going with acting because of what Cory talked to them about. Everybody that he met, he inspired."
And then there were his fans.
"There would be 30 to 40 people waiting at the end of the street where we were filming and he would always, at the end of the shoot, take the time to go and meet with them and talk to them," Whalen said. "He never never begrudged that."
All the Wrong Reasons will be dedicated to Monteith, Whalen said.
"My heart is broken," the movie's Kevin Zegers tweeted after hearing about Monteith's death. "I've never lost a friend this close. This feels like a mistake."
It certainly does.