Lea Michele got candid during her first TV interview since the July 13 death of her boyfriend, Cory Monteith. The "Cannonball" singer appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show on Thursday, Dec. 12, where she opened up about life after loss and how she's keeping the late Glee actor's memory alive.
Michele said she's doing "well" five months after Monteith was found dead in his Vancouver hotel room. "It's certainly been a pretty rough year, but I've been surrounded by such great people, such great family," the actress said. In fact, Michele's parents have since relocated from New York to L.A.
The TV star then explained how Glee guest star (and falsely alleged rival) Kate Hudson came to her rescue after Monteith's passing. "All those rumors were so weird. And we were even calling each other being like, ‘This is so crazy!' It's so unbelievable what people can make up. Ninety percent of the stuff you read is completely fabricated, most of it. And she was so wonderful to basically give me her home to myself and my family," Michele said. "It was so helpful to just basically have a safe place to process and just have a minute to just breathe before getting back to my house, which just has a lot of memories and stuff, so being some place else to just have a moment was really nice."
She added, "To have that time at her home to just really be in private with this for a moment before getting back to work and before going home, I'm just so thankful to her."
Michele admitted that it's been "pretty intense" having the paparazzi follow her as she grieves. "If you smile it's like, ‘She's so happy!' and if you look sad, they're like, ‘She's terrible.' It's just really hard."
Glee co-creator Ryan Murphy visited Michele at Hudson's home in July and told her production would begin only when she was ready. "I said, 'I have to go back to work,'" Michele recalled. "They're my family. What people also don't understand is that going to work is no harder than being at home and being in the house and opening up a closet and seeing a pair of shoes. There's this is grief goes with you everyday [with] whatever you're doing—when there are great moments, when there are hard moments—so I'd rather be at work with the people who I love that are going through it."
"It obviously has it's own triggers, but at the end of the day, I feel so safe there," she continued. "And like I said, they're my family."
The passage of time has made Monteith's death somewhat easier on Michele, though the Broadway vet is still in mourning. "I really feel like I'm still trying to figure out all of this. It's been only a few months, but my mom has experienced a lot of loss in her life and she told me at one point, there is an empowerment that comes with grief—at some point you find it. It's very hard but you will find it, and I think at a certain point you can choose to sort of fall from this or you can choose to rise. And that's what I'm just trying to do my best for him, because I know that that's what he would have.
Michele said she hopes to "make something positive for where I go in the rest of my life."
That includes finishing production on the fifth season of Glee and promoting her forthcoming debut album. "I finished it in June," she said of Louder. "It was supposed to come out this summer but it got postponed. But I'm really happy because Cory got to hear all but two songs on the record and he had notes all the time when I would come home and play him a song. We would sit in the car and listen to it because it had the best sound system."
"After everything happened I met with Sia, who's incredible, and she said, 'Do you want to write anything about this?' And, I think one of the hardest things is the feeling like your going to forget everything, so I felt it was important to just take a moment to see what we could come up with. We came up with a beautiful song called 'If You Say So' that I wrote about Cory. Then in that same meeting she said to me, 'But how are you feeling in this moment right now?' I explained to her you know how grief really just...you can get sucked into it. You can literally lose yourself if you don't actually die from it, you can lose yourself completely. And I said to her, 'I need to get out. I need to get out of my house. He would want me to live my life. I have to do this.' She said, 'Oh, that's so crazy cause I wrote this song, it's called "Cannonball," and you just said the lyrics.' She played it for me, and the minute I heard the song, it lifted me up. It picked me up from everything."