Cory Monteith

Josh C. Waller says that Cory Monteith didn't outwardly say that it was "a cathartic experience" to play a drug-addicted street hustler in his upcoming film McCanick.

"But you could sense it," Waller, who directed Monteith in what turned out to be his final role, told the Los Angeles Times following the sudden death of the 31-year-old Glee star on Saturday.

"In my mind, I was envisioning a teeny little drug guy, but Cory Monteith is this tall, strapping man," the filmmaker recalled. "But when I met with him, he wanted to do it so badly...He was very vocal about his past, and said he wanted to tap into things from his youth that he hadn't been able to use as an actor yet."

Monteith has spoken frankly about his battles with substance abuse, and he had just finished a course of rehab in April.

"I'm lucky on so many counts—I'm lucky to be alive," he said in Parade last month. When he was a teenager, he would take "anything and everything, as much as possible. I had a serious problem." 

"I stole a significant amount of money from a family member," Monteith told the magazine. "I knew I was going to get caught but I was so desperate I didn't care. It was a cry for help. I was confronted and I said, 'Yeah, it was me.' It was the first honorable, truthful thing that had come out of my mouth in years."

No wonder Monteith felt he had a unique perspective to bring to McCanick.

Moreover, Waller said, the young actor was getting ready for a life beyond Glee, on which he had played jock and New Directions superstar Finn Hudson for four years.

"He was like, 'I know I can't be on that show forever, so I'm starting to prep myself for when it's not on anymore,'" Waller said. "With McCanick, he was starting that trajectory—like, 'Let me nip this in the bud right now.'"

Monteith was found dead in his room on the 21st floor of the Fairmont Pacific Rim hotel in downtown Vancouver. An autopsy was scheduled for today and results of a toxicology screening should be forthcoming later this week, according to officials, who said that they were fast-tracking the postmortem investigation due to "intense public interest" in the case.

"He was so down to earth, open, honest and vulnerable," Gia Milani, who directed Monteith in All the Wrong Reasons before he went to shoot McCanick, also told the L.A. Times yesterday.

"I was impressed with Cory's ability to embody my flawed character, and I am fiercely proud of Cory's performance," she said, noting that they watched the finished project together just a few weeks ago. "I am grateful I got to see him then. It doesn't feel real that he's gone."

Cory Monteith, Memorial

E! Entertainment

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