'Glee' School Shooting: Jenna Ushkowitz Talks (Exclusive Interview)
[SPOILER ALERT - DO NOT CONTINUE READING UNLESS YOU'VE WATCHED THIS WEEK'S EPISODE]
Tonight’s Glee was definitely one of the riskiest, most heartfelt, serious episodes they’ve ever done.
The typically-upbeat members of New Directions were rocked to their core as shots were fired inside McKinley High, in an all-too-topical scenario.
Jenna Ushkowitz gave an especially stellar performance as Tina was the only glee club member not in the choir room with her friends during the horrific event.
JJ caught up with Jenna to talk about filming such an intense episode, as well as discuss Tina’s friendship with Blaine, Sue’s future on the show, the Catfish mystery, and what’s to come leading up to the finale.
Also, make sure to check back on Friday morning for an exclusive interview with Glee‘s Jacob Artist, who talks about Jake’s views on the situation.
Click inside to read our interview with Jenna Ushkowitz…
JustJared.com Interview – Jenna Ushkowitz
Just Jared: So what was your first reaction to reading the script for “Shooting Star”?
Jenna Ushkowitz: At first I was a little shocked that we were actually going to go there, because it’s just something that is very touchy as of late. I was nervous and excited all at the same time that we were actually going to do something so big and with such an impact on something so real.
JJ: Was there a lot of conversation on how Ryan [Murphy] wanted it done?
JU: I’m not really sure. Obviously, that goes with the director in their tone meetings. I’m sure that Ryan wanted to take very good care of it just because of the matter. Our director Bradley [Buecker] is amazing and he was very sensitive towards the whole thing and it was just a very, very heavy week of a lot of emotion.
JJ: What was the set like and how did you prepare for such an intense episode?
JU: It was a lot quieter. We were like, “Oh, this is what it’s like to be on a drama” (laughs). It’s a lot quieter. You know, everyone was sort of just sensitive toward the subject and very good with it. People were less jokey and we were obviously way more into dealing with it. It was a lot darker than the normal Glee set.
JJ: It must have been hard for them to balance the comedy and musical side of it, with having such a serious event go down.
JU: Definitely. When I read the script… there’s a lot going on in it. There’s a lot going on with “Catfish” and Ryder, and then also with the asteroid. And then with the whole shooting. And then there’s Lord Tubbington too, which is quite funny. Brittany’s whole thing is always funny. But, I think they cut it well together with the theme of our last words, where if you have something to say, you should say it. Basically, going along with “Say what you need to say.” But, I thought it was nicely themed to have the whole thing be tied in together. You know, I haven’t seen the episode yet, but with the tone of everything we shot, I think there’s a lot of ups and downs and it’s going to be an emotional roller coaster for a lot of viewers.
JJ: Tina isn’t in the choir room, but the shooting still has a profound impact on her because all of her friends are in there. How did you approach her whole situation?
JU: I wasn’t there when they shot the whole classroom scene and I think that helps because I obviously wasn’t there when Tina wasn’t there also. So just imagining what they were going through and then for Tina to be all alone by herself and not be with her best friend, it was really helpful to not have seen or heard anything about it because I heard it was really hard for them. Those kids are my family so in the last scene with Tina and Blaine, when she was saying, “I wanted to be there with you guys and you guys are my family,” it obviously rings true in real life as well.
JJ: Tina and Blaine recently got over that bump in their relationship and this episode really seemed to strengthen their bond. Would you agree with that?
JU: Yeah, it sort of solidifies the fact that they are past that whole weird vapor rub rape incident and that she’s sort of moved on and now it’s moved into just being best friends. Basically, what Kurt and Rachel sort of had. I’ve been in that position before as well, so you know, in high school you go through that. I sort of saw where the whole storyline was going after the vapor rub rape scene because I just know there was obviously no chance that Blaine was going to go for Tina. I was just like, “They’re just going to become friends, he’s not going to hate her for it.”
JJ: Speaking of the Ryder situation, we were bummed that there wasn’t a resolution in this episode. Can we expect one soon?
JU: Yeah, I would imagine by the finale, I would hope. We’re also very upset because no one has said anything about it. Nobody knows anything. So, it’s sort of frustrating and fun at the same time because we do know what is going to happen with Sue and all of that stuff, but this is sort of one huge mystery that every day we’re like “It’s you!,” “It must be you!” so placing the blame somewhere. I think they are going to sum it up in the final episode.
JJ: So who do you think is the prime suspect?
JU: I went with Unique at first. And I also thought it could have been Tina. But, I don’t know. It really could be anybody, seriously. [Ryder] went through blaming, obviously Marley and Jake, but it could still be one of them as well. I still haven’t counted anybody out.
JJ: We’ve been so impressed with Blake Jenner throughout the season. How has it been watching him grow as an actor?
JU: It’s wonderful. It’s sort of a gamble from a reality show. You never know. We’ve obviously lucked out with all of them. All of the kids who come on are extremely talented. To watch Blake Jenner have such a wonderful storyline to work with, he’s one of my favorite actors on the show, for sure. So, just to see something come from that… it’s really nice to be like, “This really did work and we ended up with someone who’s going to have a great career.”
JJ: We know you can’t say much about Sue taking the fall for Becky, but what does that mean for Jane Lynch and the show in general?
JU: I don’t even know. We’re working on three episodes right now and I don’t even know what is what. I think it was really heartfelt and I think it was the right thing for Sue Sylvester to do in terms of storyline. I think that it really redeemed her because obviously she’s so cold-hearted some times that people don’t feel like she’s actually a real person, but then this sort of brings that back around. In terms of storyline goes, I loved it because I thought it was definitely something that needed to be done. As for Jane Lynch’s character, I can’t see her going too far (laughs). So we will see.
JJ: We saw the news that the original Glee kids would be singing “Don’t Stop Believin’” again. What was it like filming that pilot throwback?
JU: It was sort of like a weird, nostalgic, emotional, fun… just to see the kids. We don’t all get to work together all that much anymore. So, to come back and in the same exact outfits and to see the number that sort of launched the pilot, it was really, really fun to do because we never thought that we’d be able to do that again. So, I was very excited to do that and it the context in which it was done was very nice and I’m excited to see it.
JJ: The assumption right now is that Tina will be graduating at the end of the season. Have you prepared yourself for that?
JU: Yeah, I always knew that this was her senior year like everyone else’s last year. I’m excited to see what happens, what will be, what won’t be. We have no idea where it is going. I know there is going to be a big cliffhanger at the end of this season. We haven’t gotten the script yet so we don’t even know. But yeah, I have prepared myself because as you know, nobody fully went away and I think it will be exciting. It will be a nice change.
Be sure to tune into Glee on Thursdays @ 9PM on Fox and check JustJared.com on Friday morning for our interview with Jacob Artist