NEW YORK—Cory Monteith tries to be a regular guy, despite his success with "Glee."
The 28-year-old plays Finn Hudson, a lovable dope who is the quarterback on his high school football team, on the hit Fox series. Finn also has a good voice and sings in the school's show choir, and he consistently finds himself being pulled in both directions: Is he a jock or a creative? Can't he be both? High school isn't that simple.
While his character is unsure about where he stands, Monteith himself wavers between being on a Golden Globe winning TV show and a kid from Canada who loves to perform. Can't he be both? He hopes so.
Monteith grew up with his single mother and older brother in Victoria, British Columbia. Before "Glee" he had some acting experience but not much. He had a recurring role on the show "Kyle XY" which aired on ABC Family and lived in Vancouver acting in various local productions.
Cory moved to Los Angeles when he scored a role on "Glee." He now lives in a house in Los Angeles with four roommates and is the only actor in the group.
"That was something I was really careful about," he explains over lunch at an Italian restaurant in Gramercy Park. "There are those 'actor houses,' believe me. I won't name names, but there are quads of those actors that sort of roll in groups. It's not my thing."
He goes on to describe his living situation as "like 'Entourage' without the debauchery" and then adds, "I mean that."
Monteith wouldn't mind a little debauchery now and then or, as he describes it, being "a young, single guy with my friends at 3 a.m.," but he just doesn't have time for it. The show keeps him really busy. He also jokes that there's a "lack of potted plants sealing off the deck" -- his private life could become very public.
Overall, Monteith isn't too worried about his image.
"It's not like I'm living double lives as a secret agent or a transvestite. What are they gonna find? If I were dating someone or if I had a family life, that could be a little difficult. That's not the case. I'm kind of boring for the press or the paparazzi."
Beyond "Glee," Monteith wants to do more but isn't in a rush to take on projects just because he can. They need to feel right. He has a record deal but is waiting to find the right direction to take it in.
"If it seems genuine, I'll put out an album. I kind of want to find my voice first. ... I hope the opportunity is still there when that comes."
Monteith may not want to get ahead of himself but his co-stars have confidence in his abilities.
"Working with Cory is such a joy. He is committed, focused and so much fun. His story to success is so inspirational, he truly deserves all of this," says co-star Lea Michele.
Matthew Morrison plays a teacher on "Glee" and compares watching Monteith to watching a real student.
"If I were to give ... a 'most improved,' it would go to Cory. He wasn't a singer. Definitely wasn't a dancer. To see where he's come, I feel like such a proud teacher ... or almost like a proud parent. It's crazy," says Morrison. "Cory's amazing. He picks up dance so fast now and he's definitely the most improved out of everyone in my opinion."
If Monteith is like a student he's trying to learn as much as possible about production.
"I soak up everything I can. ... I pay attention to the shot. I pay attention to the lighting because that's the stuff that doesn't come naturally. The technical side -- that's a film school I haven't signed up for."
If "Glee" were to be canceled tomorrow, Monteith says he would be OK.
"I've never been afraid of working. I've never been afraid of auditioning for jobs. Obviously, I've never been afraid of anonymity. I was happy (before 'Glee'). I'm happy now. I guess I'm well adjusted."