A new docu-series alleges that Cory Monteith, who tragically passed away in 2013, relapsed just weeks before his death due to his Glee co-star pressuring him to try drinking alcohol at a party. According to ID’s The Price of Glee, Monteith “resented” the idea of alcohol, but obliged with the go-ahead from his co-star which ultimately “took him on a path to destruction.”
The new series examines the deaths of Monteith, Naya Rivera, and Mark Salling, as well as the backlash against Lea Michele and domestic abuse accusations from Melissa Benoist against co-star Blake Jenner. In the first two episodes of the three-part documentary set to air next week, The Price of Glee unpacks Monteith’s untimely death with background stories from his roommate, friends, and other close acquaintances.
The biggest bombshell comes from Monteith’s hairdresser, Dugg Kirkpatrick, who worked in the hair department of Glee Season 3. He insinuates that an unnamed cast member may be responsible for Monteith’s relapse, which eventually resulted in his death.
Kirkpatrick says that after he departed from the show, most of the boys still visited him to get cuts—including Monteith, who scheduled an appointment with the stylist just a few weeks before his death.
“He was clean all the way up until he asked me for that haircut,” Kirkpatrick says. “He wasn’t drinking, he didn’t have any drugs in his system. But then, in the end, in the very last couple days that I saw him, he was different. He was under the influence of alcohol.”
Kirkpatrick says he was friends with Monteith after he left Glee, and that the actor would confide in him with struggles from time to time while he continued to shoot the Fox series. The last haircut, Kirkpatrick alleges, was one of the most troubling.
“He said he was at a party and hadn’t been drinking, and he wanted to have a drink, but he knew he shouldn’t,” he claims. “He was told by a certain cast member that night, ‘If you want to have a drink, you should have a drink. I’ll be here, you can trust that I’ll always be here.’”
The stylist goes on to suggest that this was a bad decision, a close acquaintance “would never say that to anyone who was sober,” and Monteith had just gotten out of rehab.
“That confused him and made him mad. But he did, he started drinking because he was given permission by somebody that he loved,” Kirkpatrick adds. “He resented it, but he also took the direction. It took him on a path to destruction.”
Just a few weeks later, Monteith was found dead at the Fairmont Pacific Rim hotel in Vancouver due to a “mixed drug toxicity” including heroin and alcohol, as well as codeine and morphine. Before he starred on Glee, Monteith had a history of substance abuse in his teenage years. He had been in rehab just four months before his death.
Kirkpatrick doesn’t name any names of the co-star who allegedly pushed Monteith to return to drinking.
He also discusses the stress of Michele’s relationship with Monteith. The co-stars reportedly began dating around 2012.
“I think Cory’s confusion had a lot to do with his relationship with Lea Michele,” Kirkpatrick says. “I don’t know that she was a friend. I think she was involved with him because he was on a TV show.”
But Monteith had other struggles at the time, including the fact that he wanted to expand his resume and star in movies, his roommate Justin Neill claims. The actor was “upset” because he had to turn them down due to Glee shoots and live concerts, though he was “sick and tired” of singing songs.
“I specifically remember this being after Season 2, where he wanted to enjoy some part of life, but he’s just non-stop going, going, going,” Neill says. “Cory seemed like he was getting more and more neurotic, and more isolated.”
Further, Monteith’s friend and fellow actor Stephen Kramer Glickman says that the Glee star confided in him as he was “stressed out about dancing” and “coming up to the level of other people that were on the show.” Glee director of photography Christopher Baffa also claims that the struggle to meet the demands of the show may have “exacerbated” the issue and led to Monteith’s relapse.
Glickman also shares his final email correspondence with Monteith, which leads him to further confusion surrounding his friend’s passing. “How have things been?” Glickman sent in an email to Monteith. “Life has been beyond real for me. Every day better than the last,” Monteith said in response. Then, Monteith died days later, confusing Glickman.
“My first reaction was blame,” Glickman says. “Who I blamed immediately was not him. I still feel like there’s someone to blame.”
The Price of Glee has faced backlash for its controversial premise leading into the so-called “curse” behind Ryan Murphy’s hit teen show. Main cast members like Kevin McHale and Jenna Ushkowitz (who now run a Glee podcast together) have slammed the series, calling it “trash” and telling viewers to “proceed with caution.” Though the series has interviews with folks involved with production, like stand-ins, dancers, and crew, no main cast or producers are involved with the show.
All three parts of The Price of Glee will premiere back-to-back on Jan. 16 at 9 p.m. ET on ID and will be available to stream the same day on Discovery+.
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