Vanessa Lengies on Her New Glee Character, Working with the Cast, and Keeping Her Storyline a SecretTuesday, September 20, 2011
If Vanessa Lengies walks past you on a red carpet without speaking to you, it’s not because the 26-year-old Canadian actress — best known from Hawthorne and American Dreams — has now “made it” and is above giving interviews. Lengies, who is a serious contender for sweetest girl in Hollywood, has simply learned the hard way that when you work on television’s most guarded show, sometimes it’s easier not to say anything at all.
“If I could tell you exactly what was going to happen, that would be great because that's what hundreds of thousands of people want to hear,” says Lengies in an exclusive interview with Wetpaint Entertainment. “But I don't know anything. It's almost as if I feel guilty. I aim to please.”
As Glee returns for its third season, we got the scoop on Lengies’ new character, Sugar Motta, the premiere episode, and what it’s like to be part of a show that everyone wants a piece of.
What can you say about the first episode of Season 3?
Vanessa Lengies: In the first episode they need to get people hyped up about the Glee club, and they need more Glee members. My character is introduced, and she comes in with attitude. She's trying to make her mark. She wants to be part of the Glee club, so it's what we think is perfect, until of course, she opens her mouth, and then hilarity ensues. I think it's going to be really funny. I hope that all the Gleeks find it funny, and love the character. I really love playing this character that they've written for me.
Is she a transplant from another school?
In the backstory that I have in my head, she's been home-schooled somewhere else, her dad is really rich, and she wants to be a famous singer. So he's going to buy his little girl into her dreams whatever way he can. So that's my personal backstory. But yeah, she comes to this school for sure. In my mind, I don't think she's gone to McKinley High before.
Who do you get to interact with?
I’ve had scenes so far with Santana and Brittany, and I had a scene with Matthew Morrison. I had a scene with the principal and the guy who plays my dad. In the scene where I auditioned for the Glee club, the entire cast is there.
Does Sugar come between Santana and Brittany?
So far, no. And I hope not. I hope that Sugar doesn't get in between Brittany and Santana because — what do they call them? The Brittana fans? Or Santittany? Or all of the above? It's so cute.
Do you know how long your arc is, or is it like everything else on Glee where we'll know when we know?
So far, I'm in three episodes, and we're only on the fourth episode. So I don't know what that means. I feel really lucky to be a part of it all. I just go in and do my best and hope that they like it. Most importantly, I am having a blast. Working with Eric Stoltz has been amazing on that premiere episode. I mean, he was so much fun to work with, such a good actor’s director, and what seems to be like a crew's director as well. He and I got to play with Sugar Motta because she was only what was written in the lines, and we got to make this whole character around her. And it was really, really — as an actor — fun for me to do with such a good director.
Do you see Sugar as a long-term character?
I totally do. She is so funny. The greatest thing about her is that she has self-diagnosed Aspergers, so she thinks she's socially allowed to say whatever she wants, which is lovely because you can basically write her to say whatever. She's not tied down, so I definitely can see the character being a part of Glee for a long while. But I can't say that with any official power.
Have you done a project like Glee before where everybody wants to know everything, and you can't say anything?
No, I have never. I'm imagining this is what it's like to be on a reality show because they’re filmed so far in advance from their airdates, and obviously those kind of shows survive and thrive on the suspense of what's going to happen. But I've never been on a television show like that. Definitely most of the shows I've been on, as an actor, you know ahead of time what your character's about to get into. With Glee, everything is on lockdown.
How did the whole thing come about?
I was actually throwing a dinner party on a Sunday, and my manager called me and said I have an audition. And I was like, ‘I can't. Sorry.’ And she said, ‘It’s for Glee, if that makes a difference.’ So I was all nervous to begin with, for the audition.
[The director of the Season 3 premiere] Eric Stoltz was in the audition room and was great and ran it through with me like three times. At the end of the audition, he was like, ‘You know, we don't really know what we want this character to be. We want to thank you for coming out and playing around with it.’ And I was like, ‘Great. Thanks for having me.’ And I rushed back home and served dinner.
On Thursday, my manager said, ‘They really liked your audition,’ and then I got off the phone with her and my phone buzzed, and it was Twitter. Somebody tweeted, ‘Oh my God, you're going to be on Glee. That's so great.’ I was like, ‘What?’ And I looked at the message at the end, and it was Michael Ausiello’s tweet that I had joined the cast of Glee. I called my manager back, and I was like, ‘Wait a second, you just said they liked me. What's the real story here?’ She said, ‘Nothing's official yet,’ because I was still working on Hawthorne. So I was nervous because I didn't want to have to tell anybody that it wasn't true!
The next day, Friday, it was official, so it was all good. Then I could finally celebrate and relax.
What is it like to join that cast?
It's been a ride. The cast has been really welcoming. I’ve known Cory [Monteith] for a long time. He was very sweet and very excited to see me on set, so that made me feel a little bit at home. The crew has been really nice as well. Everyone understands what it's like to be a part of Glee. Not only are the actors asked for information that they maybe can't provide or shouldn't provide, but this entire crew has that problem too. I mean, Glee is its own phenomenon, and I think it’s beautiful and amazing. I love it that this happens for a scripted show because I feel like usually this happens for reality television. I feel really grateful to be a part of it.