A flickering light, beaming with talent, has gone out.
Cory Monteith, star of the Fox television series Glee, was found dead on Saturday at the Fairmont Pacific Rim hotel in Vancouver, Canada. He was 31. According to Vancouver police, Monteith’s body was discovered at noon on Saturday in his 21st-floor hotel room. When the actor missed his checkout time, hotel staff reportedly paid a visit to his room and found him. The cause of death is still to be determined, although USA Today reported that rumors of a drug overdose have surfaced.
“An autopsy is scheduled for Monday,” said Vancouver Police Chief Doug Lepard. “The coroner will be determining the next steps with respect to establishing the cause of death, but all indications are that there was no foul play.”
Monteith, best known for his portrayal of Finn Hudson, a star high school quarterback-cum-glee club member on the hit TV show Glee, struggled for years with drug addiction.
In late March, the actor voluntarily checked into a rehab facility for substance addiction, and was released on April 28.
“I love and support Cory and will stand by him through this,” his girlfriend and Glee co-star, Lea Michele, told People at the time. “I am grateful and proud he made this decision.”
The couple, who have been dating since February 2012, appeared happy and healthy during their last public appearance at the 12th annual Chrysalis Butterfly Ball in Los Angeles on June 8. And Monteith even weighed in on the outrageous SyFy film SharkNado on July 12th via Twitter—his last tweet.
Monteith was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, to interior decorator Ann McGregor and military infantryman Joe Monteith. His parents split when he was 7, and Monteith and his older brother, Shaun, were raised by his mother in Victoria, British Columbia.
In a candid interview with Parade published on June 24, 2011, Monteith opened up about his troubled childhood and history of substance abuse.
“I’m lucky on so many counts—I’m lucky to be alive,” he said.
According to Parade, Monteith was once an immensely skilled student who, at just 5 years old, read at a fourth-grade level. But the actor felt like an outsider, and by 13, was ditching school to smoke pot and drink. When he finally dropped out of school at 16, he had attended 12 different schools, including an alternative one for at-risk teens, and his drug use had spiraled out of control.
“[I did] anything and everything, as much as possible,” he told Parade. “I had a serious problem.”
With his life at risk, his mother and friends staged an intervention on Monteith when he was 19. The teenager went to rehab, and then went right back to using—until he had an epiphany. He admitted to stealing “a significant amount of money from a family member,” and was ordered to clean up his act or serve the jail time.
“I finally said, ‘I’m gonna start looking at my life and figure out why I’m doing this,’” he said.
Monteith moved in with a family friend, kicked his drug habit, and worked a series of odd jobs, including as a roofer, Walmart greeter, and school-bus driver. He eventually began working with an acting coach and landed minor roles in the films Deck the Halls and Final Destination 3, as well as a seven-episode arc on the TV series Kyle XY. His big break came when he was cast as Finn on Ryan Murphy's musical-comedy TV series Glee. In order to win the role, he submitted a videotape of himself singing REO Speedwagon’s “Can’t Fight This Feeling,” and later wowed casting directors during an in-person audition. The series debuted in 2009, and he appeared on the show up until the present, with the cast winning the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series in 2009, and Monteith taking home Choice TV: Actor Comedy at the 2011 Teen Choice Awards. He also received a nomination for Favorite TV Comedy Actor at the 2012 People’s Choice Awards.
In addition to TV work, Monteith appeared in the 2011 movie Monte Carlo opposite Selena Gomez, as well as Glee: The 3D Concert Movie. He currently has two movies in postproduction: Gia Milani’s ensemble comedy-drama All the Wrong Reasons, alongside Kevin Zegers, and McCanick, a mystery flick also starring Mike Vogel, Rachel Nichols, and Ciarán Hinds.
And Monteith was also a vocal proponent for gay rights, filming a PSA in 2011 for the LGBT organization Straight but Not Narrow, saying, “Just be you … because that’s good enough for me,” and also co-hosting the 23rd GLAAD Media Awards with his Glee co-star Naya Rivera.
“I don’t want kids to think it’s OK to drop out of school and get high, and they’ll be famous actors, too,” he told Parade of his past troubles. “But for those people who might give up: Get real about what you want and go after it. If I can, anyone can.”