Before his sudden death this weekend, Glee star Cory Monteith had been eager to show a more mature side of himself in a new Canadian film, according to the director of the project.
"I'd only seen him a few weeks ago," filmmaker Gia Milani, who directed Monteith in the as-yet-unreleased drama All The Wrong Reasons, told CBC News Monday morning. [His death] is a shock, and the word shock doesn't seem deep enough. I'm floored."
The Calgary-born actor was found dead in his Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel room in Vancouver midday on Saturday. He was 31.
Acting Police Chief Doug LePard said there was no indication of foul play, and "the cause of death was not immediately apparent." Monteith's body was found by hotel staff after he missed his check-out time, LePard said.
"We do not have a great deal of information as to cause of death," B.C. Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe said, adding that further tests would be needed to determine how the actor died.
"The exact nature of those examinations will depend on investigative findings within the next day or two, as information is gathered from medical records and discussions with family take place," she said.
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A more serious turn
Canadian filmmaker Milani had travelled to Los Angeles a few weeks ago to show Monteith the final cut of All The Wrong Reasons, an ensemble drama in which he portrays a big box department store manager whose wife is struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder. The film co-stars Kevin Zegers, Emily Hampshire and Karine Vanasse.
"It was a pretty heavy role, very dramatic, very intense, quite a departure from [his Glee character] Finn," Milani said. "He was really excited to play it, partially because he could play his own age. He was really looking forward to showing another side of himself."
Milani praised Monteith's strong work ethic as well as his devotion to fans.
After shooting All The Wrong Reasons during the week, he would fly to Los Angeles on Friday night to fulfill Glee promotional work. He would then return to Halifax on a Sunday evening red-eye flight to be ready for the Canadian film's shoot to resume early Monday morning.
In Halifax, "we'd go to dinner and … every few minutes he would be interrupted — he wouldn't call it an interruption — but he'd be interrupted by a fan wanting a photograph or something," she said. "He was gracious every single time …. He was grateful for all of it.
"He was a nice person, a good person. He lived his life very well, I thought. I think he'd like to be remembered like that."
Aside from his work on Glee, Monteith had also recently appeared in Canadian Carl Bessai's 2011 film Sisters & Brothers and the 2011 Hollywood romantic comedy Monte Carlo.
Bessai noted that Monteith brought authenticity to his Sisters & Brothers role: a famous movie star at odds with his troubled brother (played by Dustin Milligan). The film required Monteith to improvise lines and make himself vulnerable onscreen just as his career was soaring, which took a lot of guts, said Bessai.
"The thing that really makes me sad is that ... I think he was on his way with the potential to be a really great actor," Bessai told The Canadian Press, noting he wanted to work with Monteith again on a couple of projects.
"But it takes time and it takes experiences and what I loved was you could tell he was up for the challenge...He wanted to have those experiences and now he won't. It's terrible because he had everything going for him."