Two days before he was found dead in a Vancouver hotel room, Glee star Cory Monteith had dinner with friends and was excited about helping raise money for a free performing arts program for kids living in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
"We had lots of laughs and we got a chance to really catch up and I was able to tell him how much he meant to Project Limelight," program co-founder Maureen Webb told CBC News.
"We talked about old times and he seemed very positive ... It was really a positive experience."
Monteith, 31, was found dead by staff at the Fairmont Pacific Rim on Saturday afternoon when he failed to check out of the hotel.
On Tuesday, the B.C. Coroners service confirmed Monteith died from a mix of heroin and alcohol in his body. Because he died while alone in his hotel room, there is no further criminal investigation underway, said Vancouver police.
‘An incredible charm’
On Thursday, Monteith had dinner with Webb and his long-time manager Elena Kirschner at a Vancouver cafe. Webb says the actor had just returned from hiking the Juan de Fuca trail on Vancouver Island, and spoke of his love for Vancouver.
Monteith has described Webb as being instrumental in connecting him with the people who ultimately helped launch his acting career.
"I don’t think he’d ever acted or anything before [we met]," Webb said. "He was more of a musician and was working and just had an interest in getting into [acting] and I was sort of the opportunity that popped into his life."
"I’m not sure I necessarily saw anything [more] in him than I would see in any other young person that wants to do it ... But certainly he was a handsome young man and had an incredible charm.
"I haven’t seen much change in him since then. He was very positive, passionate, sensitive and had the right qualities of somebody who might want to be a performer, but beyond that [he] was an incredibly hard worker ... What I saw was a kid who put a lot of work into things and worked many jobs at once and did whatever it took."
Struggled with addiction
Monteith met Webb in Nanaimo, B.C., when he was just 19 years old, and was a huge supporter of Project Limelight from its inception.
"When we first started the program, I sat down with him and his manager ... and we talked about the type of program we wanted to have," Webb said.
"He ... had his own experiences with how the performing arts helped, so he was one of the first people I talked to about this and we designed the program, knowing that we wanted it to be a free program for children in the Downtown Eastside, with his input.
"We both came from single-parent families and, dare I say, humble beginnings... I certainly had my share of problems as a teenager, and for both of us the performing arts really had an impact in our lives ... It didn’t matter what [the children's] background was, it didn’t matter what their financial circumstances were, it was going to be free for everybody and nobody had to audition to get in and everybody got a part."
In a 2011 interview with Parade magazine, Monteith spoke candidly about struggling with addiction as a teenager, saying he was "lucky to be alive."
The same year, Monteith told CBC's George Stroumboulopoulos how the arts helped him though those difficult times — and why he discussed them publicly.
- Canadian Glee star Cory Monteith enters rehab
- Monteith talks to CBC's George Stroumboulopoulos about his troubled past
"What I'm trying to do now with this whole 'I had a hard time' thing," said Monteith, is to tell people with similar difficulties "find something that inspires you, find something that you can get excited about, and that will become your new direction."
Planning to direct video for fundraiser
When asked if Monteith appeared to be struggling with any similar issues at dinner on Thursday, Webb replied, "Absolutely not," adding he was excitedly planning to help with an upcoming Project Limelight fundraiser.
"We were talking about we wanted to do maybe sort of a crowd-funding video ... I said, ‘Would you ever be interested in directing a video?’ and he was really excited about that, so we were brainstorming ideas ... we had some laughs and he had some different ideas for what he could do for directing," Webb said.
"He was always very generous is knowing how he could help, how he could use his notoriety to attract attention and we were coming up with ways that that could benefit Project Limelight."
Webb said Monteith once helped facilitate a meeting with Richard Branson, who donated $26,500 to Project Limelight.
"That helped with our credibility in the charity world and meant a lot to us," she said.
"We work on a really, really low budget and we stretched that out for, I think, a year and Cory came to the press conference ... He knew where he could best help us and bring the attention to us."
Project Limelight and two other organizations — Virgin Unite and Chrysalis — have been chosen by Monteith’s friends and family to receive donations in his memory.