Cory Monteith Explained Why He Turned to Drugs and Alcohol

Glee actor Cory Monteith died of an apparent drug overdose in 2013 at the age of 31. The star broke out in the popular FOX musical drama for his role as Finn Hudson. The first in a series of scandals involving the Glee cast, Monteith’s death resonated with fans. Read about Cory Monteith’s cause of death, and how he ended up misusing substances.

Cory Monteith had a difficult childhood

Cory Monteith
Actor Cory Monteith arrives at the Premiere Of Twentieth Century Fox’s “Glee The 3D Concert Movie” at the Regency Village Theater on August 6, 2011 in Westwood, California. | Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Monteith’s early life led to his troubles. He explained the difficulties of his “renegade teenage lifestyle” to GQ in 2010, including how he dropped out of high school. “I was industrious,” Monteith explained. “Skipping school. Drinking. All that kind of crap. Things started off innocent like that. I denitely found myself in some places that I’m very fortunate I came back from.”

Glee creator Ryan Murphy sensed this when he cast Monteith in the role that made him famous. “He was someone that you just instinctively wanted to protect because you felt like he was a fatherless child, and after a very hard childhood he felt adrift in the world,” the producer told The Hollywood Reporter in 2013.

Why he turned to substances

During a 2011 interview with George Stroumboulopoulos, Monteith discussed why he was being so open about his past. “I’ve lived a league of lives,” Monteith explained. He also spoke about reconnecting with his father after Glee Season 1. “People have always made a lot of assumptions [about me],” he said of his Finn Hudson persona.

“I felt like I had to step in at some point and relate to people my experience and relate to people the truth of my life and where I come from,” Monteith continued. “If I can, thought my experience, shed light on the way out of a difficult situation that I know many kids are experiencing, just like I did when I was a teenager.”

The actor also explained why he fell into addiction. “For me it wasn’t so much about the substances. It was more about not fitting in.” He took on the “bad kid” persona to attract friends. “It was just influences from watching people around me,” Monteith added. “And it was from lack of not really having a self-image at the time.”

How did Cory Monteith die?

Cory Monteith died in 2013. At the time, he was still part of the Glee cast. The actor took a break at the end of the fourth season to go to rehab, with Murphy and co-star (and then-girlfriend) Lea Michele “trying to get him better,” Murphy told THR.

The show then paid tribute to Monteith and Finn Hudson. “The right thing to do for the show, at least at this point, is to have that character pass,” Murphy added. “If we can do this responsibly and help young people through these feelings, that’s the best that we can hope for.”

Monteith had said all he wanted out of his TV experience was to inspire kids to reach for their dreams. “If I can inspire kids to do what they love to do, and follow their dreams and follow their passions, that’s the highest calling.”

How to get help: In the U.S., contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration helpline at 1-800-662-4357.