Attention all Gleeks! Melissa Benoist, who plays Marley Rose on the Fox musical comedy, has a very important announcement.
“Some people tweeted me that they thought she was dead, but she is not dead,” Benoist tells TVGuide.com. “She is alive.”
Phew! But just because the glee club newbie survived a fainting spell brought on by her eating disorder during Sectionals, her battle is far from over. Not only will Marley have to start taking better care of herself — physically and emotionally — but she’ll also have to work to win New Directions over after jeopardizing their shot at Regionals. Benoist talked to TVGuide.com about Marley’s road to recovery, her research for the “daunting” storyline and the possibility of another Glee tour.
When did the writers first tell you that Marley was going to have such a dramatic story?
Benoist: The first week of work, [creator Ryan Murphy] brought Jacob [Artist] and I into his office and [was] just talking with us about what his vision was for the characters. He said, ‘I’m really thinking about Marley having an eating disorder and dealing with bulimia. It definitely was a daunting thing to hear, but in the best way. As an actor, you can only hope for something with that much depth and something to dig into that much.
What was your first reaction when you read the script and saw that this story line would go that far?
Melissa Benoist: I had an inkling. I knew that something drastic needed to happen to knock some sense into Marley or to make her realize that what she was doing was extremely damaging to her psyche and to her physical well-being.
Where does the next episode pick up and what are the next steps for Marley?
Benoist: She’s at this point where she can wipe the slate clean, really. It’s at this point now where she needs to rebuild in a certain sense.
Is there a person in particular who will help her through this?
Benoist: Obviously, her mom is going to be a huge part of her recovery and there’s therapy. [It’s] just her being very open and honest about it from this point. But it’s definitely not over.
Kitty was kind of the one who originally put these thoughts about weight into Marley’s head. What’s next for their relationship?
Benoist: It will be a slow process for them to gain trust, but luckily, there is some forgiveness and a breakthrough in a sense for the two of them. I had a lot of fun working with Becca Tobin in the next episode. Marley and Kitty have some great moments.
So far, it’s been hard for viewers to warm up to Kitty. Do you think there’s hope that she can be redeemed?
Benoist: I definitely think so. We keep saying that something had to have happened to Kitty for her to make the decisions that she has and say the things that she does. … I think there is something going on that we might see in the future with Kitty. In this next episode, you’ll see a softer side to her and Becca does a wonderful job portraying that.
How will the rest of New Directions handle the incident?
Benoist: It’s an interesting dynamic. I think there are some characters who just want her to be better, but she really put the well-being of New Directions in peril. She didn’t mean any harm, of course. She just wanted to win so bad and put so much pressure on herself. There are some kids in the glee club who are not too happy with her.
How will she deal with those new dynamics?
Benoist: I think she will learn a lot from her mistakes and it will be easier for her to take it in stride. At the same time, it gives her a lot of determination to prove herself again and really make everyone see just how much she cares about the glee club. Everything she did, she did out of love for all of her new friends and the club. In this next episode, Marley interacts quite a bit with Finn because she really feels the need to show her devotion to glee club and they collaborate together.
How was it working with Cory Monteith in the episode?
Benoist: It was an interesting dynamic. Ryan Murphy tweeted a picture of us together on set that day and he said “old school/new school.” It definitely felt that way.
Have you been able to go to him or anyone else in particular from the original cast for advice?
Benoist: Everyone’s been really great about sharing their experiences for the past couple of years, and about making Becca, Jacob, Blake [Jenner] and I feel included and feel safe and comfortable in this new atmosphere that’s so different and difficult at times. One day, I sat down and had a really long conversation with Kevin McHale about the tour and his experiences on that. It’s fun to hear about everything they’ve gone through.
Murphy has expressed interest in touring. Is the cast definitely going on tour this summer?
Benoist: We don’t know for sure as of now, but all of us new kids keep talking about how much fun we think it would be. If there a tour, I would be on it in a heartbeat.
How has it been handling the fame so far?
Benoist: I’ve only been approached a handful of times, so it hasn’t been crazy the way it is for some of the other people on the show. But that’s kind of nice. I cherish my anonymity, so that’s been good. On Twitter, it’s great. I really enjoy interacting with the fans and seeing what they have to say. Last week for the “Thanksgiving” episode, everyone was tweeting me and asking me if I’m alright.
Have you heard from people who have suffered from eating disorders?
Benoist: I definitely have. It’s been really reassuring and nice to hear that a lot of girls have been inspired and have been so grateful to see their story brought to life and portrayed on a show that so many people watch. I hope that gives them hope. I hope that girls can learn from what Marley goes through.
What kind of research did you do before shooting?
Benoist: I read some blogs of girls who were very open and vocal about their disorders on Tumblr. It’s very odd. For something that is such a private thing that most girls in their daily lives really try to hide like Marley did, on the Internet there are some people who use their blogs as diaries almost. It was weird because I felt like I was invading someone’s privacy and reading something I shouldn’t see. But it gave me a lot of insight as to what they were really feeling and their motives as to why they were hurting themselves so much.
After this heavy storyline, are there lighter moments ahead for Marley?
Beniost: From here, things are uphill here for her. Her fainting was the kind of the drastic climax that she needed to go through to realize just how much she was hurting herself. Now, I think that she is just going to purely focus on getting better and being her best self and loving herself a lot more than she has been and not focusing so much on everyone else and the needs of everyone else. So there will be some lighter moments. It’s not going to be easy, but she’s on her way up.
Glee airs Thursdays at 9/8c on Fox.