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Glee Gets Gwyneth

Series creator Ryan Murphy discusses working with Oscar winner Gwyneth Paltrow on the November 16 episode. logo
Gwyneth Paltrow, Amber Riley, and Heather Morris in Glee
(© Adam Rose/FOX)
It's not unusual to see big Broadway names such as Kristin Chenoweth or Idina Menzel singing and dancing on the hit series Glee, but this Tuesday , the show gets a little dose of Hollywood glamour when Oscar winner Gwyneth Paltrow belts out a ballad, struts in high heels and dances in the rain.

All it took was creator Ryan Murphy -- an old friend of Paltrow -- to deliver his personal invitation to the actress to play a substitute teacher on the show. "I was a little shocked, because you don't usually get someone of her stature to do television,' he says.

"I think because she's such a great dramatic actress and she has an Oscar and she's good with accents, people think that she's sort of an elite, really serious person, and she's not. In fact, I wanted her to do something light and funny and just oddball. In one scene she puts on a Mary Todd Lincoln outfit and acts like she's bipolar, talking to a teapot. To get her to do fun things like that was really a privilege."

Murphy, who directed the episode and chose all her songs, wanted to showcase his friend in a contemporary way. "You would expect Gwyneth to sing a Shakespearean sonnet or something," he jokes. "Instead, her first big number is Cee-Lo's 'Forget You,' which is a male song that she covers in a very female way. And Gwyneth really sells the comedy of it," he explains.

She also does a mash-up of "Singing in the Rain" and Rihanna's "Umbrella" with Morrison's character, Will Schuester. "We completely brought in rain, and she danced around with an umbrella and got soaking wet, and smelled like wet dog, as everyone did because they were in wool costumes, he notes. "I think we shot that number for almost 8 hours."

Although Paltrow brought a bit of Hollywood stardom to the set, she never acted Hollywood. "Sometimes when you do a show like this and you have a really big name come in and do the lines and flee to their huge trailer," Murphy says. "She was not like that. She came and hung out with the crew, She would sit around and talk and really get to know them and ask them about their babies and their wives and their husbands. She was a very beloved creature by the end of that shoot."

Moreover, she made her mark on the show's young cast. "She was a great inspiration to the kids on the show, because she showed up and she was ready to go. You sort of had to work to keep up with her," he says."They did. It was good."

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