Shirley MacLaine Talks 'Flamboyant' Glee Role -- Will She Come Between Kurt and Blaine?

Glee Shirley MacLaineTonight’s Glee (Fox, 8/7c) marks the arrival of Shirley MacLaine as June Dolloway, a wealthy New York socialite and major NYADA benefactor who takes a vested interest in Blaine’s career. But as MacLaine admits to TVLine, June’s involvement with Mr. Anderson might not be entirely pure.

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TVLine spoke with the big-screen legend about her two-episode arc, including which songs she’ll be performing and how she might prove to be yet another thorn in Klaine’s side.

TVLINE | Fox is really hyping up your episodes. I dare say you’re Glee‘s biggest guest yet. 
I don’t know if I’m the biggest guest, but I’m probably the slowest. [Laughs]

TVLINE | How did this come about? Were you a fan of the show?
The world is so small, and it all happened so fast. I’d seen the show, of course, over the last five years. God, I admire the talent of the kids. I don’t think they have enough time to contemplate the creativity of what’s going on. What are they going to do when this is over? Nothing moves this fast — except Malaysia Flight 370, maybe.

TVLINE | And who is June Dolloway? Give us a little intro.
She’s a very flamboyant socialite who is a tastemaker in Manhattan. She cherishes the talent that she finds. She thinks the ones she likes should be stars, and she’s very smart. She’s had three husbands and has a great wardrobe, which is one of the reasons I’m doing it — saves me shopping. But she also feels the need to perform, herself. You can’t keep her off the stage.

TVLINE | How was working with Darren Criss?
Oh, he’s terrific. He really is. Darling guy. Very talented man.

TVLINE | I know you sing [Janis Joplin's "Piece of My Heart"] with him. Any more songs?
Yes, I’m going to sing a song from Pippin next week.

TVLINE | Does June have any ulterior motives in working with Blaine?
You know, I’ve tried to figure this out. She’s 80 years old, and here’s this 27-year-old kid that she’s taking under her wing; I have to ask, “How far under does it go?” I haven’t gotten time to ask that question, but it is in my heart and in my mind.

Glee Shirley MacLaineTVLINE | How does Kurt feel about June taking Blaine under her wing, however far under that may be?
Well, she only wants [Blaine] to be the star, and the man that he’s in love with, Blaine wants him to be part of what June is doing. And that’s another thing; I was very interested in the genderfication of the set. It’s so wonderfully homogenized. You don’t know who’s gay, who’s straight, who’s transitioning — all this wonderful stuff that the young people are experimenting with.

TVLINE | Quite the shift from your experience on Downton Abbey.
[Laughs] You think? And that’s really it. Those are the two polarities, to go from Downton Abbey to Glee is really terrific. Oh my God, I love that I’m doing that.

TVLINE | Lastly, what is it about doing Glee that you just couldn’t pass up?
I wanted to be in that musical environment. Where else can you do that for two weeks? I didn’t understand how they did the computerized overlapping, so I wanted to see how that worked with the human soul. How does it work when a computer decides what your key should be? You know, Stanley Kubrick was right. This is all another kind of futuristic planet to me.

Hit PLAY on our behind-the-scenes video below, then drop a comment: Are you jonesin’ for some June?

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53 Comments
  1. Stormy says:

    Bring on the auto tune and a brigade of sound engineers. On Downton Abbey her voice sounds like a bass in a barbershop quartet. Not optimistic about this.

    • Lili says:

      I am not impressed by her work on Downton Abbey. I expected *way* more from her and Paul Giamatti. But what a waste of screen time. I would prefer to watch more scenes with Daisy and Mrs. Patimore at the kitchen.

      She is *definetely* not Glee’s biggest guest. I may be wrong, but I don’t think any other guest star is more famous than Britney Spears. I guess Neil Patrick Harris is second, given the success of HIMYM. And… Demi Lovato third? Gwyneth Paltrow? Whoopi Goldberg? This is silly.

      My favorite is Carol Burnett as Sue’s mom and Helen Mirren as Becki’s inner voice.

      • Lili says:

        *definitely

      • H says:

        Britney, Gwyneth and Whoopi may be in her league, but Shirley MacLaine is definitely a bigger star that Harris and Lovato.

      • teresainpa says:

        OMG, you kids are hopelessly confused. Shirley McClain is a huge screen legend. You think Britney Spears is a bigger star? No. Go to the IMDB and look McClain up. Educate yourselves. She may be past her prime and she may even be having some trouble with her voice, no one sings that well at her age. But at this point you pay them respect for still getting out there and doing it. She has presence and timing that most younger actors will never have because they will never ever have her career. She is a triple threat, sings dances and acts and does all three well enough to win the big awards for Broadway, TV and Movies.
        Get serious.

        • Kachito says:

          Her last name is McLaine and not McClain … so who is confused now? Anyway, I agree with you she is the Grand Diva and you need to be old and have a lot of mileage to be a Diva, a term that is very misused these days. Shirley is one of the few living legends left. She has had a great career and a great life and she is still kicking at 80.

  2. Aries says:

    Wow – this is going to be fantastic!

  3. sam says:

    No thanks

  4. ohsw says:

    This is the second offensive comment she’s made about LGBTQ people in less than a day. I don’t care if she’s 80yrs old, she obviously needs some education on the subject. Just like the other comment she made though I’m sure people will brush it off as harmless.

    • Wouter says:

      Some people just need to stop overreacting. I’m gay and i’m not offended in the slightest way. She could’ve chosen some different words, but it’s not as if she meant it maliciously.

      • ohsw says:

        I’m gay too and I am offended. It is not an experiment and I personally think it’s extremely offensive for anyone to imply that it is.

        • AC says:

          She’s 80, when she grow up black people couldn’t marry white people! If what she said was the most offensive things I heard about LGBTQ we sure’d live in a better world! She knew the position of the show about LGBTQ and she accept the role, that’s enough for me.

          • June says:

            Knock off excusing her because of her age. Do you know anything about her? She thinks one of her past lives lived in Atlantis. She’s not senile, and she presents herself as worldly, so this mumbo jumbo about her age isn’t going to fly.

          • H says:

            Yesterday in my country people went to the police claiming that high school teachers, but giving an assignment on a book by an award winning writer which included a description of a sex scene between two men, had harassed and molested their kids with obscenities. Then fascists groups rallied the school. But this is clearly as serious!

          • June says:

            In the real world, people can be upset by more than one thing. I hope you NEVER complain about anything, because children in Africa are dying!

      • anna says:

        I’m gay and I’m offended and shall we continue with a competition on who is happier with problematic crumbs by ignorant people like Shirley?

    • KC says:

      Calm down – wow

    • Leia says:

      just turn everything to be about lgbtq then everyone is homophobic! wow thanks!

    • MLO says:

      What about it was offensive? She said the environment was wonderfully homogenized, which means the lines between gay/straight were gone – they didn’t matter. Sounds very liberated for a woman of her generation. She’s worked on stage and screen for over 50 years – I’m sure she’s quite used to working with all types of people.

      • anna says:

        ‘A gay man’

        We are so thankful for her pointing out and wonder at the change of times while she refers to an actor by his sexuality. And no, she’s not confusing character with actor. She is making a deal about a straight guy (darren) opposite a ‘gay man’ (Chris)

      • Carmen says:

        She also played the role of a lesbian in “The Children’s Hour” and did a great job. I was put off by her apparent lack of understanding, especially since she surely must have met many gay people through the years. Sadly,I don’t think she even had a clue about the fact that her comments could be considered offencive. She evidently did not mean to offend.

    • amberdot says:

      I read it as a different statement – that she was not saying that the characters or any real-life LGBTQ people are “experimenting” but that the actors and writers are experimenting using different relationships and people of different orientations to create a story much of which would have been controversial as recently as 8-10 years ago. I guess it could be taken either way but, since it’s probabaly just a snip of her full answer, until I read the comments I didn’t interpret it as anything other than how the writers are creating the storylines. One of us is taking the comment the wrong way and while I don’t know who I just think for the number of years she’s been in show business she’s met all kinds of people many of whom, in her early days, would have been deep in the closet and if she had any problems something would probabaly have been known before this and I doubt she’d have taken this role on this show.

    • Brian says:

      You do know she played Martha in “The Children’s Hour” in 1961? Do you even know what that role was? Heavily censored at the time- it was about two women at a school. Ground breaking for the LGBTQ community.

    • O'Brien says:

      Here was the thing about what she said: was I the only one who read this interview, and went, “WTF is that word jumble supposed to mean?” She’s a woman well-known for not exactly getting her meaning across, and also, saying some pretty off-the-wall stuff about spirituality and probably mystic crystals (and not just in her old age; you can track her special brand of, um, eccentricity across her career), so I’m not entirely sure what on earth her meaning was with approximately 75% of the interview. That said, I think anyone with sense knows that a person’s gender and sexual orientation certainly aren’t “experiments,” and regardless of age, I don’t think that saying it is is okay. However, Shirley is gonna Shirley, sure as the sun is gonna rise, and only God and her psychic really knows what the heck she actually means.

      TL;DR: That girl is cray, full stop.

    • teresainpa says:

      You have no clue. McClain is one of the most open minded people in Hollywood. She is talking about experimenting with characters and story lines. She played a lesbian in the 1950s or 60s, I forget. But it was terribly gutsy for that time and she was very cool about it. So just stop. You don’t know who you are talking about.

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  6. K says:

    Of course she’ll come between them because this is Blee.

  7. K says:

    This is the most unrealistic storyline by far, the fact that she think Blaine had this huge talent. He is great at ruining a Queen song though.

  8. Lili says:

    Blaine is not 27 years old. How told her that?

  9. Ian says:

    How, um… colorful she is.

    Perhaps she shouldnt be interviewed this much. And no one is going to watch this show for Shirley MacClaine. How absurd they still have the kind of money to pay these guest stars when its not going to improve the ratings. Let this be the damn end of Klaine then, finally.

  10. anna says:

    May this episode flop specially hard.

  11. June says:

    She’s insane. She needs to stop talking before someone throws her in a mental home.

  12. abz says:

    I hope she does come between Blaine and Kurt. I’m so tired of them and they’re so blah. Kurt barely comes across as even interested in Blaine and doesn’t seem to even like him at times. Also, I think the chemistry they had during their first two seasons together has been slowly fading for quite a while. The only way I’d be even close to accepting their stupid engagement is if it means that there is a chance the show will bring Matt Bomer back as Cooper Anderson. :)

  13. melly says:

    News flash, Shirley MacClaine: Darren Criss is not “brave” for daring to act opposite a “gay man”. In fact, it is the only reason he has any career at all.

  14. Mary Jo Mauro says:

    Shirley is an advocate of human rights. If you naysayers & haters knew anything about her, before judging her, you would know that she has advocated for minorities of all types. Why don’t you read some of her books about her travels around the world & what she learned from minorities everywhere? Shirley is a brilliant woman. I am gay and I found nothing offensive about we she said. You should get to know her before you judge her so harshly.
    Check out her website: http://www.shirleymaclaine.com

    • Anne says:

      She also said the victims of the Holocaust were getting what they deserved because they had bad Karma (see I have read her books) so excuse me if I’m not willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. Also, I don’t remember giving you the right to speak on behalf of all gay people. You weren’t offended? Congratulations. Some of us were.

    • Lyle says:

      I’ve read her books, and she’s a racist nut job. But nice try. By inviting people to look into her, they will discover even more awful things about her, like how she abused her daughter.

  15. nate says:

    people will just complain about every damn thing.

  16. Maria says:

    How nice to hear my life is stuff I am experimenting with.

  17. Axel says:

    Wait until you are all 80 years old and interviewed… If you can make it till 80 years or if your brain is still functioning by that time…

  18. Rjrtist says:

    They’re doing an updated version of , ” Sunset Boulevard.” Maybe June will have a butler called Max.

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