Glee's New Recruit Talks Romancing Spencer, Singing Darren Criss' 'Rise'

Glee Spoilers

Last week’s Glee killed two plot points birds with one stone by introducing Finneas O’Connell as Alistair, a much-needed boost for the New Directions’ dwindling numbers and a long-overdue love interest for this season’s “post-modern gay teen” Spencer.

TVLine spoke with O’Connell about his experience infiltrating Glee in its final hours, what the future might hold for Spencer and Alistair, and how Darren Criss’ original song “Rise” snuck its way into tonight’s episode (Fox, 9/8c).

TVLINE | What was your audition process like for this?
Over the years, I actually auditioned for this show five times for five different characters. I definitely auditioned for one of the new kids at the beginning of this season, and also one of the new kids at the beginning of Season 4; I think a lot of actors do that with this show.

TVLINE | Had you been keeping up with the show, or did you need to play catch-up when they cast you?
I’d been keeping up, semi-vicariously through my sister, who’s a huge Glee fan. She was so jealous when I got the part and got to go to set. Your little sister never thinks you’re cool, but I think she actually thought I was a little cool for doing this.

Glee SpoilersTVLINE | Spencer and Alistair’s relationship feels really natural. What works about them as a couple, and what will we see from them in the coming weeks?
My favorite thing about it is that it’s written as a very understated gay relationship. Glee‘s been such a flagship for televising homosexuality, and I love how it’s changed over the course of six years. In Season 1, we had Kurt coming out to his dad, which was such a big deal. then his relationship with Blaine was kind of controversial — but by the sixth season, there’s this character Spencer who’s character-driven and just happens to be gay. The fact that he’s gay isn’t made into a big deal, so he and Alistair are kind of just having a normal high-school romance. They just like each other; it doesn’t center around the fact that they’re gay.

TVLINE | The New Directions have to merge with the Warblers this week after Dalton burns down. I imagine that goes… not smoothly?
[Laughs] Yeah, it’s actually pretty great that the two teams have to join forces for the first time. And the crazy thing about working with the Warblers is that they’re such good dancers. None of us in the New Directions are that good; some of us can dance, but the Warblers are, like, crack dancers.

TVLINE | And Darren Criss wrote a song, “Rise,” that you guys perform this week, right?
I’ve had that song stuck in my head for a week, it’s that catchy. … We don’t get our scripts until the last minute, so we started filming [Friday’s episode] the day after it was given to us, and we were only given the first act because that’s all they’d finished when we started. The first scene we filmed was one where Darren Criss has a speech about how it’s OK that the Warblers’ school burned down because, like a phoenix, they’re going to rise from the ashes. And he’d written this song “Rise” a couple of years ago, so he was like, “Wait, this reminds me of that song I wrote.” So I think he played it for the producers, and they were like, “This sounds exactly like what we’re trying to say.” Glee‘s whole process is full of moments like that.

Glee Series Finale PhotoTVLINE | I see you in that big group photo from the finale. What was it like performing with so many former cast members?
[Laughs] It kind of felt like being someone’s date to their high school reunion. There were all these people I’d seen before, and everyone else had talked about, but I was so new. I tried to go up to every person I hadn’t met and be like, “Hi, I’m Finneas. You’re awesome.”

TVLINE | As much as you can say, what are your thoughts on the ending of the finale? Will fans be satisfied?
I was really moved by the final episode when I read it for the first time, I hope everyone feels as satisfied as I did. As a fan, it just feels really conclusive; it makes a lot of sense and really wraps things up. There’s also a little time-jumping, some stuff going on in the future, so you can see where everybody ends up.

Glee fans… Your thoughts on Spencer and Alistair’s budding romance? Your hopes for the series finale? Drop ’em all in the comments section below.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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13 Comments
  1. Julia says:

    Good interview, but I’m sorry…I really don’t care about any of the new characters during the final season. What is the point?!

    • KC says:

      Totally agree. Too late to start with his. They should have kept all focus on the originals – the ones we WANT to see.

      • andrw says:

        I honestly hate everyone who says this. the point of glee is new directions, not all the old people who used to be in it.

    • Kay says:

      Yeah this final season has been a giant letdown. I didnt expect much from these writers and yet they still managed not to step over the very low bar I had set for them.

      Who cares about new characters in the final 13 episodes? Why do these new kids have more solos and group numbers than any of the established characters? Why did they feel the need to dedicate all this attention to them in the last 4 episodes the series will ever have?

      And I definitely didn’t need to see another new background romance introduced between two characters whose names I can’t even remember even after reading this article. What pointless filler.

      • odd says:

        I still can not get over the boring Max George aka Clint from VA will end up with more solos then anyone else. He will have more solos than Kurt, Will, Blaine and Sam combined.

      • Kathy says:

        I totally agree. The writing is beyond horrible. It should have stayed with the reason we have been watching this show for so long, the original characters! You just ruined one of the best shows out there. This last season just plain STINKS. You could have done great things and you blew it. Should have stayed in New York.

  2. Gerri says:

    I actually did start caring for the new students this past week, mostly because I felt bad for them that the choir room was over run with graduates that kept singing, so it was nice when they got an episode to themselves. That said, no offence to Finneas, but I didn’t see chemistry with Spencer at all and found it weird that he was attracted to him out of nowhere.

  3. F says:

    I would never stop waiting for the tell all from glee, LOL. Things change dramatically at the drop of a hat, I love Darren and I like the song, but really the writers are so “spontaneous” (have no real plan) that things change just like that.

  4. Jim says:

    With what happens tonight the point of getting new members is moot anyway making last week episode even more of a filler. Spencer is the least interesting new kid and has gotten the most. But they are all better then that last bunch sans Kitty.

  5. Precious22 says:

    This long hair dude just came out of nowhere and now singing with New Directions. How??

  6. jc says:

    Omg need more spencer he’s so hot.

  7. Pam says:

    Final season of Glee with the new cast is terrible. The story line is so bad, the songs are bad, everything about it is terrible. They should have had the original cast who are great on the shows more, Whoever is responsible for the writing of the the final episodes just ruined what could have been a great last season. I can’t ell you how disappointed I am. I always download all of the music from ITunes after each show. But not this season. Awful Awful Awful!!!

  8. Kathy says:

    Glee could keep going by having it go back to New York. It was amazing with the characters trying to make it on broadway. There is so much awesome talent. We need a show like Glee. There is not enough singing and dancing on t.v.