‘Glee’: Ryan Murphy Wanted Justin Timberlake To Play William Schuester

Justin Timberlake, as director of the glee club?!?

That’s who Ryan Murphy initially had in mind when casting the pilot for Glee, his hit dramedy for Fox. During his appearance on the first episode of the podcast And That’s What You REALLY Missed, Murphy admitted that he had someone other than Matthew Morrison in mind when he first went looking for his choir director William Schuester.

“That pilot was written for Justin Timberlake, Mr. Schue,” Murphy admits for the first time to hosts Kevin McHale and Jenna Ushkowitz, who starred on Glee as Artie Abrams and Tina Cohen-Chang, respectively.

The episode ended at that point so anyone who wants more details will have to listen in next week.

Murphy also revealed that his Glee co-creator Ian Brennan wanted Schuester to be — get this — a crystal meth addict in an earlier, dark version of the script. “It was sort of like Election, but the NC-17 version of show choir with a weird protagonist who was unraveling,” said Murphy. “What I loved was the idea of kids in high school … it seems like shows that work or TV experiences work feature people going through first times.”

The role of the choir director ultimately went to Matthew Morrison, who earned an Emmy nomination for playing Schue in 2010.

McHale and Ushkowitz said they spent three hours talking to Murphy for their kick-off episode. The Uber-producer admitted to the duo that he’s never talked in depth about the dramedy that aired from 2009 to 2015. He said it took six months to write the pilot and when he turned it in, then Fox president Kevin Reilly said it lacked a baddo. That’s when he added cheer coach Sue Sylvester, played by Jane Lynch.

Murphy didn’t hold back in his memories of those early years. He said one “super powerful” executive “in Dockers” used a disparaging term to describe the show.

“There was a lot of homophobic fear of that show,” Murphy said.