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Glee’s Heather Morris on Taking the Spotlight in Tonight’s Britney Spears Episode

Last season, Glee fans grew attached to Heather Morris’s lovably daffy Brittany, a Cheerio with a perfect blonde ponytail, killer dance moves, and an endless supply of hilarious non sequiturs. And now, Morris is a full cast member and tonight gets the spotlight in the much-awaited Britney Spears–featuring episode "Britney/Brittany." She spoke to us (well, as much as she could) about what we can expect tonight, her first vocal solo, and working with John Stamos.

When the idea for a Britney Spears episode came up, did you know how involved you’d be?
When we were on tour this summer, Ryan pulled me aside and told me they were doing this episode and that the title would be “Britney/Brittany,” but he said, "No one knows about this, so shhh — we’re gonna keep it a secret till you guys get the script." I knew the episode was about my character and Britney Spears, but Ryan didn’t really get into it; he just said get ready, make sure your voice is ready, take some voice lessons. So I was like, "Okay, I’m ready!"

Once we started rehearsing for the tour, Ryan said he just felt like I deserved this, that he had seen the audience reaction to Brittany and how much they liked her, so he thought it was the perfect time to write something for her character. They wanted to make me a series regular, and I’d mentioned that I’d love to do Britney Spears, so of course I died when he told me about this.

How will we see her in the episode — will you interact with her?
You’ll be surprised; I mean, it’s such a fast thing — you’re like, "Whoa, where’d you come from?" The students who sing do interact with her — but that’s kinda all I can give you.

It seems like this episode will really give you a chance to dance like you have professionally. Did you take part in the choreography at all?
Oh no, no, no. It was all Zach Woodlee — he choreographs everything always. Zach was like, "We want you to be able to do your type of dancing," and for him it was great to have the capability to do the kind of choreography he usually can’t do with the other cast members.

Will we see any similarities in the performances to Britney's videos?
They choreographed one section in one of the songs I do as a solo using one of her performances as inspiration; not necessarily a video, but tons of performances, so I get a few different looks from those. The “Me Against the Music” montage, it’s literally copied exactly from the video, the shots and looks, but the choreography is made so much more for a dancer — none of it is from the video. You just have to wait to see it. It’s insane. I mean, I got to hold a frickin’ python! He was so awesome. I had a handler but it was such a beautiful creature, and it’s not that I’ve dreamed of holding a snake, but it was so cool, and also a little weird, to get to do what she got to do with it.

How do you think this compares with the Madonna episode?
I literally was just talking about that at work. We saw it on Friday, with the whole cast and crew saying they liked the Madonna episode better than Britney. But to me they’re so different. My character’s quirky, so the episode has more comedic stuff; it’s more of a funny episode. I thought it was hysterical.

This is also John Stamos’s first episode. How’d you like working with him?
It was awesome, 'cause the first day he came on set we were all outside talking and he literally just stepped into the conversation and started talking and hanging out. We didn’t even realize it was him at first! He was just chillin’ with us, he wasn’t like this big star who appeared. He’s so cool. And he’s such a good-looking older man; it’s ridiculous. But he’s not intimidating — he’s just beautiful. He fits in really well.

This is also the first time we’ll hear you sing. Did it take a lot of preparation?
Girl, I already knew all of it. I was like, "Done. I already know it all!" It’s really not very hard, the stuff I got to do, but I was of course super-nervous. On tour, I worked with a vocal coach, Roger Love, two lessons a week, and just kind of started learning my range. It was so weird because we got so busy, I didn’t have much time before we started recording, and it’s almost a good thing; when you get in you tend to forget everything you learned about using emotion and concentrating on the sound, so when I tried to have a good voice — which I’m sure wasn’t successful! — they were just like, "I know you’re trying to sound good, but you need to give some sex appeal and more feeling, because that’s how Britney Spears records." And Ryan really wanted me to sound a lot like her. It’s sort of weird to say Britney was my idol growing up — I was 11 or 12 when “Baby … One More Time” came out.

Was it strange to all of a sudden have all this attention on you?
No! Not at all. I was like, yes! I can dance and I can do things! I got really tired; I do a lot in this episode. I didn’t really know why I was so tired all the time at first. I was just working my ass off. Every day I felt like I was drunk, like what am I doing today?! This must be how Lea Michele feels all the time! But it’s true — I’ve never had to go to vocal records before, and adding it is literally that much harder.

It’s clear from the first episode that the writers are responding to everyone’s love of Brittany’s crazy lines — but the first episode almost seemed like overkill. Will we be seeing more of that?
Well, a lot of the stuff I say in this episode is actually genuine. When you start to have a character that you have to create a story line for, she has to be a human being, so I’m not saying quirky ad libs the whole time. It’s my character being herself in a day-to-day atmosphere. When I got to finally start reading what she was saying genuinely, it was more normal, with I guess what I bring to the words. I kinda get scared of the audience thinking I’m going to just constantly be saying these crazy things, but it seems okay for now.

Will we be seeing evolution in Brittany and Santana’s relationship this season?
I’m curious about it, too. We’ve been so connected and in love, per se, like best friends, and not that there’s gonna be twists and turns, but you’ll see it start to change a little bit in the fourth or fifth episodes. Since we’re both cast members now, we have a lot more to do with the other characters. We’re not just fillers — we have actual story lines now, which is cool.

I’m assuming the lead vocals this week will be very female-heavy — am I right?
You will be proven wrong, ha! I love it — that is the funniest part to me. That’s all I can say.

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images