As previously noted, Naya Rivera is the best part of Glee this season, even if she hasn't been in every episode. Santana spent a lot of time offscreen at the University of Louisville, returning to Lima every once in a while to do something sad, like break up with Brittany or star in McKinley’s production of Grease. Fortunately, she’s still the queen of bitch-slappery. And she's also gotten to bust out more Tina Turner, improve Alicia Keys’s “Girl on Fire,” and — finally — move to New York. Vulture rang up Rivera, who is currently working on a solo album, to talk about the backlash from fans still unhappy about the Brittana split, and what it’s been like behind the scenes of Glee’s revamped fourth season. Plus: her thoughts on Finn’s unfortunate new wardrobe and cuckoo Quinn.
Are you still hearing from “all lesbians of the nation” mourning Brittana?
Yeah, they’re still not happy about that. Every now and then I’ll check Twitter and “Brittana forever!” will be trending worldwide. It’s amazing they do that. But yeah, they’re still not happy.
Did you talk to the writers about why Santana and Brittany needed a time-out?
You know, I haven’t spoken to them about why, but I felt like it was just the natural choice. Brittany is obviously still in high school and Santana has now moved to New York. And they’ve been exploring the long-distance thing with — I’m gonna say it — Klaine, but not for Brittany and Santana. I like that so far.
Careful now. I agree that Santana needs her own story lines that have nothing to do with her love life. It took long enough getting her to New York!
It took a long time. [Laughs.] There were just some loose ends to tie up in Ohio.
What will she be up to?
They’re going to start telling her New York story and what she does for a living and what she wants to do for a career. There will be a couple of episodes that will heavily deal with that.
And what does she want to do?
I mean, she’s got a regular job that I think she thought would be able to let her perform, but it doesn’t work out that way.
Are you happier now that Santana’s not floating alone in Louisville?
I am! I love that she’s in New York, now. I love the dynamic between Kurt and Rachel and Santana. They all really complement each other because they’re so different. Plus, I get to wear the most comfortable clothes. I was either barefoot or in slippers for the entire episode.
Santana still gets the best lines. She is the queen of bitch-slappery.
It makes me laugh out loud. Like last week’s episode, all of that drug miming, so hysterical. And [Glee co-creator] Ian Brennan was directing, and he’s like the perfect person to direct that stuff. We need to have some type of DVD bonus because we shot so much of her scavenging, too. There was a one-armed clean sweep across a drawer that was awesome.
Quinn came back and slept with Santana a couple of episodes ago. What the hell! What did you think when you read that?
That was really weird. I think it was just like, “Oh, we’re having this wedding, and everyone’s gonna hook up. And that’s just what’s happening!” I don’t know. I didn’t really think anything of it. I just thought that it made sense because [Quinn] is like a crazy person anyways. Of course she would just try this because she would try anything. [Laughs.]
So as far as you know, Dianna Agron is cool with dropping by every now and then to do something nuts?
Basically. I mean, Quinn has literally done everything. She’s been paralyzed. She’s been pregnant. She’s now been a lesbian for a minute. She tried to steal a baby. She was a bad girl who smoked, and then she didn’t smoke. Quinn is secretly my favorite character just because she’s so out there.
And Dianna just comes back for that as needed.
She’s not doing as many episodes this season. I think that’s by choice. She did that movie Malavita. She’s a busy girl.
This season’s been radically different from the first three. Has it felt like a different show behind the scenes?
It does feel like a different show and sometimes I get really sad about it. We shoot on the same soundstage, but there’s this big door that separates the two worlds, so on my lunch breaks I’ll go over there and see [Kevin McHale] and [Jenna Ushkowitz] and everybody I haven’t seen, like, “I miss you guys! What are you doing?” I have no idea what they’re doing! I have no idea about the gossip and drama with the new kids! I feel like I’ve really grown up because we used to have all that stuff and now we don’t.
It’s funny because Lea and I have been getting insanely jealous of the new New Directions because at the end of every episode they get to do a fun number where they just, like, run around. Like, free-form rock-out! We never got to do that!
The rocking out?
Well, when we were in New Directions we had like six-hour dance rehearsals. It was very rigid. Now they’re literally just running around with balloons. [Laughs.]
Finn’s been kind of a floater, too. He should be in New York.
I definitely think Finn needs to be there. I think they know that.
He has to wear these awful sweater-vests and cardigans now.
[Cory Monteith] calls himself Finn Schuester now. Every time I see him, I’m like, “Jesus.” [Laughs.] Like, “Nice wing tips.”
They’re going to phase him out of that, right?
I honestly have no idea. Just when I think, Of course they’ll move Cory to New York, I’ll go, Oh. Wait. Maybe he is the new Schue! I have no idea.
Lea Michele has said she’s definitely coming back to Glee next year, and that she’s heard the broad strokes about what next season might look like. How are you feeling about coming back full time?
You never really know what they plan on doing. I think we’ve been on the show a really long time; I wasn’t really sure what they were going to do with Santana but I think that her story line is evolving and there is more to tell. So yeah, I’d absolutely be down to be around for some portion of that. But there is the album stuff that I desperately want to get done. It’s just a matter of finding a balance. We won’t get into it until after we wrap at the end of April. We’re getting the longest hiatus we’ve ever had this year, so I’m super excited about that. [Laughs.]
How far along are you with the album?
It’s going really well, actually. I’ve made a lot of progress the last two weeks.
What’s the sound?
It’s definitely urban, it’s not super pop. It’s soulful, jazzy, urban, like Amy Winehouse’s jazz influences, a hip-hop Adele, a little Beyoncé ...
Will it come out this year?
I’m definitely going to try. We’ve got a solid three [tracks] right now that I’m really, really happy with. It’s just a matter of figuring out if I’m going to do an EP or an entire album. As an artist, I would love to do an entire album, that’s a big deal, but given the fact that I do all of these other things at the same time, maybe an EP might be the way to go. And that’s still fun. I can still do shows with five original songs and like two covers. Keep it smaller at first.
And you could put it out faster.
Right. I want people to stop being mad at me!
On behalf of the fans who are still sad, I have to ask: Is Brittany planning a trip to New York?
I actually don’t know because I don’t know what the last two episodes of the season will be like. I don’t know if we’ll all go back to Ohio, but I’m assuming if we do I’ll talk to Brittany and see her. But other than that, I don’t know.