chat room

Heather Morris on Playing Glee’s Resident Dummy, Brittany

Whether confusing ballads with male ducks, losing her wheelchair, or developing a strangely close relationship with fellow Cheerio Santana, Heather Morris’s Brittany has emerged as the stealth player on Glee — an initially minor character whose priceless one-liners have made her an integral part of the show’s ensemble. Gleeks likely already noticed Morris’s above-average dance skills in numbers like “Bust Your Windows;” it turns out she’s a trained hoofer (with a Beyoncé tour under her belt), and Brittany is her first real acting role. In advance of tonight’s premiere, Morris spoke to Vulture about getting cast on Glee, becoming Brittany, and what’s coming up in the back nine for her increasingly hilarious character.

Brittany has quietly become a more visible character. What did the creators initially tell you about her?
Basically, I was cast to play a third addition to the Cheerios — literally just a bitchy cheerleader, nothing involved, just “you’re going to be part of this trio with Quinn and Santana.” I had gotten a couple lines in the beginning, though I didn’t have a story line, and they’d mostly hired me to be a dancer in the glee-club scenes.

So at what point did you realize you were getting a more involved part?
I was in a scene with Mark Salling and Jane Lynch, this scene in Sue’s office when she’s trying to recruit us to be in her own rival glee club, when she was ranting on about how I was this Dutch girl from the red-light district, and he was this Jewish guy, and [creator] Ryan Murphy was watching and I heard this hysterical laughing. He walks in, like, “Heather Morris: You looked so confused, and it’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.” It was literally from that moment on, it just kept getting worse and worse, the dumb things I was saying.

Do you imagine any kind of backstory for Brittany?
I do, embarrassingly enough. I’ve always just thought she’s a cheerleader and has been her whole life. She’s not a very smart girl, but she knows she loves to perform. In a nutshell, she’s like a lost puppy-dog — you know how dogs love everybody? I’m friends with everybody in the glee club, but I have this owner, Santana, who keeps me under control.

What was your Glee audition like?
It was nuts. The whole thing started in December of ’08, when I’d made the decision I was going to stop dancing — I wasn’t happy, and I’d always had a dream of acting, but I was so nervous, ‘cause everybody wants to be an actress. In January I told this to the Glee choreographer, Zach Woodlee, and he told me he was pushing my name to Ryan Murphy, and “by chance, we’re working right now on the ‘Single Ladies’ dance you did with Beyoncé,” so I went in to teach Chris Colfer and Jenna Ushkowitz. And Ryan ended up coming in and watching me a couple times. A week later I got a call from my agent, “You’re officially booked on Glee for Brittany.”

Let’s back up a minute — you did “Single Ladies” with Beyoncé?!
Yeah! I did Beyoncé’s live tour; I was with her for two years almost. Chris [Colfer] was like, “This is insaaane!” when he found out. He ate it up so much. And Amber [Riley] thought I was cool! I was like, what?!

You were particularly memorable in “Hairography,” demonstrating “cool epilepsy.”
Okay, so this is what happened. We were at dinner with Ryan one night and I was talking to him, and he’s obsessed with Beyoncé, and he always just asks me to dance for him, like, “Entertain me!” He asked me “How do you dance with your hair? You’re so good at it!” And I was like, hairography — dancers do hairography! It’s a real thing, Beyoncé does it, dancers do it, it’s just what we do. And a week later, he was like, “Heather, I wrote an episode about hairography.“ So I then have a scene where I’m describing it just like I did at dinner! You never know what he’s going to put in the script.

We all wanted to see more of the supporting characters in the first part of the season. Will we get that now?
Yeah definitely. Santana and I are always together no matter what, as Brad so elegantly quoted, we are better in “a two-shot.” But we do start veering off, having relationships with other people. I mean, I don’t have a solo yet. We’re finishing the first season now, and there’s nothing, but you’ll get to hear Naya Rivera [Santana] sing soon!

So what should we most be looking forward to in the first few episodes?
I think the biggest thing to look forward to is the music; no joke, there’s double the amount of music in episodes now. It’s so cool. Some of it is much older, and some of the songs will come as a shock. We literally have almost every one of Madonna’s songs; that episode, I’m telling you, you’re going to pee in your pants.

Heather Morris on Playing Glee’s Resident Dummy, Brittany