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Love to hate or just hate? 'Glee' star Jessalyn Gilsig says tonight's episode brings Terri's moment of reckoning

Glee_17-jessalyn-psa_0964_ly_v2It’s not easy being Mrs. Schuester.

While “Glee” fans have already seen the softer sides of the show’s chief mischief-makers -- Quinn is mean but scared; Puck’s a slut but cares for Quinn; and Coach Sue’s got a soft spot for her sis (and had her heart broken! awww) -- few have been able to see past Will’s manipulative and shrill wife Terri. Especially not while well-pressed Emma is around with her hygienic spray and halo.

But tonight’s episode could be a turning point for Terri, says actress Jessalyn Gilsig, who calls it “a moment of reckoning” for the Schuesters. “Everything comes to a head,” Gilsig told Show Tracker. “Will and Terri have that big, horrible, middle-of-the-night assessment of their relationship. It was intense when we shot it.” Will viewers now take a little pity on Terri? Perhaps. “That’s what’s so great about [series creator] Ryan Murphy. He gives you someone like Quinn, who starts off as a bitchy cheerleader, and then you see everything that’s underneath. I think a kind of similar thing could happen tonight for Terri.” Maybe.

For now, Gilsig agrees to get into the hot seat:

How has it been to see the fan reaction to Terri?
Interesting? It’s sort of tough. To be totally candid, after “Wheels” aired, I went online and my homepage is latimes.com. I thought, ‘Oh, this episode is safe because I’m not in it.’ Yeah. I read the recap and said, ‘OK, I’m going back to bed and I’m not getting up for the rest of my life’ (laughs). It’s OK, I’ll live. It was just a bit of a burn in the morning. [An excerpt from said recap: "Wednesday night was sheer perfection. And I hope I'm not the only one who didn't notice Mrs. Schuester wasn't present.... Take the hint."]

Did you expect this kind of backlash? At the summer Fox TCA party, Matthew Morrison, who plays Will, did say he was worried for you.
Creatively am I worried? No. I’ve been so lucky to have worked with [series creator] Ryan Murphy before and we’ve communicated about this. From the moment that I took the part, he was very candid about it being a really difficult part. How else can Will come off as sympathetic if he’s going to flirt so blatantly with this woman at school unless he has this really dysfunctional marriage at home? So in some ways I knew I was a sacrificial lamb. So we said, OK, let’s make it entertaining as possible…

Ryan also cast you as crazy Gina on “Nip/Tuck”…
But that’s why I like working with Ryan. You try to find what’s motivating this character to make these poor choices. Or really, really misguided choices. We had a SAG Talk Back session the other day and I heard the same anti-Terri stuff from the room and I was just like, ‘OK, can we talk about Balloon Boy’s parents?’ They’re real. And I would imagine that there are women who’ve lied about being pregnant -- but probably would have said they lost it at the point where Terri is -- but there are crazy people out there! What’s happening is not totally outside the realm of probability.

Have the writers talked to you about showing us different sides to Terri? She did just give him a car. And they’ve done it so successfully with Puck and Quinn and Sue…

By the end of this year [last episode Dec. 9; show returns April 13] I think Terri gets explained. Tonight’s episode is kind of a reckoning, as I like to say. What I hope is conveyed is that you see the child inside Terri. You see the fear.

At the same time, she’s a crazy, wacky person (laughs). I don’t want to just reverse on her, either. I think the show is fun because we have these characters who do light the match in the room. I like playing those parts. I liked doing that with Gina and people hated her. I loved her! I know Gina -- don’t you have those friends that just keep driving the car into the wall over and over? I actually think those people are so much more typical in reality than someone who keeps coming up with the right things to say in the right moment. To me, Gina was completely relatable. And I’m not the kind of actor who will complain or get involved in the writing. I always think it is my job to make sense of what I’m given, especially when I have so much confidence in the writing talent.

102Glee-101_Sc03_9562 Mr. Schu’s not exactly innocent either in my mind.
In ‘Vitamin D,’  there was this thing on set where everyone was like, ‘Oh, Emma and Terri are gonna have a showdown!’ But when we started doing the episode, it dawned on everyone like, ‘Hey, this is Terri’s husband!’

I had to give it to Terri in that scene where she lays down the law for Emma.
There was a great line that Terri says that went something like, ‘You think you’re special because you’re nice to the man a few hours a day.’ I mean, that’s really good writing. It is easy to flirt at work. You don’t have to deal with the realities of what it is to co-habitate and live together day to day.

I get what people are saying. But I think I understand her and some people have been generous tracking her in that way. At the same time, the show’s not about me -- so I have to take everything with a grain of salt. It’s been interesting. I mean some people are really mad. I kind of wish sometimes that the Internet didn’t exist.

I think Terri is funny, and that’s why I don’t have as big a problem with her as most others. Or I’m willing to be more patient. As a viewer, what do you think of her?
It’s hard to watch yourself, but I think she’s funny too. I think it’s been fun to work with Matt and I think they have found moments where they connect and the viewer can see why these people are together.

There are two facets to everybody. So for Ryan, his instructions to Matthew and I were to find the heart of this relationship. It’s tarnished and malnourished but it all started somewhere. If you ask anyone about the beginning of a relationship, they always get sentimental. Terri’s problem is that she keeps trying to go back to that moment in high school where it was like magic. I think she wants to live back in that place. Will’s obviously matured past that point and she just has no tools to communicate those insecurities. But she does love him.

111Glee-ep110_Sc19_7148 That scene when Terri’s having her fake sonogram with Will in the room moved me -- even though she’s having a fake sonogram!
Yes, Ryan directed that scene! We talked a lot about it. Obviously it’s funny, but he was also really adamant that Terri and Will have this moment where they’re both speaking from the heart. You see that Terri knows that this is the next step their relationship needs if they’re going to make it.

People are totally entitled to their opinions, of course. I’m not going to launch a campaign to change minds about her. I would just like to keep my job (laughs). I’m not gonna lie either, though: If you join Team Terri, I might come over and wash your car.

Any ideas where Terri’s heading in the new year?
The writers have so many ideas that I’ve learned not to get married to anything I hear. But we have talked and I have a little bit of an idea what will happen to her and I’m excited about it. There could be a chance for Terri to gain her independence, to not be so co-dependent, to maybe figure out who she is without that panic she’s been operating off of. That’s what they’ve hinted at, but beyond that you never know.

Finally, will we ever hear Terri sing?
I think the thinking is, "Let’s let Lea Michele loose and hold back the great pipes." No, no, that is not what’s happening (laughs). It’s got to be appropriate, so maybe? I do feel like Terri’s got to sing if she’s got a chance. She’s so outside the realm of everything that everyone loves about the show.

-- Denise Martin

Photo credit: Fox

Comments () | Archives (13)

Her character makes it so easy for anyone to just ... get sooo angry at! Faking a pregnancy!

I love Terri!

I think the fact that she's portrayed as insecure makes her endearing, just like Sue when she got her heart-broken.

Totally Team Terri here.

I think she's hilarious thanks to Jessalyn Gilsig's fantastic comedic timing and yet the vulnerability is still showing through because of her strong acting as well. I would choose Terri over Emma any day. I am so thrilled that she will continue to be a part of the show even if she and Will split up. I'm very excited to see tonight's episode and the "reckoning."

I enjoyed this interview. I think Miss Gilsig is very talented. I recall enjoying her in Nip/Tuck and as the teacher in the Boston High school drama series by the creator of Ally McBeal. Any one who loves acting knows the most fun parts are the evil person. She is very versatile and obviously quite funny.

I wouldn't call Terri "endearing" -- her insecurity doesn't change the fact that the fake pregnancy is really cruel. BUT, I also love Terri because Jessalyn Gilsig makes me laugh out loud every episode. (And as a married young woman, I do have to say I'm on her side. Work out the crazy or get divorced, but don't cheat, Mr. Shue!)

I so agree ... how can anybody root for the other woman??!

I meant to say, how can anyone root for the wannabe homewrecker?!

I am a film professor, and I know that that does not make my opinion worth more than that of any other poster, at best, it makes me a relatively well-informed observer. However, I would like to suggest that those who do not think highly of Terri should consider the quality of performance over characterization. Simply put, Ms. Gilsig puts a great deal of effort into the character and the degree to which viewers find the character so very frustrating is an effect of the the quality of her performance. Some of the most despicable characters in media history were the effect of impassioned performance: Max Schreck's Nosferatu, Brigitte Helm's maddened automaton Maria in Metropolis, even Faye Dunaway's Joan Crawford. Many actors would not have the skills to prompt our negative emotional response. I am not fond of the fake pregnancy story line but I try to see beyond it.

Thank god she got work done on that monstrosity of a nose that she used to have. It's a lot easier looking at her now, that's for sure.

I adore Jessalyn, I think she's an incredibly talented actress. I believe I'm in the minority of the Glee fans in that I am firmly on Team Terri, as opposed to Team Emma. Whole many fans go on about the 'cuteness' of Emma, I can't get beyond the fact that she is batting her eyelashes at a married man, while leading on another! (Though I have to add at this point that I think Jayma Mays is another great actress!)

What Terri is doing IS an horrific deception, but one that is, in a way, understandable. She's right to suspect that her marriage is in danger, her husband is dangerously close to another woman. She's desperate and clinging to the advice of her selfish and stupid sister, getting in way over her head. I feel sorry for her, probably due to Jessalyn's fantastic acting.

I do HATE HATE HATE Terri. However, that's partially because of the writing and partially because of the great performance by Ms. Gilsig. I really want Terri off "Glee", but I would love Ms. Gilsig back as Meredith on "Heroes" (she would be a perfect addition to the carnival and one that would make Claire want to stay there even MORE!).

Oh Teri, Teri, Teri, What are we to do with you? Frankly, if the fake pregnancy were the only thing she'd done wrong I might be able to summon up some sympathy for her. The problem is, it is far from her only transgression. She is selfish and cruel and apparently has been for some time. She takes and takes from Will while giving absolutely nothing but lies and manipulation. She isn't even manipulating him into important things. She wants a nice house that is beyond what Will can afford. She wants nice clothes and expensive furniture and steadfastly refuses to get a job herself. When she did take a position, during which she committed multiple felonies , it was only so that she could maintain her sense of control over her husband and Quinn.

Emma doesn't want to be "the other woman". That is why she's marrying Ken. She cannot deny the attraction between herself and Will, neither can he for that matter, so she is trying to shield them both from an untenable situation. I find it unfair to condemn Emma and Will as adulterers when they have made efforts to avoid acting on their feelings.

Now that Teri's moment of reckoning has come, Will has finally gotten a look at who Teri really is and has been all these years. Unfortunately for him, yet fortunately for the drama, Emma has put the veil back in place. Will is again seeing the illusion that Teri has cultivated since they met.

I think the character of Emma explained it all. "You're a lot to lose."

But even in the last scene of Glee that featured "Will and Terri", one begins to see that Terri is just like the rest of us. She stated she knew she was going to "go without", and as long as she had Will she could live.

In life, we love to point the figure at people and say, see how selfish he/she is. However I think we all think like that. I want to be a stay at home mom, instead of working, but I can do it as long as I have my hubby. I want a $800 purse instead of my cheap walmart one, but it's okay, as long as I have my family.

We all want. I think Ryan's idea was to be very honest about Terri's goals, and wants. We react to her the way we do because what we do not like in others, we see in our self.

I hope to see her in the next Glee run. Wouldn't it be funny if she ended up pregnant?


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