/Idina Menzel Shares Why Playing Lea Micheles Glee Mom Wasnt Great For The Ego

Idina Menzel Shares Why Playing Lea Micheles Glee Mom Wasnt Great For The Ego

Idina Menzel is looking back on her “Glee” years with with the benefit of hindsight.

The “Wicked” and “Frozen” actor had a recurring role on the premiere season of “Glee” in 2010 as Shelby Corcoran, the birth mother of Lea Michele’s character, high school student Rachel Berry. She went on to reappear during the musical series’ third season as part of a more substantial storyline.

At the time, it seemed like inspired casting. Not only do Menzel and Michele share a physical resemblance, but both women were established Broadway performers before landing their respective “Glee” gigs.

In a new interview, however, Menzel says playing Shelby “wasn’t great for the ego” given that she is only 15 years Michele’s senior in real life.

“You’re worried you’re not going to work again, and then people hire you to be someone’s mother when you probably should be their older sister,” she told Ireland’s Stellar magazine, via the New York Post.

Menzel rose to fame in the late 1990s as Maureen in the smash musical “Rent,” which also starred Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp. She cemented her status as an era-defining Broadway performer in 2003 when she played Elphaba in “Wicked,” winning a Tony Award.

Idina Menzel (left) and Lea Michele in a 2011 episode of "Glee."
Idina Menzel (left) and Lea Michele in a 2011 episode of “Glee.”

Just before Menzel got the call for “Glee,” she and now-former husband Taye Diggs became first-time parents to a son, Walker. As a new mother, the actor and singer feared that opportunities like “Glee” would become scarce, so she accepted the role.

“I sucked it up and sucked myself into my clothes, and was excited to work with [creator] Ryan Murphy and be a part of that hit show,” said Menzel, who noted that she “couldn’t fit into any of the costumes” given that she’d only recently given birth.

Interestingly, Menzel has questioned the age gap between her and Michele on more than one occasion.

“She was 26, and I probably should’ve been her older sister,” she told InStyle in 2021. “But I don’t have a chip on my shoulder about that.”

Still, there’s no denying Menzel made the most of her “Glee” run by delivering a number of memorable musical performances. She joined Michele on a cover of Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face,” performed in duet, as well as a chilling rendition of the “Les Misérables” showstopper, “I Dreamed a Dream.”

Following her “Glee” run, Menzel has continued to enjoy major success on stage and screen. She endeared herself to a new generation of fans in 2013 when she voiced Queen Elsa in Disney’s animated megahit “Frozen,” and later reprised the role for the film’s sequel six years later. Last year, she appeared alongside Amy Adams and James Marsden in “Disenchanted,” a Disney+ sequel to the 2007 fairy tale comedy “Enchanted.”

Interestingly, Menzel was once a contender for Broadway’s current revival of “Funny Girl.” Michele won critical acclaim for her portrayal of Ziegfeld Follies comedian Fanny Brice after joining the musical’s cast last fall.

“Yes, I was supposed to…but it didn’t work out,” she told host Andy Cohen in an appearance on “Watch What Happens Live” last year. “COVID happened. Lea’s the right choice.”

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