Justin Timberlake could have played a teacher with a very big problem on Glee, the show’s creator just revealed. “When we were writing the pilot, I’ve never really talked about this, that pilot was written for Justin Timberlake,” Ryan Murphy said during an October 30 appearance on the podcast And That’s What You REALLY Missed. “Mr. Schue was written for Justin.” The wildly popular Fox comedy-drama ran from 2009-2015, and the role of Mr. William Schuester ultimately went to Matthew Morrison. Ryan made the revelation while speaking with the podcast’s hosts, Glee alums Kevin McHale and Jenna Ushkowitz.
Per The Daily Mail, though Ryan had signed a “first look” deal with the studio, he admitted he wasn’t sure how he was going to “figure it out” during its early stages. ‘We were having these conversations and I was trying to figure it out,” he said. “Like serendipity, I went to the gym and I was in a towel and a guy went up and handed me a script and he said, ‘I had a feeling you were in show choir, am I right?’ And I was like ‘Yeah.’ And he said, ‘My friend wrote this script and you should read it.”‘
The writer, Ian Brennan, became Glee‘s co-creator alongside Ryan. And Mr. Schue, the show’s beloved William McKinley High School Spanish teacher/Glee Club director, was originally conceived as a much more conflicted character. “Mr. Schue, I believe, was a crystal meth addict in Ian’s script,” Ryan revealed during the podcast. “The NC-17 version of show choir with a weird protagonist who was unraveling…I just need something optimistic.”
Even without Justin, the show was a massive hit. It went on to score nearly a dozen Emmy nominations in 2010 alone and even picked three Grammy nominations. During its lifespan, it scored four Emmy wins and four Golden Globe wins, and made massive stars of Lea Michele, the late Naya Rivera, Jane Lynch, Darren Criss, and Grant Gustin, among others.
Justin went on to star as a teacher anyway, appearing alongside former girlfriend Cameron Diaz in Bad Teacher (2011) and rising his star with films including The Social Network and Friends With Benefits, among others.