Cory Monteith's 'Outstanding' Last Performance

By KATE MORAWETZ

When director/producer Josh Waller first met Cory Monteith he wasn't sure the big hearted Canadian could take on the role of Simon Weeks in his gritty new film, but after sitting with him for a few hours, the Glee star convinced him he could give the role the performance it deserved. We recently sat down with Josh, who was with the late actor only weeks ago for a special screening of the now finished product to find out more about Cory's role of a lifetime.

"He said he wanted the role so badly because he had a very jaded past and he'd never been able to tap into that as an actor and kind of purge his system," the McCanick director told us. Adding, "the character Simon Weeks was the perfect vessel for him to get it all out."

The film revolves around a cop named Eugene McCanick, played by David Morse, who finds out that a convict has been released from prison, someone he put away seven years prior. Josh explains, Cory plays Simon, who is a "lost soul of sorts on the streets of Philadelphia." He continues, "[Simon's] a street hustler. He's 17 or 18-years-old when we first meet him, and then we're reintroduced to his character 7 years later."

Speaking to Cory's role, Josh adds, "Cory had this kind of opportunity to play a character before he's learned his lessons, and [then] a character after he's learned the hard lessons after 7 years of prison, so he's reformed." Playing two characters for one film, shooting simultaneously with his role of Finn Hudson on Glee is no easy task, but Josh says that's just what made Cory so special.

"[Cory] got to do this nice jumping back and forth, between two skins very well," he said. "Our entire budget for the film was maybe like 10 minutes worth of one episode of Glee. He knew that going into it, that it was going to be very 'run and gun', he was very team oriented, never any ego... he was driven towards doing something special with the character."

And he delivered! "I saw him a few weeks ago and we were able to show the completed film to Cory," Josh, taking a moment, says, "he had expressed that he was kind of going through a rough time, but that he was feeling better about it, and then when I saw him at the screening he wrote me a really sweet email."

The filmmaker tells us that Cory was "moved" and extremely happy with his performance, and that he couldn't wait for the film to "get out there so that he could spread the word to the world." Although Cory couldn't wait to spread the word, Josh was looking forward to sharing the actor's "outstanding" performance with audiences saying, "if anything, my obligation is to make sure that people see what he accomplished, what he did."

Josh found out about Cory's death from his McCanick co-star Tracy Toms saying, "the bottom dropped out a little bit, and I kind of knew what [her text] was going to say, but I was just going to hope from the get-go that it was a hoax.  It's horrible, but I haven't really processed it yet."

"I think he proved a little bit as a role model, for a lot of people who experienced tough things in their youth," he says of Cory's lasting impression on his fans. But adds, "Everyone trips and falls, even when you're at the top."

Tune-in to ET Canada tomorrow for more with McCanick director, Josh Waller.