When season four of the award-winning musical comedy drama Glee premiered in Australia last week, one cast member was noticeably absent - Cory Monteith, who plays Finn Hudson.
Finn was one of the seniors who graduated at the end of last season. While his girlfriend Rachel Berry (Lea Michele) headed off to follow her dreams in New York, Finn joined the army.
It's all part of the evolution of Glee, which focuses on a group of McKinley High School "losers" who joined the school's glee club and gained a new sense of belonging and self-worth.
Finn's tour in the armed forces turns out to be short-lived. He accidentally shoots himself, is discharged and hits the road to find Rachel.
"That is a classic Finn move to shoot himself in the leg," says Monteith by phone from Los Angeles.
"It is very much the good old Finn we all know and love, the hang-dog, hopeful, aw-shucks kid we all know but it is absolutely a big learning curve for him trying to fit back into his life in Ohio. With his girlfriend, without his girlfriend, it is Finn's eternal struggle of trying to find his place."
Monteith's life has changed dramatically since he first spoke to Today in 2009, when the audience had seen only the pilot of Glee and it had not yet become an international hit for its catchy reinterpretations of hit songs, tempered with social issues such as bullying, teen pregnancy and coming out as gay.
He is often seen on the red carpet with TV and real-life girlfriend Michele - but any personal questions are off limits for the Canadian-raised star who worked as a taxi driver and school bus driver while waiting for his break.
"My life has changed in almost every way but I couldn't be more grateful. I couldn't be happier - I feel like the luckiest guy in the world," he says.
"I couldn't be more excited obviously with how people have responded to the show and also for what is coming around the corner; I think it is going to be a great season, our best season yet.
"I'll tell you, it is really good stuff, they are writing for me this year. Finn does a lot, a lot this year."
Monteith, who last year starred with Selena Gomez in the comedy Monte Carlo, has recently been shooting the independent film McCanick with David Morse and Ciaran Hinds between shooting Glee. "It is going to be a very big departure from what people are used to seeing me do," he says. "It is much darker, it is much more of a thriller, an independent film, so the tone is a lot different. It takes place in Philadelphia and the character couldn't be further from Finn Hudson."
Monteith says one of the things he's proudest of working on Glee is the way the series has helped open our minds to issues of equality for often marginalised sections of the community.
"We have minorities, whether it is skin colour or the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community; these people are represented in an equal stature on primetime television," he says.
"I think that is such a huge step forward in terms of equality generally. I don't care if that is racially, if it is equality, gender, origin, whatever."Being a part of a show that has made a big difference in terms of human equality is the thing I am proud of the most."
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