Why Glee’s Grant Gustin Hopes Sebastian Is the Heir to the Sue Sylvester Throne
One day after Glee aired its winter finale — which included an attempted suicide, a win at Regionals, a near-exchange of matrimonial I do’s, and a surprise car wreck — Grant Gustin was back at it, auditioning for film roles while the regular cast shot its next episode.
At the moment, Gustin doesn’t know the fate of his controversial alter-ego Sebastian, the smarmy Warbler introduced as this season’s threat to New Directions. Karofsky’s tragedy appears, for now, to have shaken him of his diabolical ways, but up until then, well, to paraphrase Santana, Sebastian seemed to have been borne from such ’80s jerk-offs as Pretty in Pink’s Steff (James Spader) and Some Kind of Wonderful‘s Hardy (Craig Scheffer).
“I’m on an episode-to-episode basis, so as of now, I haven’t filmed anything for the return in the spring,” Gustin told TVGuide.com. “It’s all up in the air right now, and I have no idea what’s next for him to be honest.”
A month ago, reports surfaced that Gustin, whose professional credits include the Broadway revival of West Side Story and more recently an episode of CSI: Miami, would be promoted to a series regular next season. But that isn’t a done deal. “They have an option on me,” Gustin said. “Basically, if I am to be back next year, that’s most likely what would happen. But they haven’t asked me back yet, and I don’t know if that’s going to be the case.”
But does Sebastian deserve an encore? Gustin, 22, says he hasn’t been given a backstory for the guy outside of his likes — lacrosse, Lima Bean, Scandals, Courvoisier — and he doesn’t deny that the guy’s been pretty uniformly awful. But rather than looking to outright bad guys, he says he drew inspiration from Coach Sue (Jane Lynch). “I wasn’t playing the ’80s villain thing,” he said. “Actually, the first thing I obviously thought to channel was the energy that Jane Lynch brings to Sue Sylvester. We’ve seen her softer side, and she does both mean and soft in this incredibly honest way. So I tried to do that. I tried to think, OK, this guy believes everything he’s saying, and maybe he’s doing it for insecure reasons or maybe he’s just that confident. I just tried to be honest about it.” And just as Sue has been revealed gradually — through her sister, romantic relationships and a bout of depression — Gustin hopes the same might be done for Sebastian. “There are plenty of possibilities if they do bring me back,” he said. “What happened to Karofsky hit very close to home for him. It shocked him into reality, I think. I was surprised it happened so soon. I don’t know if the snarkiness is gone now or if he’s a nice guy, but seeing a different side of him is exciting.”
But Glee still has a lot of work to do if they’re going to try and ingratiate the guy who nearly blinded Blaine (Darren Criss) with fans. “After the Michael Jackson episode, after that slushie… yeah, everyone hates Sebastian,” Gustin laughed. “It’s hard sometimes, but I guess that’s the point. I just have to appreciate that.” And while it made sense for Blaine to join New Directions once he and Kurt became a couple, none of the writers have communicated a Season 4 Sebastian game plan to Gustin. He and the other recurring actors — including Vanessa Lengies and Damian McGinty — are called back on an as-needed basis.
“It’s very last-minute, but that’s not their fault. They’ve got a huge cast and an unbelievable amount of material and people that they’re working with,” Gustin said. “The fact that it’s last-minute, you just have to understand and respect it. It’s been crazy, though. I was in Virginia visiting my family when I found out I was gonna be in the ‘Michael’ episode, and they asked if I could be in the studio the next day. I said, ‘Sure!’ and got on a red eye that night. It’s just the way it is, and you kind of roll with it because it’s an amazing experience.”