Just awful. NeNe spent a good portion of 2011 and 2012 working closely with Cory while filming season 3 of ‘Glee,’ and a source close to the ‘Real Housewives of Atlanta’ star tells HollywoodLife.com EXCLUSIVELY that she is absolutely crushed by the news of his death.
Over her nine-episode guest run as Roz Washington on season three of Glee, NeNe Leakes grew very close to Cory Monteith, and even began to see him as another son. So when she heard that Cory was found dead in his Vancouver hotel room on July 13, a source tells HollywoodLife.com exclusively that she was blindsided and completely devastated.
NeNe Leakes: ‘Glee’ Guest Star Devastated After Cory Monteith Found Dead
“She’s not taking it lightly at all,” a source close to the Real Housewives star says. “It’s just so tragic and it completely caught her off guard.”
Cory’s passing at the young age of 31 makes NeNe think of her own children, the source reveals. “She has two boys of her own and if anything happened to one of them she’d be done — her life would be over. She can’t even imagine what his folks are going through. It’s just too much.”
After the news of Cory’s death broke early in the morning of July 14, NeNe tweeted, “I really can’t sleep right now.” She later uploaded a picture of herself with Cory and Lea Michele and wrote, “These were fun times! I hate 2 see such a great young actor leave us so soon! RIP @corymonteith my prayers r wit u.”
Cory Monteith: A Charming Man With A Bright Future
It didn’t take long for Cory to make a lasting impression on NeNe, who played the hilarious synchronized swimming coach who often butted heads with Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) over her nine-episode arch.
“She thought he was sweet,” the source says, “a handsome young man with a bright future and a big career ahead of him. She liked working with him and thought he was charming and fun.”
And referring to Cory’s well-documented struggles with substance addiction, the source says that NeNe also admired the way he was able to persevere through those hard times: “She knows how tough it is and the struggles people have when they’re young and she admires him for pulling through in the face of adversity.”
We are just absolutely torn up by Cory’s sudden death. He was clearly a great guy who brightened every room he walked into. Our thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family in this difficult time.
— Andrew Gruttadaro