Glee’s upcoming sixth season will be its last, which means, sadly, that television will be losing one of its most brilliant characters: Sue Sylvester.
Played by Jane Lynch, Sue has captured audiences since the show first hit the small screen in 2009. With her ruthless, menacing antics and offensive one-liners, Sue, at first glance, is pure evil. But counterbalanced by a tenderness toward her sister, Jean, and Cheerios cheerleader Becky, both of whom have Down syndrome, there is something very sweet and compassionate about Sue as well. Sue is complex, one of the great female antiheroes.
When we last saw Sue in season 5, she had taken over as principal of William McKinley High School and also started up a romance with Mario (Chris Parnell) while visiting New York. Here, Lynch picks up where the show left off, telling Entertainment Weekly how the show might end, how she’d like it to end, her favorite Sue moments, and what life after Glee might be like.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What’s going to happen in the final season, and what will Sue’s involvement be?
JANE LYNCH: I have no idea what’s going to happen, but I know we’ll probably be doing half a season’s worth. I think we might come on in midseason. I don’t know if I’m breaking news here or if I’m making something up. That’s the last thing I heard. That was the word on the street.
[Note: Fox’s Kevin Reilly confirmed that the show will return midseason. See the EW story here.]
You’ve put a lot of time into this show. How are you feeling about it coming to an end?
We’re kind of winding down and the end is near. It’s sad. It’s also kind of exciting to move on, but I’ve never been very good about wanting anything to end. I like things to go on forever and ever. I don’t know what’s going to happen with anybody, but I think we’re bringing back a lot of the cast. I think it’s going to be very solid and fun.
What would you like to happen with your character, particularly her relationship with Mario?
I hope Mario comes back, of course. That’s Chris Parnell, who played my love interest in New York. But we’ll have to see if he comes back and if that softens Sue’s heart at all. I think she’s back as principal, as far as I know. I think we’re going to have some surprises about who’s going to be the choir director of The Warblers and who will be the choir director of Vocal Adrenaline. I think it’ll be a big surprise.
Sue is such a memorable character. Looking back, do you have a favorite Sue Sylvester moment?
I love when I got to tear offices apart. I got to do this whole kind of Wagnerian destruction of the gym, of the boys’ locker room. I was just throwing stuff. That was my favorite thing. They’d kind of slow it down, make it in slow motion. There’d be “Ride of the Valkyries” in the background—that was fun. I also had some really great one-liners—some great, insulting one-liners–my favorite being, “Loving musical theater doesn’t make you gay, it just makes you awful.”
One of my favorite moments was back in season 2 when Sue’s sister, Jean, passed away and Sue breaks down. You get to see another side of her. She becomes a real person.
You also understand why she’s so damn mean. She has spent her life protecting her sister, her very vulnerable sister, from a really cruel world. To be a bully and to be violent and a warrior is the only way she knows how to do it.
What future projects do you have coming up? What is life like after Glee?
I don’t know exactly what life will be after Glee. I’m kind of letting the universe roll in at my feet, as they say in the spiritual texts. We’ll see, but I am doing a cabaret in New York this summer, so I’m going to get my feet wet in that realm and we’ll see if I want to do more of those things. I have a children’s book coming out in September called Marlene, Marlene Queen of Mean. So I’m doing little bits here and there. I’m enjoying my life. This is what’s wonderful about having a successful series under your belt: You can almost sit back—you should do this all through life—but you can kind of sit back and relax and go, yeah, I did this. I’ve done this thing that I’ve been striving my whole life to accomplish. There’s just a great release in letting life flow. That’s happening for me.
Glee is set to return for its final season in 2015.