News / Vancouver

Cory Monteith's cousin talks funeral plans, drugs, and Lea Michele

Richard Monteith has become a familiar face for the staff at Vancouver's Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel, where his cousin, 31-year-old Glee star Cory Monteith, was found dead from a toxic mix of heroin and alcohol July 13.

Sitting inside the hotel's posh Giovane Café, his phone buzzes and chimes constantly. He's been receiving hundreds of emails a day from fans and media outlets around the world since the news broke of his famous cousin's passing.

Grief-stricken, he said he has had to leave his job as an event planner and is focusing his energy instead on meeting daily with Cory's fans at the steadily growing memorial outside the hotel.

As a pair of teenage girls stand there crying, comforted by their mother, another fan stops to shake Richard's hand and offer his condolences.

Richard says he is touched by the outpouring of love and support everyone has shown him, and by the colourful mountain of cards and flowers accumulating nearby.

On Friday he granted Metro one of only a few interviews he has given this week, just hours before the start of two candlelight vigils in Vancouver and Victoria.

Photo Gallery

  • Metro/Kate Webb

    Richard Monteith is pictured at the Giovane Cafe inside the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel on Friday, July 19, 2013.

  • Metro/Kate Webb

    A teen girl wipes away tears at Cory Monteith's memorial outside the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel on Friday, July 19, 2013.

M: Will there be a funeral in Vancouver, L.A., or both?

R.M.: That's still up in the air. My aunt (Monteith's mother, Ann McGregor) is kind of in a box about it and not really talking to anybody about it, including Cory's father. So it's still undetermined... They reincarnated him (cremated him) on Tuesday... so nothing's 100 per cent for sure, I'm still waiting to hear from Ann also. I don't think she's in any rush about it."

M: Have you seen Lea Michele this week?

R.M.: I have not seen her but she was around the same area I was. She's trying to stay low. Same with the rest of the family.

M: Who is planning the funeral?

R.M.: I would say his mom has the whole hand in it over (Lea Michele), but I'm sure they're helping each other.

M: Can you talk about the last time you saw Cory?

R.M.: I saw him when he was here in April for a few days. We just went out and had a bite to eat and a few drinks, talked: The normal when he comes. We were really close. We're first cousins and he was like my mentor, you know? I'm an aspiring actor and he gave me all of his contacts here and he would always mentor me and lead me. He was always there.

M: Did he ever talk about his struggles with drugs?

R.M.: It was something that he kind of battled by himself, even though he's public about it. It was always kind of kept quiet, especially to me, because he had kind of a "Master Splinter" vibe with me. He would always just try to be straight-laced and we'd have a few drinks and he wouldn't really talk about problems and stuff.

M: He was always very open with the media about it.

R.M.: Yeah, he's always done that and he's always told his story for that reason, for inspiration, to let people see that it's OK to get help and it's OK to have problems, 'cause everybody does.

M: Did you or anyone else in the family have any idea that he was taking heroin before the coroner released the results of the autopsy?

R.M.: No. Some of us probably had an idea, but I was just always thinking positive.

M: Is there any truth to the rumour that Cory and Lea Michele were planning on getting married in a couple of weeks?

R.M.: I couldn't tell you that, but it wouldn't surprise me. Their lives revolved around each other. Work and outside of work, they're always together. I do know that they planned on moving in together. I don't know for a fact (if they were engaged), but it wouldn't surprise me if that was the case.

M: What was your reaction to the coroner's results?

R.M.: It was awful, you know? It was hard to take. It still doesn't seem real. It's still just as hard.

M: Do you have any questions that you would still like answered?

R.M.: There's going to be tons of stuff that runs in my head, but it's up to me to conquer that, as well with anyone else who was close to him. There's a million questions in my head, but it's not really about that. It's about him and his great legacy that he's left. (Tears up).

M: What's getting you through this?

R.M.: A lot of positive feedback from his fans is what it is, because I was horrified that people were going to put the focus on the negative part of it, and they're not. It makes me happy to talk to his fans, because they're such positive young people... Glee's a younger audience, and older too, but just the words of encouragement and their condolences and their positivity about it is what's been helping me a lot. There's people reaching out and telling about their family members who have similar problems and how they're getting through it, and they wish me the best, and how Cory's their hero, too, and he's changed a lot of lives. He saved a lot of lives too, by just this, by creating a lot of awareness and almost hatred for what happened drug-wise. People will definitely veer away, more so. It was a big lesson.

M: How much time did Cory spend in Vancouver?

R.M.: On and off quite a bit. Maybe a quarter, creeping on half. He's a B.C. boy. He loves it here... We would just go to eat or we would always go to Spanish Banks and go skim boarding, that's kind of our thing, and just hang out... It was always a pleasure to be out with him, to experience that with him.

*This interview has been edited and condensed.

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