Cory Monteith, who plays Finn Hudson on "Glee," might appear naive and innocent on the show, but the actor had a rocky start and said in a recent interview that he struggled with a "serious" drug problem.
"I'm not Finn Hudson," Monteith told Parade magazine. "Finn started off as the stereotypical dumb jock but as the show has gone on, Finn's not dumb anymore, really, he's just a little naïve. The opposite of me."
Monteith told Parade that his parents divorced when he was 7 and by the time he was 13, the actor was skipping school to get drunk and smoke pot in his native British Columbia.
By 16, Monteith had dropped out of school after attending 12 different ones, including some that included programs for troubled teens. He said he was "out of control" and his drug use had escalated to "anything and everything," using "as much as possible."
I had a serious problem," he said.
The actor's mother and friends staged an intervention when he was 19 and Monteith entered rehab when he was afraid he "could die," but Monteith went back to using drugs upon his release. He didn't clean up until after he hit his rock bottom.
"I stole a significant amount of money from a family member," he said. "I knew I was going to get caught, but I was so desperate I didn't care. It was a cry for help. I was confronted and I said, 'Yeah, it was me.' It was the first honorable, truthful thing that had come out of my mouth in years."
Monteith was given an ultimatum: get clean or get reported to the police.
"I was done fighting myself," he said. "I finally said, 'I'm gonna start looking at my life and figure out why I'm doing this.'"
Monteith turned his life around, working as a roofer while taking acting classes. He appeared in shows like "Kyle XY," "Smallville," "Supernatural" and "Stargate Atlantis" before being cast as Finn Hudson in "Glee" in 2009.
"I don't want kids to think it's okay to drop out of school and get high, and they'll be famous actors, too," Monteith said. "But for those people who might give up: Get real about what you want and go after it. If I can, anyone can."
In the spring, Monteith received a high school diploma from an alternative school he attended in Victoria, British Columbia.
The cast of "Glee" began a summer concert tour of the United States, the United Kingdom and Ireland in May. A concert documentary shot during the tour entitled "Glee Live! 3D!" is slated for release in theaters nationwide on August 12, 2011.
Like his "Glee" cast-members Naya Rivera, Matthew Morrison and Mark Salling, Monteith has begun working on a solo career. The actor signed a deal with Columbia Records, but is waiting for an "organic" moment to work on his first album.
Monteith is also the drummer in the Los Angeles-based indie rock band Bonnie Dune.
The actor appears in the upcoming film "Monte Carlo," which hits theaters on July 1. The film also stars Selena Gomez, Leighton Meester and Kate Cassidy.