When Gwyneth Paltrow stepped onto the Glee set as relief teacher Holly Holliday, she created a stir. The show’s co-creator Ryan Murphy, a personal friend of Paltrow’s, had written the sexy character into the script as a means for the actress to show her singing and dancing abilities – she did, after all, have a film coming out called Country Strong (where she played a country singer).
It would be Paltrow’s first foray into television and it was so well received that she picked up the 2011 Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress In A Comedy Series. It was also where she met her current husband Glee co-creator Brad Falchuk.
Paltrow’s performance of Cee-Lo Green’s “Forget You” was definitely her shining Glee moment (she even sang it on stage with the Elton John-inspired artist at the 2011 Grammy Awards in heels that hindered her performance).
“Excuse me, what would you know about Cee Lo because you’re like 40,” an acid-tongued Santana Lopez (played by Naya Rivera) asked Holly Holliday in an episode of Glee.
“Top 40, Sweet Cheeks. Hit it!” replied Holly. Watch the performance here.
But it was a very special rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide”, performed by Paltrow, Rivera and Heather Morris (who played Brittany Pierce) that was TV-changing. Millions tuned in to watch Santana and Brittany fall in love, a positive representation of a relationship between two LGBT women at a time when that storyline wasn’t really on television.
“Remembering beautiful @nayarivera today. Getting to sing in this trio with her was such a special moment,” posted Paltrow alongside the below video. “I am in utter shock and disbelief that someone so full of life and passion and talent is no longer with us. And completely heartbroken for her family.”
Rivera, 33, was reported missing last week after her four-year-old son was found alone in a boat she had rented at Lake Piru, an hour’s drive from Los Angeles. Her body was found on Monday.
“We know from speaking with her son that he and Naya swam in the lake together at some point during their journey,” the Ventura Country sheriff said during a press conference on Monday. “It was during that time that her son described being helped into the boat by Naya who boosted him onto the deck from behind. He told investigators that he looked back and saw her disappear under the surface of the water.”
“There are a lot of currents on the lake that appear particular in the afternoon,” the sheriff continued. “We believe it was mid-afternoon when she disappeared. The idea being perhaps that the boat started drifting, it was unanchored, and that she mustered enough energy to get her son back onto the boat but not enough to save herself.”
An autopsy has confirmed Rivera died from accidental drowning and gave no indication that drugs or alcohol played any role in her death.
“Naya was more than just an actor on our show – she was our friend,” producers Murphy, Falchuk and Ian Brennan said in a statement on Tuesday. “It didn’t take more than an episode or two for us to realise that we had lucked into finding one of the most talented, special stars we would ever have the pleasure of working with… she could nail a joke as well as she could crush you with an emotional scene… She was a joy to write for, a joy to direct and a joy to be around.”
While the tributes for Rivera have poured in, my favourite was that of Glee co-star Chris Colfer who played Kurt Hummel on the show. “Being close to her was both a badge of honour and a suit of armour,” he wrote. “Her brilliance and humour were unmatched. Her beauty and talent were otherworldly. She spoke truth to power with poise and fearlessness. She could turn a bad day into a great day with a single remark. She inspired and uplifted people without even trying.”
I wonder how we would all be remembered by our friends? Food for thought on your Thursday.