Cory Monteith wasn’t acting when he reacted to the screening of his last film, Josh Waller’s McCanick. The Glee actor, who died at the age of 31 on Saturday, July 13, played the part of a former convict in the film, which also stars David Morse as the title character.

When Monteith screened the final cut, Waller tells Us Weekly, the actor was “moved, emotionally.”

He sent me a really beautiful email that evening just stating how much excitement he had and how much pride he had on the work that he had done," Waller shares with Us. “Which I’m glad, because I know I thought he did an incredible job… And you know sometimes for actors it’s hard to watch themselves on screen or to acknowledge when they’ve done a good job, and he didn’t come right out and say, ‘I did great!’ But he was very proud.

In the film, Monteith’s character Simon Weeks was meant to be a “young, drug addicted street hustler who is not a very good person,” a far cry from the actor’s role as chipper Finn Hudson on the hit Fox series. 

[Monteith’s agent] Sarah was like, ‘I think you should meet with Cory Monteith for this role,’ and at first I was like ‘Ehh, I don’t know,’” Waller recalls. “[But] I took the meeting, and he was just like, he won me over. He was so enthusiastic about it, and you know, what he thought he could bring to the role. …And then the second that we started shooting, like literally the moment that he was on camera, any concerns that I had were gone. Immediately gone.

Monteith even had to toggle between playing two different versions of his character, both in present day and in flashbacks, a task that he handled with great dexterity, Waller says.

According to the director, Monteith was eager to play the dual parts, perhaps because the role was something of a “cathartic experience” for the actor.

The first time that we met he was pretty open about his past, and as it turns out, I guess he’s always been very open about it, in terms of the press, which I think is very smart," Waller tells Us of their first meeting. “Which means he was accepting it, and he said that he’d never really been able to tap into his own personal history … and I think he saw the character as a bit of a — you know, here’s that chance.

And [he] looked at it as an artistic experience but also something of a cathartic experience," he adds.

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