"Glee" stars Kevin McHale and Jenna Ushkowitz recall the show's Britney Spears tribute and how "strange" it was interacting with her just two years into her conservatorship, after she showed up on set with "a huge team around her" who would whisk her away.
Britney Spears' guest appearance on "Glee" was one of the highest rated episodes Fox's juggernaut 2010s series, as well as a hugely anticipated fan favorite.
At the time, the actors who portrayed Artie Abrams and Tina Cohen-Chang, respectively, were just hugely excited that Britney was going to be part of their show, even if she was only on set for two days (August 18 and 19).
"We find out Britney is coming onto the show, and we can't believe it," said Kevin, per Just Jared. "But it was also a little bit of, 'Is she going to come? Is she not going to come?' We weren't totally sure she was going to show up."
Jenna agreed, referring to the "rocky waters" Britney was navigating at that time with a mental health crisis triggering the conservatorship under her father just two years prior.
When she did finally make it to the set, Jenna described her as "very quite and very nice," but also "very nervous." She also said that they noticed something seemed a little off with Spears herself, aside from her obvious nerves.
"[She was] a little -- if you will, in the nicest way possible -- a little vacant," Jenna said. "I mean that in the kindest way because at that point she must have been going through so much."
As they chatted they hinted at why that might have been when referencing what they described as "a huge team around her."
The pair said that Britney was fully invested in her performance and working with co-creator Ryan Murphy to perfect the scene. "She was really trying," recalled Kevin. "She really wanted to, like, 'Oh, let me do it again.'"
"[She] had ideas -- it was great -- and then she would get whisked away," he continued. "Somebody from her team or something would take her away, and she'd come back and be again, for lack of a better word, a bit vacant."
Jenna said that direct interaction with the pop star was awkward, as well, noting, "When we would ask a question, it felt like you were talking around her and people were answering for her all the time."
They said that the consensus among the cast was that Britney really wanted to "be participating" in the episode, but they felt "she was not given the chance to participate in the way that she wanted to."
At the same time, they both agreed she had that incredible it-factor that first made her a star when she was on and performing. You can check out their recollections of the whole experience in the episode below.
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