'Glee' newbie Vanessa Lengies on Sugar's upcoming revenge (of sorts) and her scary moment with Idina Menzel


Image Credit: Adam Rose/Fox

Basking in the Glee glow hasn’t been as easy as one would think for new cast member Vanessa Lengies, who made her debut on the show last night as delusional high schooler, Sugar. As fans (about 8 million of them) were settling down to watch the premiere episode, Lengies was wrapping up a seven-hour dance rehearsal with her new Glee castmates and rushing to make it to her Glee premiere party (thrown by her BFF, Life Unexpected creator Liz Tigelaar). No rest for those who love Wicked.

Slightly rested up (and very sore), Lengies called EW earlier today to chat about her new (somewhat polarizing) role, tease what’s next for the character (scenes with Idina Menzel!), and talk about her surprising heroic moment on set (hint: bagels are dangerous).

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So, Sugar is an odd character, and that’s saying a lot considering the collection of characters we have on Glee.
VANESSA LENGIES: What I like about her is that she’s so strange is that everyone — even on set — has ideas about what Sugar should be and do.

Well, once they told you who she was going to be — a talentless, self-diagnosed person with Asperger Syndrome — what did you think of that?
When I got the audition, it was written she was going to be the new bitch. And, well, I have experience playing the bitch role. [Laughs] But I wanted to make her different. When I went in for the audition, [Glee director] Eric Stoltz was in there, and they weren’t sure who Sugar was going to be. And when we were on set, it was the same thing. We tried this and tried that. So I was excited to see the show, too, because I wanted to see what version they were going to go with. It was just really fun. I wanted her to be a little more dynamic.

Were you worried about the Asperger joke at all? That seemed to garner a strong reaction among some viewers.
No, I wasn’t. I think that’s something Glee does very well. It talks about and addresses and touches on issues that are very sensitive to most people, but having the issues talked about on such a high-exposure show, it bring things to people’s conversation. I like that a lot about Glee.

Is that an aspect of the character we’re going to dig into deeper in the next few episodes?
Eric and I had this conversation where we weren’t sure if she has it or…I’m not sure to what degree it is until I see more [scripts]. But we definitely touch on it again. So far, to my knowledge, we don’t go into the depths of Sugar’s background yet, but it is part of her character.

I liked the scene where Schue (Matthew Morrison) told her she couldn’t be in the club and she held her ground in this really delusional way. How is she going to come roaring back from that attempted reality check in the next episodes.
I think she’s talked herself out of it. I think she believes 100 percent that he didn’t know what he was talking about. I think it’s the first time she’s ever been told she was a bad singer. I think, at first, she was a little vulnerable. But she shrugged it off and said, “Fine. I’ll find another way. If you don’t want to work with me, you can be replaced!”

Is she going to be a bitch to the entire club, or focus her efforts on Schue?
It’s a form of revenge. I don’t know what I can say! It’s not the typical way of getting back at people. It’s her own way. And it’s not totally revenge, it’s more like, “No, I’m going to be a star. That’s what’s happening.”

So you were on American Dreams and showed your pipes on there. How was it to turn all of that off for this role?
My trick was just to be as committed as humanly possible to the song. It was much easier to do it in the audition because I was doing it a capella. Then when I got there, Brad [Ellis], the piano guy whose hair I ruffle in that scene, he and I had to rehearse. And it was such a shocker that once he started playing the song on the piano, it was harder for me to try to sing it wrong. I was thinking in my mind, “Why do we need a rehearsal for a bad song?” And then I was, like, “Oh! I understand.” And they did it differently because all the songs are pre-recorded on the show. And they thought it would be best if I did it live. So I just did the whole thing live.

I found the hair ruffle and dance hilarious. Did they tell you to do that or was any of it improv?
Everything was improv. My dance, everything. [Glee choreographer Zach Woodley] was so funny. I love working with him. He had me do it for him, and once it saw it, he was like, “Yeah. You’re good.” [Laughs] So the kicks, the butt wiggle [dramatic tone], “It just came to me,” as the actors would say.

So do you have any favorite scenes so far? Anything you’re excited for people to see?
Yes, but I don’t know how they’re going to edit it. I don’t know if they’re going to cut my favorite part out or not. I have a scene with Idina, and I was improvising and it turned into this super fun thing. I honestly don’t know what I can say! I tweeted about Idina [when] she choked on a bagel, and I helped her to breathe again — it was super scary! But all the responses were, “OMG! Spoiler!” “OMG! Spoiler!” “Idina Menzel is back on Glee!” And my heart dropped to my stomach because I thought I’d done something really wrong. They’re very hush-hush. But, anyway, the scene we did is in episode 4.

Wait, so she chokes on a bagel in the scene?!
No, that happened in the makeup trailer, where she was eating a bagel. That was real life.

How scary!
It was. But it was funny after.

Yeah, once you realized you hadn’t killed the extremely talented woman.
Yeah, [mocking herself] “Once she was alive, everything was funny!” [Laughs]

Read more:
Zooey Deschanel’s ‘New Girl’ opens big; ‘Glee’ dips
‘Glee’ spoilers! Ryan Murphy unveils premiere episode, vows to ‘never say people are leaving’
‘Glee’ scoop: Chris Colfer talks intense new season (It’s already landed him in the hospital!)

Comments (56 total) Add your comment
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  • justsayin

    uh hurray for 26 yr olds playing 17 yr olds?

    • Katherine

      You mean just like everyone else on the show is doing? Finn is nearly 30…

      • justsayin

        yes katherine just like all the others on the show… i take it sarcasm isnt your strong suit huh?

    • c

      newbies other then Darren Criss, don’t fail well on this show, look at Chord Overstreet and the girl they announced last year, what did he last like 3 or 4 shows, and they really disrespected Chord in the explanation given for his departure, calling him trouty mouth one last time, and referring to him as so last june, YUK..giving up on Glee!

      • Amanda

        Chord left. He chose not to renew his contract. They actually had plans for him and he chose not to be a regular cast member this season.

      • Laura K.

        I think you mean “don’t fare well.”

      • Mike Shugert

        Laura, I’m an editor, so I notice these things as well. I’d suggest not correcting every spelling error you see online. It’s fruitless and comes across as smug.

      • kellylee

        Um, Amanda is wrong. Chord was given 10 episodes. Only Darren and Harry were upgraded to regular cast. They didnt give Chord a regular cast role, and he chose to walk away and move on to other things.. and judging from the premiere episode thank goodness he did. I went to watch NCIS that night and after hearing how awful the episode was saw it on line the next day and was right not to watch it that night. And I dont plan on watching the rest of the season either.

    • My son is also named Bort

      Oh for god’s sake! Ever watched the OLD 90210?

    • steph

      you say that like it’s a new thing.

    • RLRose328

      Sure, it’s called ACTING. If an actor can pull of a role that is 10 years younger, why not?

  • chattypatra

    I loved Vanessa on American Dreams (a show I wish had had a longer run), and was curious about her role on Glee. It was great to see her on the show and I hope they use her talents accordingly.

  • nodnarb

    Wait, that ‘s a recurring character?! This show is terrible. Why do I continue to watch it?

  • val greeley

    So dissappointed with new character Sugar and shows portrayal of self-diagnosed Aspergers…it was not funny at all….I hope the writers change her backstory to just being a RichDaddy’s girl with a bad attitude..You can be a Brat without having to blame it on a disability!

    • Kris

      I think that’s the point though. She’s so delusional she can’t wrap her head around the fact she might be talentless and strange without blaiming it on something else. She’s not suppose to be likable.

    • Strepsi

      It’s a real American condition (self-diagnosed “conditions” as excuses). Have you ever noticed how many stars claim to be dyslexic? Almost ALL of them, so if they ever mispronounce a word or screw up while reading they have an excuse.

      I think her character is funny, and VERY American star system. It’s a parody if this whole “If I believe strong enough, anything is possible!” U.S. attitude that Brits like Simon Cowell could never comprehend.

  • Marcus

    I thought she was one of the Glee Project losers. I mean winners. No, wait, I meant losers.

    • RLRose328

      No… that was Lindsay Pearce, who played Harmony, the lead gal at the NYADA mixer that Rachel and Kurt attended. They sang “Anything Goes.”

    • Terri

      If you don’t have nice comments and you don’t like the show then why are you wasting your time. Personally I am not interested in your negativity

  • fish eye no miko

    “No, I wasn’t. I think that’s something Glee does very well”

    Oh, you’re serious.


    Sorry, but unless it has to do with homosexuality (and I mean “homosexuality” specifically, NOT general LGBT issues), “Glee” really doesn’t handle social issues well.

  • Jake

    so much haters! just stop watching Glee and go do something else with your lives!
    anyways, i cant wait to see more of Sugar she was funny, in a weird awkward way that worked imo. lol

  • enigmatic

    She doesn’t have Asperger’s, she has Territs. The show should have wrote it appropriately.

    • Ian

      No, Tourettes Syndrome would have had her shouting out bad words randomly, accompanied by random body ticks.

      The “Self-Diagnosed Aspeger’s” was appropriate because it is that character’s way of claiming she can’t process social situations or how to be nice to give her license to be rude and self-centered

      I think it is a funny bit that in no way makes fun of people with Asperger’s but rather people that are jerks.

      • RLRose328

        Best explanation I’ve seen. :-)

      • Freak Liberation Front-er

        What you’re failing to understand here, is that there’s already a stereotype about self-diagnosed Asperger’s out there, and it perpetuates that, and the myth that anyone claiming to be an Aspie is just using it as an excuse for poor behavior. That’s a stereotype that makes our lives more difficult, and it was not appropriate to perpetuate it.

    • Joe

      Amen! I’m an aspie myself and I was horrified by her portrayal.

  • Lisa

    I used to watch her on Radio Active on YTV…haha.

  • Robert

    As the parent of a child with Aspergers who has been bullied throughout school, my wife and I HATED the new supposedly “self-diagnosed Aspergers” character. Her arc was not funny, not clever, and very mean spirited. Didn’t seem very much like Glee at all. The musical numbers were pretty great, but we hope this character follows Chord Overstreet out of town quickly!

    • Traci

      You have a problem with this new character because it directly effects you and your family but you seem to have had no problem with them making fun of gays, jews, downs syndrome, asians, etc. The list could go on forever.

      • Freak Liberation Front-er

        Hi. I have a problem with this character and have a problem with the show’s hipster racism, hypocritical transphobia, gay stereotyping, etc etc.

    • Laura

      They never said she had Aspergers – she had SELF-DIAGNOSED Aspergers…. in other words, she doesn’t have it at all.

      • Rock Golf

        Then I hope someone on the show clearly points out that she has nothing like Aspergers, because a lot of real people with Aspergers have enough to deal with already without this crap.

    • Psac

      It’s obvious she’s as delusional about her alleged Aspergers as she is about her alleged ability to sing. I’m sure someone will call her out on the Aspergers soon enough, as Will did about her singing.


    …because Sue Sylvester has become a tired, annoying character, despite being played by a brilliant actress.
    …because the characters change personalities to fit whatever the “theme of the week” is, rather than the other way around.
    …because Quinn’s story arc in season 1 was very interesting to me and then in season 2 they just completely ignored all of the changes she went through (including her wonderful, unusual friendship with Mercedes).
    …because the characters of color are consistently neglected, and after waiting two years for them to give a real storyline to Mercedes (and more than 2 lines to Tina), I am convinced that they never will, and it will be All-Wonderbread-White All The Time.
    …because the tribute episodes and guest stars detracted from the show, instead of adding to it.
    …because Santanna and Britanny were GREAT when they were small parts, but are not 3-dimensional enough to sustain the large roles they have been given.
    …because the show’s recurring use of disabled characters is usually done in ways that exploitative and manipulative.
    …because, after watching him in interviews, I learned just how insufferable and annoying Ryan Murphy actually is.
    …because they made a 3D movie out of something that had no reason to be 3D except to rape our wallets.
    …because Mr. Schuster is the most condescending and inept teacher I have ever seen on television.

    • Molly


    • RCB

      I agree on all 10, but I’m still watching. It’s still fun, as long as you don’t take it too seriously.

    • stuffit

      Only reason left to watch is Heather Morris’ dancing.

  • Mike Shugert

    For me, Sugar was the one “false note” on an otherwise solid premiere. Maybe she’ll grow on us. Or hopefully not be around for long…..

  • Laura

    I didn’t find the character any more unbelievable than Santana or Kurt or Rachel for that matter. I just hope they will make the “self-diagnosed” part of her asperbergers more front and center because absolutely nothing about her character correctly reflects asperbergers syndrome.

  • Me

    Sorry to all the parents with children with Aspergers who were upset by the character. But as a school psychologist in the middle school, I see it all the time… kids at that age blaming any poor behavior on their disability (be it Aspergers or ADHD). So I thought it was hilarious. No, not all children. But some definitely use their “label” as a crutch.

    • Jane

      You say the word “some”, and I think that’s the key word. AS is already misunderstood enough as it is, and as people who put up with it every day we don’t need yet another misunderstanding by the public. They tend to generalize: if introduced to someone who has AS, for example, they may or may not understand that everyone with AS is different and all have different expressions of symptoms. And sadly, a lot of people get a large majority of their knowledge of ASDs through media, and in the media symptoms are often very exaggerated. You can think it’s funny all you want, but for people who aren’t “school psychologists” who actually have to deal with the misinformed public, it’s immature and not all that funny in the slightest. I can appreciate AS jokes, but this just wasn’t funny.

      • Abbey

        My thoughts exactly. I have AS and I don’t appreciate having to deal with this stereotype.

    • Freak Liberation Front-er

      Excuse me- why are you apologizing to our parents? Why can’t you talk to us? We’re people. We exist. We have voices. We have ears. Talk to us. Don’t apologize to our parents. Nobody stereotyped our parents here. Apologize to us.

  • tommymommy

    Not sure about Sugar yet, but you can bet I will be watching EVERY episode to see how it plays out. I look forward to Glee every week and being entertained by such talented people.

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