- "The Glee Project" winner Damian McGinty played Rory Flanagan on "Glee" for 25 episodes.
- He said it was tough playing a character with Irish stereotypes, like being a "leprechaun."
- McGinty told Insider he is grateful for the experience but wishes he'd gotten to do more on "Glee."
When Derry native Damian McGinty won the first season of "The Glee Project" at just 19 years old, he knew he was bound for (at least) seven episodes of "Glee." But he didn't know who — or what — he'd be playing.
Speaking to Insider ahead of the 10th anniversary of "The Glee Project" ending, McGinty said he found playing his character, Irish exchange student/full-time "leprechaun" Rory Flanagan, "unnatural."
"What made it really, really hard is doing something that was so unbelievably untrue to what I would do in normal life — like 'top of the morning' and all these unbelievably large stereotypes are very unnatural for me," he said. "There were a couple of choices for the character that just made it feel really unnatural for me to deliver."
While starring on "Glee," McGinty's Flanagan resides with New Directions member Brittany S. Pierce (Heather Morris), whom he has a crush on. She, in turn, believes he's a leprechaun and wants him to grant her three wishes. In his opening song, McGinty sings Kermit the Frog's "Being Green," referencing his Irish heritage.
And although he doesn't blame the "Glee" writers for the character choice — he called his Irish heritage "an obvious hook" — he said his limited experience added to the difficulty of playing a stereotypical character.
McGinty had been in the entertainment world since he was 14 as a singer in the Irish band Celtic Thunder, but he said he had "never acted" outside of the few "Glee Project" challenges.
McGinty was on more than his seven promised episodes, but he felt his character was underutilized
Though McGinty's "Glee Project" win only guaranteed him seven episodes on "Glee," his character returned throughout season three.
Near the end of his run, however, McGinty said his motivation was waning — in part, because his character did a lot of "sitting in the choir room."
"Towards the end of season three, I wasn't getting utilized anywhere near where I wanted to be," he said. "I was just like, 'I don't care what you pay me. I love singing and performing. I'm not gonna sit in a choir room. You can pay me ridiculous amounts of money — I don't wanna do that.'"
"There were characters on the show that signed up for that and that's completely fine — to each their own," he continued. "But I promise you if you asked those people, 'Did you enjoy that?' If they're being totally transparent, I would bet they would say, 'Probably not.'"
Ultimately, McGinty wasn't picked up for a series regular role on season four of "Glee" and he written off on the show by way of returning to Ireland. He came back for a few season-four episodes, and though he said he was asked back for a season-six episode, McGinty couldn't make it work with his schedule.
Still, McGinty is grateful for his "Glee" experience.
"Quite honestly, I was part of 25 episodes of one of the biggest TV shows that there has ever been, and within those 25 episodes, I got to do a lot of amazing things," he said. "I really, really enjoyed myself and consider myself very lucky to have been a small part of the history of that big beast."