'Glee' Star Jane Lynch's Long Road To Fame

Jane Lynch in 'Glee' i

The Underminer: Jane Lynch steals scenes in Fox's Glee as Sue Sylvester, a conniving, competitive chearleading coach. Carin Baer/Fox hide caption

itoggle caption Carin Baer/Fox
Jane Lynch in 'Glee'

The Underminer: Jane Lynch steals scenes in Fox's Glee as Sue Sylvester, a conniving, competitive chearleading coach.

Carin Baer/Fox

This week on Fresh Air, we're marking the year's end by revisiting some of the most memorable conversations we've had in 2009.

Jane Lynch describes the character she plays on the television series Glee as "power hungry, ruthless, cruel, delicious, and self-confident." As Sue Sylvester, Lynch plays a cutthroat cheerleading coach who's quick to let the series' hero, glee-club adviser Will Schuester, know who's in charge.

Glee isn't the first time Lynch has stolen the spotlight. Lynch got her start in commercials, but quickly moved on to acting in television. Her list of credits includes The L Word, Married...With Children, Gilmore Girls, 7th Heaven, Arrested Development and Desperate Housewives.

Through television, Lynch fell into a friendship with director Christopher Guest. "I was doing a commercial for Kellogg's Frosted Flakes, and he directed it," Lynch tells Terry Gross. Christopher Guest is known for mockumentaries like Best in Show and A Mighty Wind, many of which are based in improvisational dialogue.

"[Guest] directs commercials all the time. He loves doing that. And we did [the commercial] a la GuffmanWaiting For Guffman. It was improvised and everything."

Lynch ran into Guest a few months later to read for his new film, Best In Show. The part she won, as the hyperactive, lesbian dog trainer, both launched her film career and allowed her to own her identity as a gay actress. "I never hid who I was. I also didn't lead with it ... I wanted an easy life. And you know what? I am gay and still have any easy life."

Since Best Lynch has appeared in a variety of films from Judd Apatow's 40 Year Old Virgin to this year's Julie & Julia.

This interview was originally broadcast November 4, 2009.

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