Another quantum leap for ​"Glee" star Jane Lynch


The wise-cracking actress is taking a crack at something else - cabaret.

CBS News

Jane Lynch, who gets in a lot of zingers in the TV show "Glee," is pretty outspoken in real life as well, as Lee Cowan now shows us in this Sunday Profile:

When actress Jane Lynch goes for a hike in the Hollywood hills, it's all about the view ("I think this is the most gorgeous landscape I've ever seen"), not so much the workout.

"I'm actually exercise-adverse," she said. "I tell my body everyday, I say, 'This is what you're getting, and you're lucky you're getting this much!'"

Exercise-adverse, perhaps, but she certainly knows how to rock a track suit.

She plays Sue Sylvester, the fearsome cheerleading coach on Fox's hit series, "Glee," who is full of venomous one-liners:

"I'm going to ask you to smell your arm pits. That's the smell of failure, and it's stinking up my office."
"So, you like show tunes? Doesn't mean you're gay. It just means you're awful."

And yet, she's still somehow likable.

Jane Lynch as Sue Sylvester in "Glee." Fox

Cowan asked, "Is there a little bit of Sue in you?"

"Oh yes! Oh my God, yes! I don't think I could play Sue Sylvester if that person didn't live in me somewhere."

"Are there some of Sue's put-downs that are your favorite?"

"That are my favorite? Yeah, I love 'I'm gonna get you a kitty cat, I'm gonna let you fall in love with that kitty cat. And then, on soem dark, cold night, I'm going to come into your house and punch you in the face,' which makes almost no sense!

"But it's soooo perfect!" she laughed.

But now, this wise-cracking actress is taking a crack at something else: Cabaret.

"I don't think anything makes me happier than singing, and I'm not a great singer," Lynch said. "But it just fills me with such joy. It, like, massages my soul. Music transcends me."

Cowan caught up with her rehearsing for her first show, starting later this week at New York's 54 Below, a supper club just off Broadway.

Is she nervous? "I think I'm appropriately nervous," she replied. "As much as my insides were screaming 'Noooooo!' I said, 'Yes, I'll do it.'"

There's no doubt she's got the pipes. Last year, she carried a tune for the blustery Miss Hannigan in the Broadway revival of "Annie."

Jane Lynch grew up knowing she wanted to perform. She was born into a middle-class Irish-Catholic household just south of Chicago.

She always had a sense of humor, but it came with a healthy dose of social anxiety, too. "I knew from about age 12 that I was gay," Lynch said. "And I didn't know anybody else who was gay. So yeah, that is socially isolating, because you can't let people know you completely."

"Did you feel lonely?" Cowan asked.

"Yeah, I felt very lonely. I mean, there was nobody like me."

That isolation lead to a nasty habit of drinking. Not necessarily more than others, but too much, she says, for her.

"Everybody I went to high school with, we all drank every week. I mean, when I was in high school, I was drinking every night."

And what was her drink of choice? "Miller Light!" she laughed. "I wasted an entire drinking career on Miller Light!"

Still, her dream of making people laugh was so clear, that she pushed herself to try out for a high school play.

"It was a one-act version of ''The Princess and the Pea,' called 'The Ugly Duckling,' and I played the King. And I killed in the audition. And I remember the first rehearsal, I did the same thing and I didn't get a laugh, and I quit."

"So what did you think when you quit? You thought that was it?"

"Yeah, and you know, I kind of got a reputation at my high school as a quitter," said Lynch. "So I was not cast for a couple of years. And it was terrible. It was just awful."

So what snapped her back?

"I remember saying to myself, 'I'll never quit anything ever again. Ever. I'd rather fail and look like a fool than not do it.'"

She wasn't done with quitting everything, however. Nearly two decades later -- ready to down a glass of wine -- she suddenly got the urge to pour it down the drain instead.

"I started going to AA. I was never tempted to pick up a drink ever again," she said. "In fact, it freaked me out that people left AA and got drunk again. I was like, 'Why would you do that?'

"And it's 22 years later and I haven't had a drink."

And that's when it all started to click. Friendships flourished, and in time, romance.