‘The Glee Project’s Matheus Talks Guts and Naming Names

Matheus Fernandes of 'The Glee Project' (Photo: Oxygen)

Matheus Fernandes of 'The Glee Project' (Photo: Oxygen)

Standing out from the crowd of talented, young triple-threats on “The Glee Project” should have been no easy task, but Matheus Fernandes took no time establishing himself as a competition favorite. He won two homework challenges in the first three episodes, and even when he landed in the last-chance rounds, Ryan Murphy repeatedly said he could see himself writing a part for Matheus on “Glee.”

But by the end of episode five, Matheus had taken his final bow as a “GP” contender. Did trying to live up to Murphy’s vision of Matheus as a sexy leading man prevent him from shining in his own way?

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“I did feel uncomfortable with it, but I don’t know,” Matheus admitted in a conference call Monday. “That’s the kind of character he envisioned for me if I ever made it into the show.” He continued, saying that as a fan of “Glee” with dreams of being a performer, he thought, “’Well, I guess whatever he wants, I guess I’ll try to impersonate that character.’”

Matheus called the experience of trying to inhabit such a persona nerve-racking, but he said, “I kind of saw how many guts I have to do that on national TV,” which was a pleasant surprise. He was also quick to add, “I wasn’t forced into doing it.”

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So nobody made him do anything he didn’t want to do, but Matheus was given more pointed suggestions than we saw when the shows aired. Remember how his performance of “Down” resembled the beginnings of a strip tease? “Ryan Murphy, he was the one that asked me to take my shirt off. That didn’t make it into the edits, but he was the one that told me to do that,” said Matheus.

The 20-year-old contender is grateful to Murphy for noticing his lack of confidence and urging him out of his “little shell.” The thing Matheus appreciates about the way Murphy has written “Glee” is how it “praised everybody’s uniqueness and differences and highlighted that in a positive light.” This is a strategy that Matheus, who stands 4’9” tall, is quite familiar with. “The way I feel comfortable with [my height] is by talking about it and joking about it,” he said.

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That shiny, happy “Glee” spirit of supporting everyone doesn’t always translate over to “The Glee Project,” but Matheus did find at least one champion. “You know, Damian is like my little big brother, so… [his] defending me like that, I really appreciated it,” he said. Damian’s defense led to a long conversation with the mentors about who was picking on Matheus, most of which Matheus said was edited out of the episode we saw. He was uncomfortable being put on the spot, but he named Alex anyway.

“I love Alex,” Matheus emphasized Monday. He said the pressure of the competition “sometimes might have made the worst in him come out a little bit.” But he followed up with, “I don’t think anything against him, and obviously… I’m not saying I was right either.” The two texted each other Sunday night after the episode aired. “We’re cool now,” said Matheus.

When asked whom he’d like to see win the competition, Matheus answered candidly, “The folks that I became fond of were Damian, Sam, Hannah,” before quickly adding, “but I love all of them.”

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