Matthew Morrison on His Message to Naya Rivera's Family After Her Tragic Death (Exclusive)
By Antoinette Bueno
Keith Mayhew/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
Matthew Morrison is thinking about Naya Rivera's family, following her devastating death in July. ET's Keltie Knight spoke with Morrison -- who starred with Rivera on Glee -- on Wednesday, and he shared his memories from working with her on the hit Fox musical series.
Rivera was found dead in Lake Piru in Ventura County, California, on July 13, following a boating trip with her 4-year-old son, Josey, the week prior. Rivera's death certificate later confirmed that her cause of death was drowning.
Morrison shared with ET that Rivera made her fellow cast members -- Lea Michele, Amber Riley, Darren Criss and more -- laugh on the Glee set.
"Naya was a huge bright light," he says. "I mean, she's someone who kind of kept us in stitches on set, like, she was always the one who is just so witty and just, like, always joking. On that show, it was difficult. We pulled long, long hours -- like 16 to 18 hour days -- and we needed that, that team morale, and she was always there to give us a good laugh."
"It's crazy saying 'was,'" he continues. "But she was a special person and my heart just goes out to that family who is grieving. I can't imagine, you know, having a son myself, the upbringing that that child is going to be exposed to because his mother is not there, you know? It's gotta be so tough, so my heart goes out to that family."
Morrison also talked to ET about his work with Keep Music Alive, a music education non-profit organization. He's the official spokesperson for the 5th Annual Kids Music Day event on Oct. 2, which benefits and celebrates kids playing music, while highlighting the importance of including music in children's education.
"Keep Music Alive is this organization that I have loved for a while, they asked me to spearhead this campaign for them this year," he shares. "This year, because of the pandemic, there are a lot of online things like free music classes -- they have these instrument petting zoos where you can look at different music instruments and see what they do."
"Music, for me, has been such a huge part of my life. I would not be where I am today without music, and I just want to give back and support music, because it is so important to give instruments and music training into kids' hands, but also adult hands, you know?"
"My wife and I, throughout the whole pandemic, we started to learn how to play the piano, which has been so incredibly hard," he continues. "I have so much respect for our music directors and everyone I know who plays piano. I think it would have been much easier if I had learned as a child, but music for children I think is so great -- not only learning an instrument, but also in your core curriculum like math and science and all that stuff, and you develop the great social skills. It is very therapeutic, so, I don't really think there are any downsides to kids having instruments and learning music."
Morrison is currently in Hawaii, spending quality time with his wife, Renee Puente, and their 2-year-old son, Revel.
"There's been a lot of, I think time, and just sitting still with myself," he shares about being in quarantine amid the coronavirus pandemic. "I think I've been able to do a lot of self introspection. That's been really amazing and for my journey of being just, a better man -- a better man for my wife, for others. I'm surrounded by my child and just really kind of, just going in and doing the work, you know? ... I think just asking yourself the hard questions [like] what ultimately is your goal? What do you want to leave the world, you know? I want to leave this world better than I found it, which is a big task."