In her six seasons on Glee, Lea Michele went from high school diva to Broadway star, but she’s back in school mode—college this time—in a wildly different role in Scream Queens, about a sorority house where murder is a weekly occurrence.

The comedy-horror mash-up from the Glee creative team of Ryan Murphy and his co-creators/writers/directors/producers Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan casts Michele as the geeky, dumpy Heather Ulrich, a misfit in a neck brace who pledges Kappa Kappa Tau under the Dean’s (Jamie Lee Curtis) new open admission rule—to the horror of Chanel Oberlin (Emma Roberts) and her mean girl minions.

With a considerable body count in the two-hour Sept. 22 premiere (9/8C) that only promises to rise, Michele may not make it through the season, but she’s having a great time shooting in New Orleans, as she explains.

“In some ways the neck brace is challenging but in other ways it really does help to create a uniqueness for the character that I’m very excited about.”

How does this compare to Glee?
This is a completely different world. Coming from Glee and performing and dancing and singing was challenging in many ways. This is also very challenging, working with the balance of the horror and the comedy. Brad and Ryan and Ian, their writing is so specific and so smart. It takes a really good actor, I think, to be able to take on that writing and they’ve enlisted the greatest cast of actors who can really take on their words. We have many of our crewmembers from Glee as well as wardrobe, hair and a lot of our directors. 

What is it like wearing the neck brace?
In some ways it’s challenging but in other ways it really does help to create a uniqueness for the character that I’m very excited about.

You’ve moved from the high school to a college world here—progress?
I’m very happy that I can still play young! I definitely feel so happy and so strong in my life right now and I’m so grateful to Ryan to giving me this amazing opportunity.

Lea-Michele-neck-brace

What do you think of your co-stars?
I feel so supported by them all. Emma Roberts is my girl. She’s one of the greatest actresses out there right now. She challenges me as an actress because just to have someone who every day comes prepared, knows their lines and really gives it to you on every take, you have to be your absolute best. Jamie Lee Curtis is incredible, not only as an actress, as a person. She gives us gifts. She spoils us, she takes care of us and it really creates a positive, warm vibe on the set, which is really important especially the fact that we’re away from our families and homes, living in New Orleans.

What do you love about working there?
The food is amazing. it’s really wonderful. Emma’s taken me to some great places being that she’d worked there doing American Horror Story. We have to work out in order to eat and not become the size of a house. It’s hard being away from home, I will say. But you really have to focus on your work because you’re not surrounded by any of those daily life distractions. So it’s all about the show.

Any chance we’ll see you sing with Ariana Grande?
No. I want to sing with her so bad, just not on this show. Maybe in a concert somewhere.

What are your favorite horror movies?
The Strangers, Halloween and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Love those.

What’s your definition of the perfect gentleman?
My dad. He’s the greatest guy in the whole world and he’s made me laugh every day of my whole life and that is so important to me.

Lead photo by Frank Micelotta/Fox
Second photo by Skip Bolen/Fox

Join thousands of men and women who are dressing up for a good cause. Go formal with Made Man and Career Gear on Friday, October 9th to help empower men in need with resources, training and suits they can use to rejoin the workforce. Because for every photo posted to Instagram or Twitter and tagged #FormalFriday, we’ll donate a dollar to Career Gear. Learn more at mademan.com/formal-friday.