Naya Rivera Issues Statement on Cory Monteith, Requests Privacy for Cast

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For the first time since Cory Monteith's passing, a key cast member has spoken out on the actor's shocking death.

"The entire Glee family and I are deeply saddened by this tragedy. Cory was and always will be a part of my own family and a good friend," Naya Rivera said in a statement today, adding:

"He was a special part of this world and will forever be missed. My heart goes out to Cory's family and Lea and while we are grateful for everyone's well wishes, privacy during this time of grief is greatly appreciated."

Finn and Santana on Xmas

Lea Michele released a brief statement through her rep yesterday, while various other co-stars have expressed their shock and sadness via Twitter.

Rivera and Monteith shared many memorable scenes throughout the show's first four seasons, including such collaborative covers as "Like a Virgin" and "The Scientist."

A source close to the set tells E! News, meanwhile, that everyone is simply in shock and it's "too soon" to have any idea how Monteith's dealt with be dealt with on Glee Season 5.

The issue pales in comparison to real-life issues, but it will need to be addressed at some point soon. What do you think the show should do about Finn?

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I think they should do a sensitive, well written show about his death. I don't know if he should necessarily die from what he actually died from in real life, but they could have him re-join the military and be killed as a hero, or something like that. Give him a nice send off. He will be missed.

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I was shocked by the news. i love Glee and Cory monteith, and his character Fin was amazing. I think they should write him out and give him a classy tribute, showing some of his wonderful scenes from the series. Killing him off is too much, I think.

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You know, a great big fat person once stood on this stage and told a group of a dozen or so nerds in hideous disco outfits that glee, by its very definition, is about opening yourself up to joy. Now it's no secret that for a long time I thought that was a load of hooey. As far as I could see the glee club was nothing but a place where a bunch of cowardly losers go to sing their troubles away and delude themselves into thinking that they live in a world that cares one iota about their hopes and dreams, totally divorced from the harsh reality that in the real world there's not much more to hope for than disappointment, heartbreak, and failure. And you know what. I was exactly right. Thats exactly what glee club is. But I was wrong about the cowardly part. What I finally realized, now that I'm well into my late thirties, it takes a lot of bravery to look around you and see the world not as it is but as it should be. A world where the quarterback becomes best friends with the gay kid, and the girl with the big nose ends up on Broadway. Finding the courage to open up your heart and sing about it. That's what glee club is. And for the longest time I thought that was silly, and now I think it's just about the bravest thing that anyone could do.

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Glee Club is officially over. Thank you guys. It’s been an honor.

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