With all the success Jane Lynch has been having, it’s a little shocking to hear her describe how she once thought of hanging it up.
On a hiking trip with a friend, Lynch confessed, “I think I’m done. I don’t know where I’ll go or what I’ll do. Maybe I’ll just go somewhere and teach theater.”
The friend said, “Don’t you dare. You just keep doing this,” Lynch recalled. “So by the time we got to the bottom of Fryman Canyon, I was back in the game. And I’d gotten a good workout too.”
In an interview with Huffington Post, Lynch remembered, “I must have been 37 or 38 at the time. Don’t get me wrong. I had a pretty nice career going. I was making a good living doing a lot of voiceover work for radio. A guest spot here and there on television. But I just wasn’t able to break through to the next level.”
Several years later, Lynch was cast in Christopher Guest’s ensemble comedy, Best in Show. “That’s the thing that kind of blew the doors open for my career,” the 52-year-old said. “But to get handed the brass ring at 40, at a time in my life when I actually knew who I was and what I wanted to do, that was like some preposterous fancy coming true.”
Lynch has enjoyed a healthy career since, landing a plum role as crazy gym teacher Sue Sylvester on FOX’s Glee (which earned her a Golden Globe award and an Emmy) and a new part in Disney’s Wreck-It-Ralph.
“When I was younger, I actually wanted to be in the spotlight,” Lynch said. “To have people want me, want to have a piece of me. But now that I’ve matured, I’ve realized that—at the end of the day—what’s really important is the work, not what people think of me.”
“Which is why I tell kids who are just getting started in the business and are looking for advice that you gotta find your own path. You have to be prepared to keep doing it, keep trying no matter what. No one’s just going to hand you a career. I waited for years for someone to hand me one and it never happened.”
Looks like it’s happening for Lynch now.
Wreck-It-Ralph is in theaters now, and Glee airs on FOX, Thursdays at 9 p.m.