'Glee' Stars Talk Tearful Final Days on Set: 'It's Hilariously Tragically Wonderful It's Over'

Lea Michele, Darren Criss and more reflect on show's legacy, the future

Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty

Glee is entering the final week before its two-hour series finale on March 20, but Darren Criss said the last days of shooting were beautiful – not sad.

“I remember the very last shot, we were all crying and holding on to each other and Chord [Overstreet] just started bursting out laughing because, at that point, those emotions were all next to each other,” Criss, 28, told reporters at PaleyFest in LA on Friday.

Criss was joined at PaleyFest to take part in a panel with castmates Overstreet, Amber Riley, Chris Colfer, Dot-Marie Jones, Heather Morris, Jane Lynch, Mark Salling and Lea Michele.

Missing, but never forgotten, was former Glee star Cory Monteith, who died in 2013 at age 31.

“I really think that [creators] Ryan [Murphy], Brad [Falchuk] and Ian [Brennan] and the rest of our writers had a difficult task in wrapping up everyone’s story lines and also making sure everyone was happy and making sure to honor Cory and do all of that in one episode,” Michele, 28, said. “And they really did a great job to make sure that the fans were happy and that they were respectful of everyone in the story line.”

“As I’m sure a lot of people would tell you, the last setup was very emotional because we never knew when the last take was going to be,” Criss said. “People kept asking me, ‘Will you cry? Will you cry?’ and I’m like, ‘I don’t know. I probably will.'”

The end of the show hasn’t meant the end of everything Glee: The cast said they’ve saved several mementos from the set.

“I stole that plaque that had [Cory’s] picture on it and put it above my piano, and a pair of shoes,” Salling, 32, told PEOPLE.

Overstreet said he took his letterman jacket; Lynch said she kept three tracksuits. “Darren took a couch you guys!” Michele told reporters.

But not her. Michele said shared a “great little moment” at the start of that last day with the four other original Glee-sters: Colfer, Riley, Jenna Ushkowitz and Kevin McHale.

“We took a little shot and said, “Let’s make this last day great,’ ” she said.

Jones, who this season saw her character come out as a transgender man, said she kept something even more personal: Coach Beiste’s ring, now locked in her safe.

The future holds a host of different things for the cast, now that Fox’s six-season musical has wrapped. Lynch said she’s planning a vacation (“maybe a silent retreat in Portugal”) and Michele is very, very excited to get to work on her second album.

But they’ll always have Glee.

“It’s hilariously tragically wonderful it’s over,” Criss said. “But holy crap – did we just really do this?”

Reporting by NICOLE SANDS

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