And who is Mean Marlene? What's it about?

It's this kid who's a bright light and has a lot of energy but doesn't really know how to apply it socially. She's kind of mean to all the kids and she's just not sure how to befriend them. So (the book) shows kids that if you trust and try to get to know people with more positive actions, it will make for better friendships.

How did you hook up with Christopher Guest?

I was cast in a Kellogg's Frosted Flakes commercial that he directed and we met through that. And then about six months later, I ran into him at a restaurant and he asked me to be in "Best in Show."

Was a lot of that improv or was it all written out or a combination of the two?

It was all improv. There was no dialogue, the script is just a scenario, and we improvised everything.

And generally, how many takes did you do on any given scene? Or was there an emphasis on just keeping it really fresh?

He'd shoot a master, where we'll go on and on and on, and then he'll come back and say, "Do it all again, except you don't have to do that part and make sure you do this part." And then he'd just move the camera around. It's really fast. It's faster than anything I've ever shot before.

Is there a classic theater role or a character in literature that you've always wanted to play?

Not really, but I will say that when I was growing up, I loved "Annie" and I loved Miss Hannigan and I did get to play her on Broadway over the summer. That was great.

What do you do to keep your mind sharp in your free time?

I read a lot, but lately I've been listening to audio books, which is a different thing than reading, maybe a little more passive, but I love being told stories. What it's doing is it's entertaining me and inspiring me and satisfying my curiosities.

"Glee" is basically a weekly civics lesson in tolerance and acceptance and being true to one's self. And yet, you've been involved in social causes like the Trevor Project that continue to advance those messages. Are there pressures in being a public personality to be involved in these causes, or is that just a natural extension of who you are as a person?

I get asked to do a lot of things. So I have to decide what I'm going to be involved in. But yeah, it's kind of a natural extension of who I am.

How is "Glee" going to be able to fill the void left by the death of Cory Monteith?

I don't think you fill a void. We're going to honor his memory in our third episode of the season, one of the most beautiful things I've ever read written by Ryan and Brad (Falchuk) and Ian, the three writers who wrote the first season who are the beating heart of this show.

Speaking of beating hearts, Cory was, in life and his character, the most empathetic, heart-centered person I've ever met. And he's going to be missed big time.

We seem to be in the golden age of television, and landing a recurring role in an acclaimed TV show has become the holy grail for a lot of actors. What are your favorite shows?

I watch very selective television. I watch "Mad Men," and I usually watch a season at a time. I watch "Episodes," "House of Cards" and "Orange Is the New Black." And I love "Modern Family," as well. And "Glee."

Are there any actors you admire?

I love Matt LeBlanc in "Episodes." And Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley from "Absolutely Fabulous." I think they're absolutely fabulous. I love Ed O'Neill in "Modern Family." I think he's just brilliant.

You've won a Golden Globe, you've won a SAG award and an Emmy. You've hosted the Emmys. There's this whole cottage industry that's been build up around the so-called awards season. What do you feel about all this emphasis on entertainment as competition?

I stay out of that mindset. I don't go out of my mind over wins or losses. I look at them as big parties where I get to fraternize with people I really admire who do the same thing I do.

What's next for you after season five of "Glee"?

I'm doing another season of "Hollywood Game Night," which is on Thursday nights on NBC. We got picked up for a second season. And I have two films coming out: one's called "Afternoon Delight" (Aug. 30), directed by my friend Jill Soloway, and another one called "A.C.O.D." (Adult Children of Divorce), with Adam Scott, Catherine O'Hara, Richard Jenkins and Amy Poehler. That comes out in the next month or so.

© 2013 Variety Media, LLC, a subsidiary of Penske Business Media; Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC