By Lexi Vollero
May 07, 2019 at 10:53 PM EDT

Though Glee stars Jenna Ushkowitz and Kevin McHale‘s on-screen characters Tina Cohen-Chang and Artie Abrams have a long, rocky history as lovers, the actors are nothing but best friend goals in real life as proven by their new podcast Showmance.

In an extra-special episode, the Showmance showrunners invited their Glee costars and “showmance buddies” Amber Riley and Chris Colfer for an epic mini-reunion to share memories about their days in New Directions before the Fox musical dramedy took off. The cackling castmates spilled a surprising amount of saucy secrets on the wild nights they shared.

The foursome bonded as “the first ones to go through the wringer of Glee,” according to McHale, and would “cope” with the day-to-day stress of shooting the first season by getting into various shenanigans off-set. And even developed the group nickname “JACK” — an acronym of their first names — although only Colfer seemed to remember it.

“Those of us who were obviously over-age would drink themselves into the oblivion,” McHale said, before Colfer chimed in, “Oh, I drank too.” The hosts took the blame for inspiring bad habits in their “innocent” counterparts. McHale even remembered the shock he felt seeing Riley lean out a window to smoke her first (and last) cigarette as an act of rebellion, incredulously asking, “Amber too?!”

GLEE: The glee club performs in the "Goodbye" season finale episode of GLEE airing Tuesday, May 22 (9:00 - 10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. Pictured L-R:, Amber Riley, Chris Colfer, Jenna Ushkowitz and Kevin McHale. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
Credit: FOX via Getty Images

Ushkowitz also revealed that when she and Colfer shared an apartment together during their early days on the show, he had already written the pilot for a Kurt Hummel spin-off series — which never saw the light of day — in his free time.

Once the show saw colossal success and the team hit the road for the Glee Live! Tour, their antics and their friendships escalated to new heights. Colfer admitted that while he was still under 21, he mastered bolting past security to the back of bars, and that McHale was the one to get kicked out of an elevator to a hotel bar despite being two years older. Colfer vividly remembered waving goodbye to McHale as the double-doors slid shut.

Riley also owned up to getting way too drunk at a London bar, punching a girl straight in the face for grabbing the back of her hair so hard she almost fell down a flight of stairs. Once she realized what she had done, she tipped off her security team, who then had to find the bloody-nosed girl and pay her off to keep quiet. Meanwhile, McHale remembered “feelin’ himself” in the club’s VIP section and kicking out anyone he saw fit simply because he could.

Wild times aside, the close-knit castmates pivoted to a more serious note to say as young performers experiencing everything for the first time together, their closeness and natural chemistry kept them sane and made Glee’s success possible. “We would not have been able to do this show without all of us being friends…and laughing a lot and crying a lot,” Ushkowitz said.

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