'Rest in peace you wild, hilarious, beautiful angel': Stars pay tribute to 'Glee' actress Naya Rivera after body found in Lake Piru

Rivera's former co-stars have led the way with a number of touching tributes to the actress

FILE PHOTO: Actress Naya Rivera, from the Fox series "Glee," arrives at the 2014 People's Choice Awards in Los Angeles, California January 8, 2014.  REUTERS/Kevork Djansezian/File Photo

Hollywood has paid tribute to Glee actress Naya Rivera, whose body is thought to have been found in California's Lake Piru following a four-day search.

Police said on Monday they were confident the body was Rivera, 33, although at the time of writing, formal identification was yet to take place.

Following the news, Rivera's former Glee co-stars and peers paid tribute to her, sharing touching messages on social media.

Leading the tributes was Chris Colfer, who played the character of Kurt Hummel alongside Rivera in Glee.

“How can you convey all your love and respect for someone in one post? How can you summarise a decade of friendship and laughter with words alone? If you were friends with Naya Rivera, you simply can't,” he wrote.

“Her brilliance and humour were unmatched. Her beauty and talent were otherworldly. She spoke truth to power with poise and fearlessness. She could turn a bad day into a great day with a single remark. She inspired and uplifted people without even trying. Being close to her was both a badge of honour and a suit of armour. Naya was truly one of a kind, and she always will be. Sending all my love to her wonderful family and her beautiful son."

Kevin McHale, who played Artie Abrams in the comedy musical, revealed the pair had been planning a trip to Hawaii together just last week.

“She was so independent and strong, and the idea of her not being here is something I cannot comprehend. She was the single most quick-witted person I’ve ever met, with a steel-trap memory that could recall the most forgettable conversations from a decade ago verbatim … There is nothing she couldn’t do, and I’m furious we won’t get to see more,” he wrote on his Instagram page.

“If you were fortunate enough to have known her, you’ll know that her most natural talent of all was being a mother. The way that she loved her boy, it was truly Naya at her most peaceful. I’m thankful that Naya got that beautiful little boy back on that boat. I’m thankful he will have a strong family around him to protect him and tell him about his incredible mom.”

Rivera's body was found on the seventh anniversary of the death of Cory Monteith, who played the lead role of Finn Hudson on the show. On Monday, Lea Michele, who was in a relationship with Monteith, payed tribute to both her former Glee co-stars, sharing black-and-white images of the two actors on her Instagram Story.

Hollywood actor Darren Criss, who also starred in Glee, wrote: "She was bold. She was outrageous. She was a LOT of fun. Naya made me laugh like no one else on that set. I always said it while we were working together and I've maintained it ever since. Her playful, wicked sense of humour never ceased to bring a smile to my face. She played by her own rules and was in a class of her own. She had a brashness about her that I couldn't help but be enchanted by …That was Naya's gift. And it's a gift that will never go away. Rest in peace you wild, hilarious, beautiful angel."

A search mission got under way since Thursday, July 9, after the Glee star disappeared during a boating trip with her son.

The alarm was raised after Rivera’s son was found alone in a boat three hours after the pair first went onto the lake. The police had immediately ordered an aerial search and deployed a dive team to the site.

During a press conference on Monday, Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub said: "We are confident the body we found is that of Naya Rivera."

The identification was made "based on the location where the body was found, physical characteristics of the body, clothing found on the body and the physical condition of the body," said Mr Ayub.

The body will be sent to a medical examiner, where dental records will be used to confirm the identity and an autopsy will be conducted.

Police said the body was found near the surface of the northeastern portion of the lake, where the depth is 10 to 18 metres, with heavy brush and trees at the bottom.

There was no indication of foul play or suicide, police said.

Mr Ayub said it was possible the unanchored boat drifted away while the pair were swimming and "she mustered enough energy to get her son back on to the boat, but not enough to save herself".

Rivera is survived by her four-year-old son, Josey, who she shared with ex-husband Ryan Dorsey.