Emmy-nominated actor’s life is full of ‘Glee,’ but a secret fear drove him to make his first movie
He’s a best-selling author who’s the Emmy-nominated star of a hit TV show — and now “Glee” favorite Chris Colfer has written, produced and starred in a movie.
Where does this kid find the time to be such a multihyphenate?
“It’s a mystery to me — I’ve always been very driven,” Colfer, 22, says about his film, “Struck by Lightning,” which opened Friday.
“You just have to make the time, so you sacrifice,” he adds. “When we were on the first ‘Glee’ concert tour, everyone would go out partying after the show, and I’d go back to the hotel and write.
“Really, I think it’s fear. This industry is full of sad stories of people who were given their one shot and never did anything afterward. Someone said that about me — I think they said I would disappear after ‘Glee’ — without even knowing me. So I’m going to make sure it doesn’t happen.”
In “Struck by Lightning,” which Colfer adapted from his own young-adult novel, he plays Carson Phillips, a small-town high-schooler with big-league ambitions and no one who believes in him. His ticket, he thinks, is to get into the journalism school at Northwestern University, then use that as a springboard to becoming editor of the New Yorker.
So he creates a literary magazine, then blackmails the jocks and cheerleaders into contributing.
Like the character in his book and film, Colfer belonged to the writers’ club at his high school in Clovis, Calif., outside of Fresno. Otherwise, Colfer says there aren’t many autobiographical elements to the film.
“Carson and I are very different people,” Colfer says. “He doesn’t let anything upset him. And when I was in high school, I let everything upset me — even the weather. The only similarity is that we were both ambitious kids.”
Getting the book deal for “Lightning” was easy, Colfer says; getting a movie deal to adapt the book proved more difficult.
“When you’re trying to write a book, you just need to have a good idea and one person you can convince about that,” he notes. “With a movie, there are so many people you have to convince.”
Though he always wrote, Colfer also acted from a young age. The two, he says, were inextricably linked: “I did a lot of pretending and storytelling, so both writing and acting were with me from the beginning,” he says.
He was cast in “Glee” right out of high school to play Kurt Hummel, a gay character created specifically for him after the show’s creators saw him audition. The show’s unexpected and massive success has given Colfer a future he didn’t anticipate.
“It really opened doors I never expected to be opened,” he says. “And I certainly never thought anyone would pick me to be a role model. I guess a lot of people like me because I’m not afraid to be myself.”
Always interested in music, Colfer remains terrified at the idea of live musical performance, despite singing on the “Glee” concert tours.
“My biggest fear, since I was a little kid, was public singing,” he says. “And here I am singing in front of 50,000 people!”
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