Chris Colfer has made an enormous impact as Kurt in Glee. Kurt is a boy whose superior and flamboyant exterior conceals a delicate, wounded soul. Frequently bullied by the football team, he is an immensely entertaining, wonderfully theatrical member of the Glee Club at McKinley High School. Kurt throws himself into everything with all the commitment of the gridiron line-backer he so obviously is not!
The actor, who is from Clovis, California, where he has always been active in community and regional theatre, was so outstanding in his audition for Glee that the creator Ryan Murphy ditched another character to make room for an entirely new creation, Kurt.
Chris, who like his fictional alter ego was once blocked by high-school teachers from performing “Defying Gravity” from the musical Wicked because the number is written for a woman, kicks off by outlining Kurt’s traits. “He’s emotional, vulnerable, very strong, very brave and very fashionable. He also thinks he’s superior to everyone else. When people don’t see things his way, he doesn’t understand why – because he thinks he’s right.”
So are there elements of Chris in Kurt? The actor pauses for a second before replying. ”Maybe,” reflects Chris, who at the end of his high-school senior year wrote, directed and starred in a musical spoof of Sweeney Todd entitled Shirley Todd, in which all the characters swopped genders.
“Kurt is a heightened, exaggerated version of me. I also completely relate to the characters of Rachel and Sue. When I was growing up, I was very intense about theatre. I was a theatre nerd like Rachel, an over-achieving, under-appreciated kid. In fact, I was probably even more annoying than Rachel! The other cast members know what I was like – they’ve seen the pictures!”
This theatrical background meant Chris was perfectly attuned to the world of Glee, and had an inkling that it might become a stratospheric success. “I just had this feeling, as I’d grown up so passionate about the theatre,” says the 20-year-old actor, who at high school was also president of the writers’ club, editor of the school literary magazine and was a speech and debate champion. “When I read the script, I thought, ‘awesome. Finally, a show about how great the theatre is!’”
Chris, who at the age of 14 assistant-directed a theatrical benefit for Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera, California, pinpoints the reason why Glee has resonated with such a wide audience. “There is a character or a situation that everyone can relate to. It works so well because there is something for everyone.”
The performer, who has also starred in a short film called ‘Russel Fish: The Sausage and Eggs Incident’, about a geeky teenager taking a physical fitness test to get into Harvard, continues that music plays a key role in the popularity of the series.
“Music takes the story onto a higher plane,” observes Chris, who believes that it is excellent for gay youngsters to have such a positive role model as Kurt. “Singing is also one of the best tools for an actor to get emotion across.”
Chris rounds off the interview by reflecting on “Glee mania” and the fact that fervent fans of the show now surround the actors on a daily basis. “It’s become a little crazy,” Chris says, with commendable understatement. “Because Kurt is always crying, people constantly want to hold and comfort me. I have to tell them, ‘I’m OK, really!’”
Interview courtesy of Next Entertainment