Chris Colfer was Struck by Lightning
By: Lynn Barker
Adorable Chris Colfer who plays Kurt Hummel on TV’s “Glee” is a man of many talents. He acts, he sings and he’s a very good writer! He wrote book and script for Struck by Lightning, the semi-autobiographical story of a high schooler who is determined to get out of his small town to be a famous writer. Carson Phillips will stop at nothing, including blackmail, to get his fellow students to participate in a literary magazine that will help him get into his dream college.
We’re with Chris at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills to talk about his high school days, love of writing and amazement at the cool cast he got for his movie!
Chris at our interview
Courtesy of Lynn Barker
Kidzworld: When you were in high school in a small, California town, was life about the destination..getting out and maybe to NYC or Hollywood for you?
- Chris: Oh I definitely wanted to get out but I wanted there to be something to go to. I didn’t just want to go.
Kidzworld: Were you so all about getting out that you didn’t enjoy your high school days?
- Chris: I definitely regret living so much in the future or the future that I thought I’d have. I kind of regret not having more fun with friends and making more friends in high school and being young. I was in such a rush to grow up and so impatient. I think it’s so good to have that drive but don’t take the present for granted.
Kidzworld: Can you describe how you are like your character Carson and how very different?
- Chris: I think Carson is who I wish I was. He’s very sarcastic and says what he wants. I think I’m quick on my feet like him but I always internalize. He never internalizes anything. He just says it. He’s who I wish I was in high school but he’s kind of a jerk. I’m kind of a wimp so he’s more mean than I am.
Kidzworld: You did run a book club and a literary journal in high school. I assume you didn’t blackmail anyone to participate?
- Chris: Oh, I did! (we laugh). That’s true but I felt guilty about it for years and he didn’t feel guilty once. I’d find receipts in people’s cars. People are such big mouths in high school. It’s like “Well, if you don’t want your parents to know, why are you telling the whole school?” But, it worked out.
Kidzworld: Both you and Rebel Wilson have been in films or shows with tons of singing, you “Glee” and she in Pitch Perfect. Was it weird or refreshing that both of you didn’t sing at all in this movie?
- Chris: We shot this film right before she went off to film Pitch Perfect so she was getting ready and practicing and, in the hair and make-up trailer she’d be like “Chris, guess what? I hit high “F” today in my voice lesson!” “That’s great, Rebel. That’s great!” She’d just been cast in that.
Rebel as Malerie and Chris as Carson
Kidzworld: She got the job at the last minute. What quality made her right for the character of Carson’s best friend? Is she like the actual friend of yours that the character is based on?
- Chris: She was cast the night before we started shooting. It was such a miracle that we found her. We had some amazing auditions to choose from but it wasn’t exactly right. We’d seen that friend that was odd but charming and she just got that quickly.
Kidzworld: Tell us something funny about the movie on or off set that kids and teens might want to know.
- Chris: Hummm, well I made the pencil and the notebook costumes between scenes. Costuming had the supplies and I said “No. I’ll make them” because I make my Halloween costume every year. I made the eraser (hat) and what Rebel wears (as the notebook) with a slinky going through it. I made it. Poor Allison Janney is doing a heartbreaking scene where she’s crying and I’m “Anybody got any tape? I need a marker”! It was crazy.
Chris in his home-made pencil costume
Kidzworld: You are crafty! Do you think a majority of kids and teens only write when they have to for school?
- Chris: Oh definitely.
Kidzworld: What can good teachers do to convince them that writing is fun and a great creative release?
- Chris: I think I good teacher would ditch the formats that we’re all expected to write in. It’s crazy. No one learns the same. Why are we all being trained like we’re robots? I hated the AP testing, like the essays at the end where you have to write in a certain format! Writing is an art. It’s expressive and the more originality you can bring to writing, the more kids would be inclined to do it. (Can we say amen here!!)
- When I was in high school there was zero creative writing. That was why I was in Writers’ Club so I could get it out. It’s all structure, format, essay Cornell style. And you must have a thesis, a supportive statement and conclusion but no. No New York Times article is like that! They are just preparing you for being graded and that’s it.
The teens Carson blackmails
Kidzworld: Totally agree, at least at many schools. You got an amazing cast. Who were you most amazed that you got and who were you must just stoked and tickled that you got?
- Chris: Probably Allison Janney (who plays his mom in the movie). She was absolutely incredible and she was the only actress I ever had in my head for that role. I’m still stunned that we got Christina Hendricks and Dermot Mulroney and Sarah Hyland. It’s endless.
Kidzworld: What was the most difficult scene for you to act and why? What was the most joyful and just fun scene?
- Chris: Most difficult probably was the scene where (my character) Carson calls all his victims into the room and tells them all off. For one, I was so intimidated by everyone in the room. They’re all my age and all incredibly talented and I don’t know how I got in the position where I wrote the words that they were all saying. All of it was challenging but it was all fun too. In between scenes with Polly Bergen (who plays his grandma) and picking her brain about all her old Hollywood stories was amazing. She’s probably the funniest, smartest person I’ve met. She’s quick and classy.
Chris as Carson with Allison Janney as his mom
Kidzworld: This is also out as a book in journal form. Someone reviewed Struck by Lightning on our site and liked it. Do you want to write more screenplays or direct as well as act and sing?
- Chris: Everything I’m doing now, I just hope to continue. As long as I have a sturdy acting foundation whether in films or television and I’m able to write my own stuff and keep writing books, that’s where I’ll find my bliss. I’ve covered all the ground I want to cover. I just want to keep doing it… stay on the island.
Kidzworld: Let’s talk “Glee”. Some fans are rooting for reconciliation for Kurt and Blaine. Kurt did call him in the last episode and the “L” word was exchanged so do you think Blaine is still the right guy for Kurt?
- Chris: It’s hard to say. I’m glad that he’s forgiving but I feel like if they do reconcile, they should probably grow a little bit more. They should not be so one-character. I’d like them to go develop different characters that maybe come back together in the end. I think some separation would do them some good. Make them go out and live their lives and maybe come back. I’m glad that’s not my choice. Everybody is not going to be happy with that situation.
Kidzworld: What have the writers not let Kurt do in the series that you really wish they would?
- Chris: Something funny and raunchy! He did a dance that was raunchy but not supposed to be. I’d like to see him be aggressive. I would like to see him get mad and angry. He always takes the high road or is always pleasant or sad. I tell them that, don’t worry.
Be sure to check out Struck by Lightning, in theaters Jan 11th and on demand now as well.