Chris Colfer spent ages 8 through 16 doing community theater productions — “I was every little boy role in every production,” he says — but only saw performances if someone’s relative taped the show. “I cannot stand watching myself,” he says. “We just had a screening of (a ‘Glee’ episode), and every time I was onscreen I had to look away.”
It’s nearly impossible to avoid seeing himself now. “Glee,” Fox’s high school musical dramedy, is a bona fide hit, spawning sold-out tours and top 40 hits. According to co-star Jane Lynch, at the live performances, fans shout the name of Colfer’s character the loudest. Still, despite the attention, Colfer, 20, remains gracious. It’s less about fame than the fact that he’s finally found his place.
That’s a welcome change for the actor. After all, early years were rough as he translated his passion for community theater into high school productions and a fondness for the speech and debate team. But bullies were relentless, ambushing Colfer with insults and homophobic slurs. (Colfer publicly came out a year ago.) “The bullying evolved in the opposite direction: The older they got, the more crude and nasty the bullying,” remembers Colfer, who sought escape in theater.
At the “Glee” auditions, he went out for the role of wheelchair-bound Artie, but instead, creator Ryan Murphy wrote Kurt with Colfer in mind. The character is flashy and flamboyant. He can be ostentatious but remains an emotional core of the show. “I can relate to Kurt’s vulnerability and the fact that he’s still finding himself,” Colfer says. “We’re all searching for something to belong to. I found it with ‘Glee.’?”
And as Colfer finds his peace of mind, those bullies have come out of the woodwork, acting as if they were always great friends, which infuriates the actor.
“I got a message from one of them and wrote a huge nasty reply about how I couldn’t believe they’d contact me after the hell they put me through,” Colfer recalls. “Then when it got to sending, I deleted it. Really, what’s the point? I’m in a great place now.”