Chris Colfer has already made quite an impact on the world at the tender age of 22, most notably with his Golden Globe Award-winning portrayal of openly gay teen Kurt Hummel on FOX’s Glee. On July 17, Little, Brown will publish his first book, The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell and he will begin a series of personal appearances, including a July 18 signing at New York’s Barnes & Noble Union Square. Then, on July 22, his film Struck by Lightning, which he wrote and stars in, closes OUTFEST, the annual festival of gay and lesbian film in Los Angeles. TheaterMania recently spoke to Colfer about these projects, working with Sarah Jessica Parker, and his theatrical aspirations.
THEATERMANIA: Your book seems very personal. Is that why you wrote it?
CHRIS COLFER: People thought it was a crazy thing for me to do, but I made a promise to my 10-year-old self that I would do it. When I was a kid, fairy tales were my way to cope with everything in the world; I really fell in love with those characters. And I decided to get this book published now so that kids today would have something to get them through anything they’re dealing with.
TM: There is so much in the popular culture about fairy tales now. Do you know why?
CC: On one hand, I cannot tell you how that frustrates me, because now fairy tales seem “relevant” and I always thought they were. But it also really excites me that so many people are so into fairy tales. I think these tales have always been a way to teach kids about morals, in a fun and imaginative way, and these morals are still with us today. And they’re just classic images that everyone grows up with — the prince, Cinderella. But now I see them from an adult point of view.
TM: What was your writing process like?
CC: I write on my computer in a small font so I can see two pages at once. That way I can see which words I’ve already used.
TM: Do you have any other advice for aspiring writers?
CC: The biggest advice I could give anyone is to vomit everything up on the page and then fix it as you go along. Don’t worry if you’re describing something wrong or choosing the wrong word; you can always correct it later.
TM: What was your biggest challenge in writing the book?
CC: Coming from a theatrical background, I always knew how to start and end every chapter; there had to be a cliffhanger. Writing the in-between part was difficult.
TM: Are you looking forward to meeting fans on your book tour?
CC: The only thing I can compare it to is the first season ofGlee when we did this big mall tour. But that was the whole cast and this is just me. I am very excited, but a little nervous. I hate to disappoint anyone for any reason – so when I meet people, I hope they like the shirt I’m wearing or my hair that day.
TM: Do you worry that fans don’t get the difference between Chris and Kurt? CC: I think people now get that there’s a difference between me and Kurt, but it’s taken a while. It used to make so mad when they didn’t, because as an actor, I’ve worked so hard and tried to be the best character in every scene and I know some people felt like I was playing myself. But in the end, Kurt has done such good for the world that I can’t get upset.
TM: We still don’t know much about Kurt’s storyline next season, except at some point you’re going to work with Sarah Jessica Parker. Are you excited about that?
CC: Absolutely. When I was kid, Hocus Pocus was like my favorite movie!
TM: Your film, Struck by Lightning, will close OUTFEST. Is that important to you?
CC: Yes. I am really excited about that — and I am even more excited that it will be officially released in theaters and on demand by the end of the year. When I was in high school, I really felt there were no movies about someone like me, an ambitious kid, and that’s why I wrote this movie. Sure, the kid in the movie gets bullied and teased, but he doesn’t give a crap because he has so many dreams he wants to accomplish. I think that’s a lesson I wanted to share. And it’s a lesson I’m still learning.
TM: You did the staged reading of 8 this spring with George Clooney and Brad Pitt and your Gleecastmates Jane Lynch and Matthew Morrison. Did that fuel your desire to do more stage work?
CC: Absolutely. I got a little fix of it while we were on the Glee tour. I sang live at every performance and I really miss having that connection with the audience. I hope to be on Broadway in the next few years.
TM: Do you have a dream project in mind?
CC: In high school, I produced, directed and starred in this show called Shirley Todd, which was a spoof of Sweeney Todd, and if Stephen Sondheim would let me do it for real, I would be ready in a heartbeat!
TM: Can you tell me more about it?
CC: It was sort of a social commentary on current times, set in punk-rock England. I played a lot with gender roles and I played Mr. Lovett, which was really just an excuse to sing “The Worst Pies in London.” And some of the jokes were so obscene; I had no filter back then. Sometimes, though, I look at the script and I still crack up.
TM: You’re also writing a second Land of Stories book. Are you afraid you’ll accomplish everything you wanted to by the time you’re 25?
CC: I will never run out of things I want to do. Trust me, I have a huge bucket list. But this book was the big one — the childhood dream true.