Chris Colfer Writing Next Movie, Calls 'Glee' Virginity Episode 'Huge'
Admitted 'Workaholic' Talks Firsts: Novel, Film Writing, Getting 'Kind of Attacked' at Gay Bar
Chris Colfer can't stop working. When we caught up with him Sunday afternoon, instead of taking a well-deserved break from his hectic "Glee" schedule, he was writing his next feature film script. His first film, "Struck by Lightning," which he starred in and wrote, was shot this summer during his brief, one-month hiatus from the "Glee" tour and set. He's also got a two-book deal with Little Brown for children's fantasy novels and a pilot development deal with Disney. And in his spare time the 21-year-old also plays Kurt Hummel on "Glee," a central figure and a role for which he's won a Golden Globe and twice been nominated for an Emmy. He claims to be taking a break between writing his first and second novel, even though the entire thing is "written in [his] head," but when pressed he admits, "I mean like a night off. I'm kind of a workaholic."
This Tuesday Colfer's Kurt crosses an important milestone with his TV-boyfriend Blaine (Darren Criss) -- the pair experience a series of firsts, with a teen virginity storyline at the center of the highly-anticipated episode. We talked to Colfer about any apprehension surrounding the plot line, what to expect from new romantic rival Sebastian (Grant Gustin) and how he deals with the various character bleeds from Kurt and Kurt's fans to his real life.
Have you seen Tuesday's episode "The First Time" yet?
I have not, and I'm so anxious to see it.
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What can you tell us about it from filming?
It covers a very sensitive topic, and I think the show is infamous for handling sensitive topics with care. When I found out the concept for "The First Time," I remember Ryan (Murphy, the show's creator and main writer) came up to Darren and I and told us what was going on, Darren and I looked at each other with huge, wide eyes and went "what, that's going to happen?!" We got a little scared when we first found out, but when we got the script of course it was fine. Everything that I thought would scare me and make me cringe was sweet and emotional.
Do you have any apprehension about the reaction some viewers might have to the episode after it airs?
We get negative reactions if I wear an orange scarf with white pants! So I'm sure there will be some negative feedback, there always is no matter what the episode is about. I think it's a huge deal that this is the first time something like this has been shown on television, but I think it's handled so delicately and sweetly that I don't think it will have quite the shock factor that people are thinking. (Pauses) I mean, I could be wrong. I haven't seen it yet!
There's a new character, Sebastian, who has set his sights on Blaine this episode, but is Sebastian really a threat, should we be worried?
Oh, you should be afraid. Be very afraid. I have to say, Kurt hates Sebastian but with Sebastian coming on to the show I was so ecstatic. I was so thrilled there was some kind of drama with these characters because they've been in such a puppy dog love state for so long. I was excited there's some gritty material to do.
Is that drama going to hold out?
I think so. You'll see, but I don't think that's the last we'll see of Sebastian.
We know this episode that Kurt and Blaine visit their first gay bar, what's the experience like for Kurt?
Kurt's kind of a homebody, he didn't really want to go, but he was kind of persuaded by an outside source to go out and have a night of fun. He didn't want to hold Blaine back, and of course he didn't want Blaine to go by himself, so he tagged along. And he, of course, was the designated driver.
Does it parallel your own first experience at a gay bar at all?
The first time I ever went to a gay bar was definitely after "Glee" had aired -- I was there legally, of course (Laughs) --- and I was there for about two minutes and had to leave because I was getting kind of attacked.
Fans are extremely invested in the progression of the Kurt and Blaine relationship. Do you find that bleeds over into people's investment in your own personal life and how do you deal with that?
That's actually one of the hardest parts about this whole thing. People always just assume that I'm Kurt and the character I portray. So when people try to get really invested in me they're not really invested in me, they're trying to find another method of being invested in Kurt. Even if I look at my Twitter mentions it's a lot of people asking me things Kurt would know, not me.
In an appearance on Conan recently you talked about fans tweeting you things you didn't know how to respond to. Do you have a strategy for dealing with social media and is it hard to find and have actual conversations with your fans?
Twitter is such a very delicate device. You really have to watch everything that you say, and everything you say or everything you respond to can be taken out of context in any way or form. Every time I post a Tweet I have to read it four or five times with different points of view so it isn't offensive or there isn't anything suggestive or any kind of innuendo that I didn't intend for. [To talk to fans] I really just look for the kids, I'm assuming they're kids, who just want to know a question. They aren't trying to make a joke out of anything or aren't out for anything, they just really want to know what's my favorite food or favorite movie. The more random the question the better for me. Recently I haven't been on it, though. With the good comes the bad, and sometimes you get tired of reading all the insults people send you.
You were on at Halloween a lot showing off your homemade costumes. How long did those take?
The Sea Monkey took a good 8 hours on a Saturday, and the mask that I made for actual Halloween took about an hour.
In the second episode of the season a lot of what was going on with Kurt seemed to reflect on what you've gone through as a professional, like the fact that Kurt knows how to use sai swords or the idea that you write stories you want instead of waiting to be cast in a role. Do you think Kurt will follow in your footsteps this season?
I don't know! As soon as I read that, when Burt says "You're going to have to write your own stuff," I thought, "Is that the writers paying tribute to me? I'm confused!" (Laughs) But we'll see, I'd love for him to do that. Hopefully not too similar to what I'm doing in my real life, that would be too on the nose.
Also in that episode we got to see a lot of the conflict in Blaine, as a gay character, being able to pass for straight to get a role that Kurt wasn't able to get. Is that a challenge between them that will continue this season? That situation was very unique to that couple on the show.
It was definitely a really fun situation, and not something every couple has to go through. No one else has to fight over a role in the school play. I think that's so much water under the bridge right now, but I think Kurt will still try and find a way to get into NYADA. I'm anxious to see what he comes up with.
What should he do?
Well he's definitely running for student council, and I think he's having a hard time running for President because he's learning that it's hard to run a very honest campaign in politics. He's struggling with that, so we'll see where that takes him.
He seems a little screwed right now with everyone else throwing their hat in the race. With Rachel in particular, do you think the relationship can be repaired at this point?
I think so, I hope so. I mean, I know. So I can't say anything. (Laughs) But I agree, he is kind of getting screwed. I'm sure as much as he wants to strap on that leather skirt that Brittany wore in her number, it probably wouldn't go as well for him. I think Kurt really is the best candidate, of all the candidates he'd really do the best job as president, but him trying to get the world to believe that, especially in a high school environment, is going to be a challenge.
I know you've been pushing for a secret controversial plot line that hasn't appeared on "Glee" yet, any luck so far this season getting it to happen?
We'll see, I don't know. It definitely hasn't happened yet. Maybe in the next coming month. I really hope so, it would be a great plot, if not for me then another character.
How are you spending your free time now that your movie is finished and your first novel is turned in?
I'm doing my next feature, which nothing has been announced about it yet, and the book is done but I'm being anal and going through it. Fine tuning and making sure everything is perfect.
I saw the book ("The Land of Stories") described as "Shrek" meets "Chronicles of Narnia," would you say that's accurate?
Yeah, that's a very good description. I would actually add "Wizard of Oz" in the mix too. It's out August 7th, 2012. I'm so impatient, I can't wait. I'm almost like "why is it taking so long, why is it taking a year?!" But there's a lot that goes into making a book.
You're filming episode eight right now, what is happening in that episode?
What can I tell you, what can I give away. Well, New Directions are getting ready for Sectionals coming up. Chord Overstreet comes back to join the glee club. Actually I have a huge dance number tomorrow for the Sectionals episode. I hope it's not too hard, because if it's hard we have to rehearse longer.
Do you rehearse the same day as you perform normally?
Sometimes. Usually a day or two before we'll rehearse for five or six hours, but sometimes it's gotten really close that we learn the day before or the morning of. It definitely goes into the short term memory part of your brain.
The holiday episode is also coming up and they just released a duet between you and Darren Criss, "Let It Snow." Will that be filmed for the episode?
I'm assuming so. I think "Baby It's Cold Outside" did so well last year they're definitely going to do some kind of bit with it.
I really like the approach on it. Did you have fun in the studio on that?
You know, I haven't even heard it yet, but it was one of the most difficult songs I've ever had to record. There's so much scatting and riffs and runs and that's not really what I do. I'm more of a Broadway, vibrato-for-days type of a singer. It was really a challenge.
When you do songs like that do you record with the duet partner or alone?
Oh no, every time we do everything we're always by ourselves.
Do you like working by yourself?
Absolutely! I love being by myself that way the only person who can judge me is the person working the controls in the studio.
A lot of your costars have been in music videos in the last couple months, are there any you'd want to guest star in?
Not really, it's so cool to see them in them but that's not really something I've thought of as an option. I mean, if Gaga calls me, I'm there.