At only 22, Chris Colfer is already becoming a renaissance man.
Known primarily for his Golden Globe-winning turn as Kurt Hummel on Fox TV's "Glee," the actor surprised and impressed fans when it was announced nearly two years ago that the screenplay he penned, "Struck By Lightning," was being made into a movie. Oh, and that he'd also be starring and executive producing the flick – which also stars Allison Janney, Christina Hendricks and "Modern Family"'s Sarah Hyland – about an unpopular high school senior who blackmails his classmates into participating in a project that'll better his odds of getting into college.
Fast forward to last April, when "Struck By Lightning" made its debut at the Tribeca Film Festival. Colfer tells us he was "wearing long sleeves" because was "covered in welts" from pinching himself over his latest success.
[caption id="attachment_125123" align="alignleft" width="220"] Suzanne Houchin[/caption]
What inspired you to keep pushing and get this movie made?
"Glee" fans, in short. When we were on the road for "Glee," I met a lot of kids that were full of aspirations and had no drive themselves and had no self confidence to actually pursue what they wanted to do. I thought, there's not too many movies made targeted toward that audience that really are uplifting and show you ways it could happen. I wanted to make a movie that was funny and had all the teenage raunchiness that kids want in a movie to be entertained and also had an underlying strong message, too.
I read that Allison Janney was who you pictured to play your mom when you first wrote the script. How surreal was actually getting her?
From the very beginning. It was insane. The only difference between her performance in the movie and what I pictured in my head was her hair was just a little shorter in my head. That's all. Everything else is exactly how I had always imagined it.
What elements of your own high school experience did you bring into this movie?
I was not liked and I was president of Writer's Club in my school, but that was it. I was more of a performing arts geek.
My next project ... we're going the same exact production route, doing it as an independent movie. I have a director. It's a very different movie for me – it takes place in an asylum in the 1930s, which is very similar to high school if you think about it. Crazy people running around with other people telling them what to do. Did you have restraints in your high school? Because I did.
I actually had to do tons and tons of research on it. I had these crazy, suggestive books that I was carrying around with me – like "Asylums for Dummies" and "Schizophrenia for Dummies" and "How to Deal With Mental Health" – all these things that I was reading and highlighting on set and people were giving me these weird looks like "He's finally lost it." I really immersed myself with the material.
So are all your "Glee" castmates begging for parts?
Jokingly, yes, but they're all off doing their own things. They're having albums coming out and little projects here and there. They don't need me. They're all busy too.
(Originally published on April 25, 2012, as part of our coverage of the Tribeca Film Festival)