'Glee''s Chris Colfer On 'Struck By Lightning': Not Another Teen Orientation Story
Chris Colfer - Struck By Lightning
In 2009 Chris Colfer rocketed to stardom as the out and proud Kurt Hummel on Fox's Glee, a role that nabbed him two Emmy nominations, a Golden Globe, and the adoration of legions of fans worldwide. This week the 22-year-old actor, singer, New York Times bestselling author, and screenwriter makes his feature film debut in Struck By Lightning, in which he stars as an ambitious small town teenager killed by a bolt of lightning, a coming-of-age story which he also scripted.
Like Colfer's Glee alter-ego, Struck By Lightning's Carson Phillips is a restless young man with a yearning for what lies beyond the confines of his high school hallways. But the Glee comparisons fade quickly. For starters, there's no singing — just a little blackmail, used by wannabe journalist Carson to coerce his rivals into joining an extracurricular program that's bound to score him points on his college applications. More importantly: Struck By Lightning, a story Colfer first wrote in high school, never acknowledges its hero's sexual orientation.
"I don’t want to do another orientation story!" Colfer exclaimed to Movieline. "I don’t care what it is... I didn’t want an orientation to take away from someone learning the lesson of [Carson's] story."
Colfer spoke with Movieline about his feature acting and writing debut, the real life upbringing in Clovis, CA that inspired Struck By Lightning, his burgeoning literary career, and more. (The film is available On Demand and hits limited release today.)
Struck By Lightning is a project that’s been with you since high school – what was the original seed of the idea that inspired you to write this as your debate project?
Even back then I knew I wanted to screenwrite eventually one day, so I started writing it as a screenplay back then when I was 16, and it was a way to vent about my frustrations with my peers in high school and whatnot. Then I got involved in speech and debate and decided to do it as one of the events there, so I compressed all the events into a ten-minute version and I played all the characters. I think I did pretty well with it – I’m not sure if that was the year I got the big trophy or the smaller trophy, but I did do well with it. Then when I finally got Glee and got into this world I started to pursue it even more.
You based it on your experience growing up in Clovis, CA. What was it like?
Very flat, very conservative, and very strict.
Socially strict – they had a very strict dress code, like, guys weren’t allowed to have our hair grow past our ears, things like that. With all due respect to it, because it is my home, I think there is a lot of progress that could be made there – and even people there know there’s a lot of progress that can be made there. But even though the movie takes place in a place called Clover, it wasn’t me pointing at Clovis – it was more like me winking at Clovis, I would say. And it’s much bigger than Clovis is. Clovis is like 100,000 people and it keeps getting bigger and bigger; Clover is supposed to be this tiny, small, podunk town.
How many of the characters of Struck By Lightning did you base on actual peers and friends and people you knew?
Only a few, really. A couple of the characters are combinations of the people I knew but the only character really based to a T was Mallory [played by Rebel Wilson], who was based on my best friend Melissa.