By Zorianna Kit
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Chris Colfer, best known for portraying the openly gay Kurt Hummel on the hit musical television series "Glee," will make his feature-film acting and writing debut in dark indie comedy "Struck by Lightning" on Friday.
Colfer, 22, plays a high-school student who blackmails the popular kids into contributing to his literary magazine. The film also stars comedienne Rebel Wilson and "Modern Family's" Sarah Hyland.
Colfer sat down with Reuters to talk about the film, and his day job on "Glee," which is now in its fourth season on U.S. network Fox.
Q: You play a high-school student on television. What made you want to stick to the high-school genre for your debut film?
A: "I really wanted to tell a story of a genre of high-school students that often doesn't get told - the under-appreciated over-achieving student, like I was in high school."
Q: Was it hard to get financiers to see you as a credible writer because you are known primarily as an actor?
A: "Anytime an actor associated with something larger than life like 'Glee,' I think there is automatic suspicion and doubt that the script would be good. Once people got the script, it wasn't hard to convince them to read it, but it was difficult getting it made. Had I sold it to a studio, I bet you anything it would have been turned into a movie with me not in it and about a kid losing his virginity or doing drugs. Because that's what happens and that's not what I wanted."
Q: Why did you choose to make this movie as your debut? Were you not getting other offers?
A: "I have been getting offers but for the most part they were Kurt Hummel 2.0-type roles. Which I don't mind because I see typecasting differently. My attitude is as long as I'm employed, I really don't mind. But this character that I wrote just happened not to be a Kurt Hummel-type. I really wanted to play this character and tell his story."
Q: You shot this while on hiatus from "Glee." Was that tough?
A: "With 'Glee,' every time we go on hiatus, we go on a tour. As soon as we were done with that tour, I had 2 1/2 weeks off before shooting season three. I was the only cast member who decided to do a movie during that time, so the odds were definitely against me. We shot the film in 16 days. We shot digitally, which helped a lot because there wasn't quite as much lighting to set up or time needed to reload the camera and get film. So that helped. And the locations were all very close to one another."
Q: This latest season of "Glee" sees a split in storylines as the show follows both a new generation of students at William McKinley High and graduates - like Kurt Hummel - at their new school in New York. What do you think of this change?
A: "I love it. I think we all love it because it means not all of us are working eight days a week, 25 hours a day like we used to. We all get a few days off every week, which is really nice. It's been fun to leave the choir room and experience what else is out there for Kurt. That's been great."
Q: You published a children's fiction novel, "The Land of Stories," last year, which topped the New York Times bestseller list, and you have a sequel due out this year. Is writing important to you?
A: "Unless you fit the standard Hollywood template perfectly, to survive in this business you have to generate your own stuff. But for me, it's more the drive of wanting to tell stories. I've always been a storyteller ever since I was a kid."
A: "One of my biggest blessings ever was being born knowing exactly what I wanted to do. I have a very long bucket list of films and stories - mostly stories - that I want to tell. I love creating characters and I love creating worlds that represent something that's not so on the nose."
Q: Because Kurt Hummel is openly gay, do you feel responsibility to represent the gay community in real life?
A: "Everyone automatically associates me with being the poster boy for gay youth. But I feel like Kurt put me in a position to be the poster boy for anyone who is at all uniquely different. I feel anyone who has that one secretive element that makes them different from the rest is my demographic. And with all the writing I've done and with this movie, I feel like I've added another straw to my cap in representing all the ambitious kids out there, which is a dream for me."
(Reporting by Zorianna Kit; Editing by Eric Kelsey, Piya Sinha-Roy and Peter Cooney)