Chris Colfer, who plays the sharp-tongued and high-pitched Kurt on Glee, may not have had to do much research to identify with his character’s story this week.
“When I was in high school, every year we would have a talent show,” explains Colfer. “Every year I would beg the teachers to let me sing “Defying Gravity” from the musical Wicked. And every year they turned me down because I’m a boy and it was ‘a girl’s song.'” Sound familiar? If you watched Wednesday’s show, it probably does. After Chris shared his story with Glee creator Ryan Murphy, the tale was incorporated into the story for the episode.
The similarities between Colfer, who was born in Fresno, Calif., and his character Kurt were born long before this plotline. When Colfer originally auditioned for Glee, it was to play a wheelchair-bound student. “They liked me but they didn’t want me for Artie,” explains Colfer, 19. After another round of auditions for a newly created character, Colfer got the part of Kurt and he found out that the role had been written for him.
While Colfer certainly doesn’t have the fierce and occasionally bitchy attitude of Kurt, he does relate to Kurt’s outsider edge. “I’ve always had a high-pitched voice and I was made fun of in high school. So over time, I’ve built a tough exterior,” explains the actor. Now, Colfer enjoys “speaking to a group of kids who have never heard their voice before on television.”
So how did Chris make it through a high school experience where he wasn’t necessarily encouraged to express himself and couldn’t sing the songs that spoke to him? Just like Kurt’s dad on Glee supports him, Chris’s family was there for him. When his grandmother, a reverend, heard that the school wouldn’t let him choose his own song, she let him sing “Defying Gravity” in her church. “I was fifteen,” he explains. “I think I could have juggled and they would have loved me.”
While Colfer may continue to explore Chris and Kurt’s similar experiences as the show continues, what’s clear is that the actor is enjoying the ride. He explains, “I’ve gone from a theater geek in high school to a theater geek on national television!”