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SOMETIMES being famous is like attending your own funeral.

Chris Colfer learned as much at the ripe age of 18, when he was cast as the plucky gay countertenor Kurt Hummel on “Glee.” Armed with a golden voice and an uncanny ability to cry on cue (his secret: think of eye injuries), Mr. Colfer became a poster boy for bullying issues and the show’s breakout star.

But back in his hometown, Clovis, Calif., things got weird.

“People that I went to school with almost acted as if I had died,” Mr. Colfer, now 22, said in a recent interview at the Trump SoHo hotel. Classmates who once treated him like toxic waste were now bragging on Facebook that they had been best of friends. “I thought, Wow, this must be what someone feels like at their eulogy.”

That old Tom Sawyer fantasy is the basis of “Struck by Lightning,” a film that Mr. Colfer wrote and stars in. After having its premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, it was released on video on demand last week and opens in theaters Jan. 11.

Mr. Colfer plays Carson Phillips, a high-school outcast who, in the hope of getting into Northwestern University, blackmails classmates into contributing to his literary magazine. The film is told in flashback: in the first scene, Carson is, indeed, struck by lightning and dies.

Mr. Colfer conceived the story when he was 16, well before landing on TV. He first performed it in high school, as a monologue for his speech and debate team.

But the movie isn’t just deferred juvenilia. It’s part of Mr. Colfer’s bid to become a multi-platform showbiz hyphenate. In 2011, he signed a two-book deal with Little, Brown. The first book, “The Land of Stories,” which came out this summer, is a young-adult adventure novel that upends classic fairy tales, in the manner of Gregory Maguire. (He’s at work on a sequel.) He also published a companion book to “Struck by Lightning,” written as Carson’s journal.

Mr. Colfer’s literary ambitions, coupled with his piccolo-voiced demeanor, underscore how unconventional his stardom is. Playing a flamboyantly gay TV character means that Mr. Colfer has faced a nagging interest in his own sexuality, as well as questions about his long-term casting potential.

But on this front, too, he has broken ground. Though Mr. Colfer is reticent about his personal life, he has never denied being gay. In an Entertainment Weekly cover article this summer, “The New Art of Coming Out,” the writer Mark Harris contrasted Mr. Colfer with slightly older gay celebrities like Neil Patrick Harris and Zachary Quinto, whose coming-out stories, while tellingly understated, were still news.

“There are more and more actors like Chris Colfer, whose transformation from an unknown 19-year-old to a TV star in 2009 was accomplished without any ‘coming out’ moment at all,” Mr. Harris wrote. “He was simply out, and therefore didn’t have to manage or strategize any revelation once he became famous.”

“I kind of love it,” Mr. Colfer said, after being read the passage. “I really hope that one day it won’t be a thing, and we’ll get past this ridiculous — this really complex line between reality and fiction that always gets blurred. It’s crazy that people don’t let actors work because they’re gay.”

“He didn’t have to do a press conference,” said Jane Lynch, the openly lesbian actress who plays the arch-villainess Sue Sylvester on “Glee.” “It’s implied. And I think that says something about the culture we’re in.”

STILL, it’s possible to see Mr. Colfer’s diversity of creative outlets as a kind of insurance policy. By writing his own material, he can circumvent casting directors and define his screen persona for himself.

In some cases, that means leaving things vague. His “Struck by Lightning” character is conspicuously asexual. “I wanted everyone to universally be able to be inspired by this character, so I didn’t address it,” he explained. (In the book version, the subject is acknowledged, if inconclusively: Carson confesses to having a crush on Rachel Maddow.)

To make the film, Mr. Colfer assembled a team of seasoned collaborators, including the director Brian Dannelly (“Saved!”) and Christina Hendricks (“Mad Men”), who plays his father’s fiancée. In a casting coup, he got Allison Janney (“The West Wing”) to play his depressed single mother, having envisioned the part for her when he was in high school.

“I was very flattered by it,” Ms. Janney said. “I’ve always wanted to be somebody’s muse.”

While not strictly autobiographical, the story stems from Mr. Colfer’s fraught upbringing. When he was 7, his younger sister was found to have severe epilepsy. “She’d have these horrid, horrid epileptic fits in the middle of the night,” he recalled. Mr. Colfer, who craved attention, was now deprived of it. Family friends would inquire about his sister’s condition: “It was always, ‘So when you grow up, are you going to come up with a cure for your sister?’ I would say, ‘Nope, I’m going to be an actor!’ ”

He came to see the unbalanced family dynamic as “an evil curse.” Retreating into his imagination, he began writing fairy tales, which formed the basis of “The Land of Stories.”

“It’s all related to childhood traumas,” he said with a laugh.

Things got worse — as they often do — in middle school. Mr. Colfer transformed from a skinny sixth grader into a pudgy seventh grader whose voice hadn’t dropped. (It still hasn’t, essentially.) Bullies vandalized his locker and defaced his gym clothes. He kept his travails mostly hidden. “I always assumed that my parents were busy with my sister,” he said. “They didn’t need any woes from me. So I never told them. I’ve still never told them the extent of what I experienced.”

But he did confide in his grandmother. She alerted his parents, who pulled him from school and put him in a home-schooling program for a year and a half.

In the meantime, he kept writing. “Words were the only way I could get people to listen to me without them wondering what was wrong with my voice,” he said.

In ninth grade, he transferred to Clovis East High School, which had a strong performing-arts program but also a strict conservative philosophy, fostered by its founding superintendent, Floyd Buchanan, known as Doc. Dr. Buchanan enforced an ironclad dress code: no facial piercings, no pro sports jerseys, and boys’ hair couldn’t reach their collars.

“Chris was right on the edge of those traditional views,” said Mikendra McCoy, who was Mr. Colfer’s coach on the speech and debate team. In an incident that later inspired a subplot on “Glee,” his classmates blocked him from singing “Defying Gravity,” a female duet from “Wicked,” in the talent show. His senior year, he wrote a gender-bending parody of “Sweeney Todd,” called “Shirley Todd.”

“The district wasn’t too excited about that,” Ms. McCoy said.

Nevertheless, Mr. Colfer acted in community theater productions and became president of the school writers’ club. Not that there was much competition. At the homecoming parade — this became a scene in “Struck by Lightning” — he and the club’s sole other member piloted a two-person float atop his father’s pickup truck. “When we came around the corner, the crowd went dead silent,” he recalled. “They felt so sorry for us.”

At the same time, he became a speech and debate champion, with Ms. McCoy as his mentor. (She has a cameo in the film as Carson’s science teacher.) Her most enduring maxim, which could double as Kurt Hummel’s, was: “As long as you truly own who you are, no one can ever use you against you.”

The lesson held true when Mr. Colfer was cast in “Glee” in 2009. He originally auditioned for Artie, the paraplegic. But the series’ creator, Ryan Murphy, conceived the role of Kurt — a bully-dodging show queen who gives killer makeovers — especially for him. At first, Mr. Colfer was hesitant about playing a gay character on national TV. “I was very nervous about people in my hometown,” he said, recalling how he had seen local church groups campaigning for Proposition 22, a same-sex marriage ban.

He was also skittish about being typecast. “The first thing that was ever written about me was that I was fantastic in ‘Glee,’ but it would be the last and only thing I ever did,” he said.

At first, a part of him believed that. But as the show caught on, the character deepened. In the second season, Mr. Murphy introduced a love interest, Blaine Anderson, played by Darren Criss. Kurt and Blaine’s tumultuous relationship became one of the show’s most nuanced — and pioneering — story lines. Last season, they lost their virginity to each other, in a barrier-breaking sex scene that Mr. Colfer compared to Maude’s abortion.

“When this show comes to an end, that’ll be one of the biggest things that stands out,” he predicted. He credited Mr. Murphy for not relegating Kurt to sassy-sidekick status or painting him as a victim, like many of his TV predecessors. (Ricky from “My So-Called Life” comes to mind.)

MUCH to the contrary, this season Kurt has graduated from high school and is pursuing his dreams in New York City. Freshly pompadoured, he shares an improbably large Bushwick, Brooklyn, apartment with Rachel (Lea Michele) and interns for a Vogue editor played by Sarah Jessica Parker, in a story line even more fantastical than Ms. Parker’s previous series. (The Thanksgiving episode had them dancing around to “Let’s Have a Kiki” with drag queens.)

The show’s recent New York focus has meant shooting on location in Bryant Park and other high-traffic spots, which has drawn gawking crowds. One of the stranger aspects of Mr. Colfer’s career is his relationship with his young fans, who mob him everywhere he goes. Not long ago, when he tried going to a public movie theater, the resulting hysteria left him with bruises.

None of this is unusual for a tween idol, of course. But Mr. Colfer’s sexuality makes the situation curious. Surely, Kurt has served as a role model for countless gay teenagers. But the vast majority of his admirers, he said, are girls, who shower him with photo albums and even erotic fan fiction (“more than most of my male co-stars”). Tumblr is rife with fan pages dedicated to Kurt and Blaine (a k a Klaine), much like the ones you would find for Bella and Edward of “Twilight.”

Certainly, the phenomenon speaks to the ubiquity of gay characters in popular culture, and suggests that Mr. Colfer’s future as a crossover star is bright. But unlike, say, Robert Pattinson or Zac Efron, he is hardly a typical fantasy boyfriend, since he offers his female fans no logical hope of consummation.

What’s in it for them?

“The new generation doesn’t see people in black and white anymore,” he said. “These girls identify with Kurt, because Kurt had something different about him. Who doesn’t have that?”

He added, with a shrug: “I don’t know too much about the female brain.”

Source: nytimes.com

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Stranger Than Fanfiction
Written by Chris Colfer
Release: February 28, 2017

Cash Carter is the young, world famous lead actor of the hit television Wiz Kids. When four fans jokingly invite him on a cross-country road trip, they are shocked that he actually takes them up on it. Chased by paparazzi and hounded by reporters, this unlikely crew takes off on a journey of a lifetime–but along the way they discover that the star they love has deep secrets he’s been keeping. What they come to learn about the life of the mysterious person they thought they knew will teach them about the power of empathy and the unbreakable bond of true friendship.
Julie's Greenroom
Chris as himself (episode 2)
Release: March 17, 2017 on Netflix

Ms. Julie and her assistant Gus (Giullian Yao Gioiello) will bring the performing arts to a new generation of kids known as the “Greenies,” played by original puppet characters built by the renowned Jim Henson’s Creature Shop.
Trollbella Throws a Party:
A Tale from the Land of Stories

Written by Chris Colfer
Release: July 11, 2017

It's Queen Trollbella's birthday and she's throwing herself an epic celebration. She has everything a troll girl would want: musicians, magical creatures, carnival rides, a gigantic cake, and more. So why isn't she having any fun? Trollbella knows something is missing, until she meets a goblin boy sneaking into her party. It's his birthday too! When Trollbella decides to share her party, she knows she's finally figured out what is missing. A happy kingdom and learning to give back is the best gift she could've ever received.
The Land of Stories: Worlds Collide
Written by Chris Colfer
Release: July 11, 2017

In the highly anticipated conclusion to the Land of Stories series, Conner and Alex must brave the impossible. All of the Land of Stories fairy tale characters--heroes and villains--are no longer confined within their world! With mayhem brewing in the Big Apple, Conner and Alex will have to win their biggest battle yet. Can the twins restore order between the human and fairy tale world?
Since My Life Began
Chris as Noel Coward
Release: tba

A story focused on the early life of flamboyant playwright Noel Coward.
Oct 16 - 'The Land of Stories: The Ultimate Book Hugger's Guide' Release
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