Christopher Paul Colfer (born May 27, 1990) is an American actor, singer, and author. He gained international recognition for his portrayal of Kurt Hummel on the hit television singing series Glee (2009–15). Colfer's portrayal of Kurt has received critical praise for which he has been the recipient of several awards, including Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Miniseries or Television Film at the 2011 Golden Globe Awards and three consecutive People's Choice Awards for Favorite Comedic TV Actor in 2013, 2014 and 2015. In April 2011, Colfer was named one of the 2011 Time 100, Time's list of the 100 most influential people.
Colfer wrote, starred in, produced, and novelized his first film, Struck by Lightning, which debuted at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival. He is also a New York Times number-one bestselling author of The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell, the first novel in his middle-grade reader series.
Early life and education
Colfer was born in Clovis, California, the son of Karyn and Timothy Colfer. He has Irish ancestry, and has stated: "I'm very Irish, my family is all Irish and St. Patrick's day in my house is crazy." As a child he was confined to a hospital bed for three months following lymph-node surgery, which left a scar on his neck, and which he credits as one of the difficult experiences that made him interested in fictional worlds.
At a very early age, Colfer showed a passion for writing. He was "born wanting to be a storyteller," using both writing and acting as ways to entertain people and escape reality. His grandmother was his first editor, advising and encouraging him in elementary school when he first attempted to write a fairytale-inspired novel, which would later become The Land of Stories. In 2012, Colfer dedicated his first published novel to her, and quoted her: "Christopher, I think you should wait until you're done with elementary school before worrying about being a failed writer."
Colfer was bullied so severely in middle school that he needed to be home schooled for half of 7th grade and 8th grade. The next year, Colfer began attending Clovis East High School, where he was involved with the speech and debate program, and won "many speech and debate champion titles", including placing ninth in the State Competition for Dramatic Interpretation. He was also active in the drama club, the FFA, "was president of the Writer's Club, editor of the school's literary magazine, and captain of Destination ImagiNation". As a high school senior, he wrote, starred in, and directed a spoof of Sweeney Todd entitled "Shirley Todd", in which all of the roles were gender-reversed. One of his real in-school experiences was later turned into a sub-plot for his character on Glee, when the high school teachers denied him the chance to sing "Defying Gravity" from the musical Wicked because it is traditionally sung by a woman. His grandmother, a minister, let him sing the song in her church.
The first show in which he was involved with community theater was West Side Story. He also appeared in a production of The Sound of Music as the character Kurt von Trapp, the musical protagonist Maria von Trapp's stepson. Colfer's resemblance to the Kurt von Trapp character later served as inspiration for the name of his Glee character.
At the age of eighteen, Colfer starred as Russel Fish in Russel Fish: The Sausage and Eggs Incident, a short film where an awkward teenager must pass a Presidential Physical Fitness test or fail gym class and lose his admission to Harvard University.
Colfer's first TV role came in 2009 when he was cast as Kurt Hummel on Fox's Glee. Kurt is a fashionable gay countertenor who is routinely bullied at school, not only for being gay, but also for being part of the very unpopular Glee Club. Colfer auditioned for the part of Artie Abrams, who uses a wheelchair, a role which eventually went to Kevin McHale.
The show's creator, Ryan Murphy, was so impressed with Colfer that he created the role of Kurt specifically for him, and in the process, scrapped a planned character called Rajish so they could add Kurt. Murphy explained in the season two finale of the Glee Project that Colfer was the inspiration for the project show because he didn't fit the role he auditioned for but was still "incredible and special" so a role was created for him.
In a 2010 interview with Allison Kugel, Colfer stated that:
Colfer won the 2011 Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor in a Television Series for his performance as Kurt Hummel. In his emotional acceptance speech, he thanked Ryan Murphy for being his "fairy godfather" and dedicated the award to kids who have been bullied and told "they can't […] have what they want because of who they are." He was twice nominated for an Emmy Award in the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series category for his portrayal of Kurt.
In 2013 and 2014, Colfer won consecutive People's Choice Awards for Favorite Comedic TV Actor. Both speeches he gave were praised by the media for being funny while making references to things like fanfiction and fanart to show his appreciation for fan culture.
The Land of Stories
On June 8, 2011, Colfer signed a book deal with Little, Brown and Company to write two novels for children. The series follows twins Alex and Conner as they magically travel through a cherished book of stories and have adventures in a land where they come face-to-face with the fairy tale characters they grew up reading about.
The first book in the series, The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell, was released on July 17, 2012. For two weeks after the book's release it was number one on The New York Times Best Seller list in the Children's Chapter Books category.
The second book in the series, The Land of Stories: The Enchantress Returns, was released on August 6, 2013. It debuted at number two on The New York Times Best Seller list, and by the end of 2013 it had spent eleven weeks in the top fifteen for Children's Middle Grade books.
Following the success of the first two books, Colfer contracted for an additional three books with Little, Brown: two novels and a picture book.
The third book in the series, The Land of Stories: A Grimm Warning, was released on July 8, 2014. Now considered a series, it reached #4 on The New York Times Best Seller list and spent four weeks on the list.
Colfer's fourth novel, The Land of Stories: Beyond the Kingdoms, was released on July 7, 2015. Following its release, The Land of Stories charted at #1 as a series on The New York Times Best Seller list for the first time on July 26.
The picture book, written by Colfer and illustrated by Brandon Dorman, The Curvy Tree was released on October 2015, and is based on a short original fairy tale of the same name, which Colfer first told in The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell.
The fifth book in the series, The Land of Stories: An Author's Odyssey, was released on July 12, 2016. The sixth and final installment, The Land Of Stories: Worlds Collide was released on July 11, 2017.
In June 2017, it was announced that Colfer will make his directorial debut with a film adaptation of The Land Of Stories: The Wishing Spell. He will also write the script and serve as one of the executive producers on the project.
Colfer wrote, starred in, executive-produced, and novelized the coming-of-age comedy film Struck by Lightning. The plot revolves around Colfer's character, who is struck and killed by a bolt of lightning, and chronicles his exploits as he blackmails his fellow senior classmates into contributing to a literary magazine he is publishing. It was shot during the Glee hiatus in the summer of 2011 and had its world premiere in 2012 at the Tribeca Film Festival.
In March 2012, Colfer was featured in a performance of Dustin Lance Black's play, 8 — a staged reenactment of the federal trial that overturned California's Prop 8 ban on same-sex marriage — as Ryan Kendall. The production was held at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre and broadcast on YouTube to raise money for the American Foundation for Equal Rights.
Colfer landed a deal with Disney Channel to adapt the book The Little Leftover Witch for a television pilot. He also wrote another movie, set in an asylum, which he planned to appear in as a supporting actor. However, both of these projects have been delayed with no expected dates for production.
On January 28, 2014, it was announced that Colfer will star in a new 3D CG animated family film, Robodog, as the voice of the title character. The film, which will costar Ron Perlman, is described as "a classic, heart-warming adventure story about an unlikely duo who couldn't be more different." The film's director, Henry F. Anderson III, said Colfer is "perfect" for the project because he "has an appealing, youthful voice which fits right in with our lead character, KC, who is above all a charismatic entertainer." Vocal recording for the film began on February 1, 2014. The film is now in post-production.
After a few months of planning, it was revealed on March 17, 2014, that Chris had been asked by Glee's producers to write an upcoming episode. About his acceptance of the offer, Colfer said: "I've been asked in interviews if I ever wanted to write [an episode of Glee], and I said, 'Absolutely not because it was not my world.' I didn't want to tamper with someone else's image. Then they were like, 'Here, come tamper.'" The title of the episode, which aired on May 6, 2014, is "Old Dog New Tricks".
In 2014, Colfer guest starred on an episode of Hot in Cleveland playing Tony, Victoria's son. On March 31, 2015, Jane Leeves posted an image on her official Twitter account, confirming that Colfer would be returning to an episode for the show's final season entitled "All About Elka".
On May 14, 2015, it became public knowledge that the biopic Colfer has been mentioning for almost a year is going to be about Noël Coward with the working title Noel and Chris is going to play the main role. Colfer has since been in London, preparing for the role. The film will be directed by Joe Stephenson. While filming was expected to begin sometime during the summer of 2015, it has been delayed.
In 2016, he played Christopher in Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie. He had been offered the role by Jennifer Saunders after he invited her to the Glee: Live Tour back in 2011.
He also appeared as a guest judge in Chopped Junior.
In 2017, Colfer announced he is developing a new TV show called Indigo, a sci-fi drama about indigo children who are misdiagnosed as having mental or physical illnesses — when they really possess supernatural abilities. Star disabled kid "Kamare M Page" is going to be the lead disabled kid in the TV show Indigo. "In addition to starring in the project — which will be shopped around to broadcast networks, cable channels and streaming services — Colfer is also expected to write and direct the pilot, which he'll executive-produce alongside Keith Quinn and Rob Weisbach.".
In 2012, Colfer released a companion book to his film Struck by Lightning, called Struck By Lightning: The Carson Phillips Journal.
In early 2017, Colfer released his second book for young adult readers called Stranger Than Fanfiction. This book follows the story of Cash Carter, a world-famous television star who decides to take a cross-country road trip with four of his biggest fans, as they are getting ready to enter college.
Colfer's younger sister, Hannah, has severe epilepsy, and often experiences over fifty seizures in an hour. Colfer has commented that when he was younger he used acting as a method of escaping the stress involved with his sister's epilepsy.
Colfer was routinely bullied at school, and it eventually got so bad that his parents pulled him out of middle school and home-schooled him for a year and a half.
Colfer appeared on the British chat show Friday Night with Jonathan Ross on June 18, 2010, along with his fellow Glee co-stars Amber Riley and Matthew Morrison. He demonstrated his skill with a pair of sai, revealing that he bought a pair on eBay and regularly practices in his trailer. He also mentioned that he would like it if his sai could be worked into an episode of Glee; they first appeared in the season 3 episode "I Am Unicorn", during Colfer's character Kurt Hummel's performance of "I'm the Greatest Star", from the musical Funny Girl.
Colfer is an active supporter of the It Gets Better Campaign and The Trevor Project, creating an It Gets Better video after the Glee episode Never Been Kissed aired, and dedicated his Golden Globe Award to bullied kids in the LGBT community in 2011.
In the year of 2013, Colfer filmed a PSA with Elmo about anti-bullying for Sesame Street in Communities and participated in the Course of the Force run benefiting the Make-A-Wish Foundation. In 2014, he participated in a PSA about Let Girls Learn, put out by the U.S. Agency for International Development.
On Hollywood Game Night, hosted by his Glee co-star Jane Lynch, Colfer won $6,000 and donated it to the Make-a-Wish Foundation of America.
Colfer also was a co-chair for the Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Award Party in 2013 and 2014. He also is a coalition member of Uprising of Love, an organization which supports the safety and dignity of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex (LGBTI) Russians. He served on the host committee for Uprising of Love: A Benefit Concert for Global Equality.
He is outspoken about the importance of adopting animals from shelters. He adopted his senior cat Brian from the West Valley Animal Shelter and his dog Cooper from the Southern California Golden Retriever Rescue. He also donated a drawing to be auctioned off to benefit the Labrador Rescuers of San Diego.
On October 25, 2014, Colfer made an announcement on his Twitter account encouraging fans to donate to the HP Alliance. He also has donated signed copies of his books to the fundraiser. In the past, he also has tweeted support for the Adopt the Arts Foundation's effort to Save the Arts, as well as talked about the importance of the arts in education.
On November 20, 2014, Colfer made an announcement on Twitter, encouraging fans to support Heifer International and help families out of poverty.
Colfer also has contributed drawings to Doodle 4 NF in the past, including in 2013 and 2015. Doodle 4 NF is an annual fundraiser for the Neurofibromatosis Network.
On June 25, 2015, Colfer announced that T-shirts bearing a popular quote from his The Land of Stories series would be sold to benefit First Book, a nonprofit social enterprise that provides brand-new books to kids in need. Through June 30, 965 T-shirts were sold on Represent.com, with 100 percent of the profits going to First Book.
ABC News reported that Colfer was among the celebrities who donated to Hillary Clinton's campaign in 2015. Colfer donated $5,400, maxing out for both the primary and general election cycle.
One of Colfer's major influences is Whoopi Goldberg. He said:
Colfer also stated that Kristin Chenoweth was another major influence on him, claiming in one interview with Jay Leno that he was nervous sitting next to her, and that Kristin was his very first celebrity crush.
Colfer stated that Glee's producer Ryan Murphy also became a huge influence on him, with him stating he would often get himself into trouble with his mother when he was caught watching Nip/Tuck, and that Murphy was the first person in Hollywood to ever let him work, despite him being horrible at auditions, describing Murphy as his "fairy godfather" in his 2011 Golden Globes speech.
He also stated that Elton John influenced him to respond to hateful, anti-gay people with love, kindness and respect rather than anger and resentment.
Colfer said two of his favorite artists are Betty Who and Melissa Etheridge on his Twitter.