Struck by Lightning - Chris Colfer
Struck by Lightning - Carson Phillips (Chris Colfer) ©2013 Tribeca Film, photo by Suzanne Houchin

Best known for his role of Kurt Hummel on the popular TV series Glee, Chris Colfer, at 22 years old, has also emerged as a successful writer. His young adult novel The Land of Stories upon its week of release topped the New York Times best seller list. And he wrote and stars in his new coming-of-age comedy, Struck by Lightning, premiering on January 11th.

When high school senior Carson Phillips (Chris Colfer) is killed by a bolt of lightning, he recounts the last few weeks of his life via witty and insightful flashbacks.

Chris spoke of his movie, which received a standing ovation when it premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, at the press day for the picture.

Do you remember when the idea for this came to you?

Carson Phillips (Chris Colfer) dressed as a pen for the Writing Club ©2013 Tribeca Film

It was in high school and I’d just finished a long afternoon in the writer’s club classroom. I was the last person at the school, it was Friday and everyone was going to the football game, and my parents were away.

I was walking to my car, and I was so tired because I’d just been typing in all the submissions we had gotten for our literary magazine, and felt so over-achieving but under-appreciated. And I thought, ‘Wow, no one works as hard as me at this school, yet no one cares.’

I looked at the sky and I was like, ‘If I was struck by lightning right now, it would probably take three days for anyone to find my body.’

That’s when this whole story came to me of this under-appreciated high school student who was killed and all this potential was robbed from him, and then his sarcastic narrations from beyond the grave.

Is Carson based on you?

Claire Mathews (Sarah Hyland) and Carson Phillips (Chris Colfer) ©2013 Tribeca Film

Carson is who I wanted to be in high school. I wish I had the bravery to vent what I wanted to and to say it people I wanted to say it to. But I didn’t, I was a coward in high school.

I internalized everything and I let myself be a victim. But he’s not. Besides that, everything about Carson’s world is fictitious.

Was it important to you that the character of Carson isn’t determined as straight or gay?

Carson Phillips (Chris Colfer) and Malerie Baggs (Rebel Wilson) ©2013 Tribeca Film

Absolutely, it was done on purpose. I didn’t want his orientation to affect the people that his story reached. If a gay kid or a straight kid watched the story, I wanted both of them to be able to take away a lesson from his journey.

I’ve learned from Glee that sometimes if you aim a character and their situation towards a gay audience, straight kids stop listening, and if you do vice versa, gay kids stop listening.

I think in this movie he’s so driven on who he wants to be in his life that you don’t worry about who he wants to sleep with.

Your character arc on Glee has probably had the most dramatic shift. Can you talk a little bit about Kurt’s journey with Blaine (Darren Criss)?

Poster, Carson Phillips (Chris Colfer) ©2013 Tribeca Film

I think it’s amazing what they represent, and I’m so happy that kids have that relationship to look to.

I get the fans really mad when I say this, but I’m really happy they’re taking a break because it gives us something else to do besides say I love you and look at each other dreamingly, which I’m sure there will be more of down the road.

I think it’s good for those characters right now to take a break and establish themselves as characters rather than just half of a character.

Being a role model for young kids, Chris was asked if his coming out so early had a downside to it? Click here for his reply

[jwplayer config=”Audio” mediaid=”32751″]

Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter. More by Judy Sloane