"I was a little strange myself in high school," Colfer says. "I was in speech and debate and drama. I was president and the only member of the writers' club. At one point, I was 40 pounds overweight, with freckles, and I lost it because I thought I'd be more popular, but all I did was go from a fat loser to a skinny loser." He sighs. "My closest group of friends were the lunch ladies. I'm still very close with all of them."
We go into Colfer's trailer and have a seat. He sits opposite us, a thin sapling of a boy with an agreeable semifeminine face and an impossibly high voice who when he hears himself on TV can only think, "'Do I really sound like that? What's wrong with me? I sound like a chipmunk! I don't want to be alive anymore.' Every year of adolescence, I'd ask my family doctor, 'Is my voice ever going to change?' 'Are you shaving?' 'Yes.' 'How long have you been shaving?' 'About a year.' 'Oh, you're screwed.'
"But all my disadvantages have become my advantages," he goes on. "After I first auditioned, they called me back to read for a new character they'd created named Kurt. I got the part. And then they told me it had been written specifically for me! It's surreal. It's crazy. My voice is almost my trademark now. It's a miracle. And it really reflects me. It's what I went through. You know how I sing 'Defying Gravity' in that one episode? In high school, they wouldn't let me sing that song because they said it's a 'girl's song,' but when Ryan heard about that, he wrote it into the show. And now when people hear that song, they think of me. A word I used a lot about what's happened is 'therapeutic.' It's very therapeutic. Outside of work, I'm getting the praise and acceptance I've always wanted. And at work, I've got my first set of friends ever. What I am is a true Cinderfella story."
"Have you heard from any of the kids who gave you a hard time in high school?"
"I have," he says. "It's interesting how people forget their actions. But I don't forget. I took down names and Social Security numbers. You know that forget-and-forgive bullshit? No, no, no, no, not for me. You take that grudge and let that grudge fester, and then you use it. You think, 'One day, they'll pay.' They'll write on my Facebook page, 'Oh, remember what great times we had?' And I'll be like, 'No, we didn't have great times. What are you talking about? Have we met? Remember the three-letter name you'd call me every time we met in the hallway?' I don't forget."
We say nothing. We are spellbound. Right in front of us is Glee incarnate, the real deal, the whole experience of it from beginning to some grand finale, lived fully and resolved unbelievably. What's more, Colfer just being Colfer is so entertaining we forget to ask him to entertain us. He's great. It's all great. We're happy.
Then the next day we go back to the set to see a dance number get filmed. Everyone is in an auditorium, with all the kids sitting on bleachers, among them Michele, Agron, Monteith and Colfer. The ones we have spent so much time with and asked so many questions of. Behind the scenes, a lot has been going on. "I hear some of your questions have been pretty out there," one show executive says to us. "Good for you." But that's an adult perspective. From other quarters comes word that we have apparently upset some of the kids enough to make their eyes mist and to make them say things like, "Why would anyone care if I pee in the shower?"
We have our reasons, but we aren't going to justify our actions any more than we have already.
Instead, we're watching Matthew Morrison, 31, prepare for a scene. We had a talk with him yesterday, during which he told us about his own high school years, in Los Alamitos, California (as a senior, he was both prom king and class president); about why he then chose New York as the place to further his acting ambitions ("I just had so much respect for New York actors, Brando, James Dean, Alec Baldwin. . . ."); about his theater roots ("I did Broadway for a long time"); about his stint as a member of the boy band LMNT ("One of the worst years of my life"); about one of his Glee auditions (he played "Over the Rainbow" on something he calls an "ook-a-lay-lay"); and about why he thinks Glee is so successful ("Music is a language we all share"). He does not mention the ex-fiancee who once wrote on her blog, "It's not Matthew's fault that he thought MONOGAMY was a type of tree!" Nor do we try to get him to entertain us.
But he sure is pretty entertaining, revealing himself to be a great dancer with an enviable, camera-pleasing chin, as he power-bops his way through Vanilla Ice's "Ice Ice Baby." Soon the rest of the cast jumps in. After that, a break is called. Filing out, our Glee four toss us a few obligatory hellos. Then they gather on their name-stenciled high chairs and proceed to studiously ignore us.
We stand not too far away. We go back and forth past them to the snack area. They laugh and giggle among themselves. They do not invite us to join them. At one point, Michele walks right by and doesn't even glance in our direction. Then Agron, on the phone, looks straight at us and right through us. We are feeling incredibly awkward and uncomfortable.
In fact, we're feeling exactly like the characters in Glee felt before joining the Glee club and finding each other. Alone, unworthy, unlovable, miserable, excluded. We are feeling totally weirded out and freaked out. We could go over to them, but we don't know how to go over to them. They're a crowd, a clique. We're just us. This isn't high school, sort of, anymore. All theoreticals are gone. It sucks to be standing here. It really sucks. Our skin hurts. We're not kidding. And we feel particularly betrayed by Colfer. What'd we ever do to him? We do understand, though. He's got his first-ever-in-this-lifetime group of friends. He's sticking by them. It's kind of beautiful, really. We just wish the situation was different. Right now, we're beginning to regret our entire line of questioning. This is real life. Right now, all we really want is to be liked.
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