Happy Birthday Chris Colfer: 4YE’s 24 Charms of Chris

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Photo: TVLine

On this day 24 years ago, Chris Colfer was brought into the world. Now for some people, this event has had no big impact. However, for others – the Kurtsies, the Struckers, the TLOS fans – it has changed their lives. As big fans of Chris here at 4YE, it is only fitting that we honour the man on his special day. Grouped into five categories (Slasher, Fanboy, Titles, Awards and Honours, Oh My!, Fur-Family, and Typically Chris), we celebrate everything we love that makes up Chris. So I present to you the 24 Charms of Chris.

Slasher

Chris defies labels. He doesn’t excel in just one area, and he never does anything by halves. Not content to be a triple threat, he had to add writer, screenwriter, and producer to his laurels, and he’s only 24! Who knows what other “slash” he can add in the coming years.

Actor

Number 1 – Glee – Kurt Hummel

The role that brought one Christopher Paul Colfer to the attention of the majority of his fans. By now, if you don’t know the story of how Chris and the character of Kurt came to be a part of Glee, really where have you been? But to quickly rehash, Chris read for the part of Artie Abrams and though not successful (that ultimately went to Kevin McHale), Glee’s showrunner Ryan Murphy was so impressed with Chris that he scrapped Rajesh, an Indian student, and wrote Kurt especially for Chris, naming him ‘Kurt’ cause Chris looked like he could have played a von Trapp child from The Sound of Music and ‘Hummel’ after Chris’ resemblance to the figurines.

Over the past five years, we have watched both Chris and Kurt grow up before our eyes. It was, and continues to be, his growth and development that brings me back week after week. How he went from this closeted background/filler character in the first few episodes who in the first few seasons dreamed so big but always seemed to just miss out, to the confident, snarky, fabulous diva we all love who has got the guy, got his dream city, got the internship and finally gotten the step up towards his dreams.

I love just watching Chris especially when he’s in the background of a scene. How he can convey so much through a simple glance, a touch, a raised brow or a perfectly timed gesture, is a joy to watch and has me rewatching episodes over and over to ensure I don’t miss a thing.

 

Number 2 – Struck by Lightning – Carson Phillips

Chris’ first lead in a movie, and fittingly, he wrote the script himself. Carson’s snark, determination, and single-minded desire to break free of his small town existence and have the opportunity to fly was the perfect combination for Chris’ first foray into feature films. Carson was different enough from both Kurt and Chris himself to enable Chris to explore something different. However, he is also such a big part of himself, having conceived and written the character, that what comes across in the performance is this truthfulness and connection with the audience so that though his attitude and means of accomplishing his goals made you question how much you actually liked his character, you were distraught reliving his final moments at the end of the film.

 

Number 3 – “Noel” – Noel Coward

Though Chris’ involvement in this project was only recently announced, we’re extremely excited about this film. Not only will it be Chris’ first lead in a live feature project external to those self-generated, but it appears to be the perfect project to showcase Chris’ many talents… his wit, his acting, his comedic timing, as well as his singing. Chris, in many ways, is an old soul so it will be interesting seeing him play in this time period.

Singer

Number 4 – “Blackbird”

Chris has an extraordinary range (3.1 octaves – a A2-Bb5) and Glee has provided him with many opportunities to display this. While there are a number of solos that Kurt has performed over the past five years, I had to highlight “Blackbird” and “I’m Still Here” (see below). Though it could be argued that Darren Criss’ “Teenage Dream” was the song that launched “Klaine,” it is this one that made Klaine happen. Kurt’s tribute to Pavarotti is raw, simple, beautiful, and has not only Blaine but all of us falling in love with Kurt. Kurt (and Colfer) has this amazing ability to lay himself completely bare when he sings. He drops all facades and you just get to see right into his soul. This is part of why I love hearing Chris sing.

 

Number 5 – “I’m Still Here”

As if Kurt hasn’t been through enough – his mother dying when he was a kid, his father’s heart attack and subsequent coma, the bullying, the sexual harassment and death threats from Karofsky, Blaine’s cheating, the NYADA rejection, and his dad’s cancer, just for starters – in “Bash” (5×15) he gets assaulted when he steps in to break up a gay bashing. The episode closes with Kurt performing this song at NYADA’s mid-winter critique and Chris just takes your breath away with this unbelievable performance, which could easily be both Chris and Kurt’s theme song. The passion, the range (especially the use of his lower range), the way he just commands your attention… Chris excels at these big belting Broadway numbers.

 

Dancer

Number 6 – “Single Ladies”

Those hips, that leotard, those moves… yeah I don’t really need to say any more.

Number 7 – “Not The Boy Next Door”

Chris is extremely athletic and incredibly flexible, however, this is often not seen on Glee where he is often relegated to sway in the background or else stands and delivers his song. This certainly wasn’t the case with this song where Chris’ skills as a dancer took centre stage and made us all wonder why he isn’t given more choreography like this.

 

Writer

Number 8 – The Land of Stories series

2012 saw the culmination of a childhood dream and storywriting exercise that began when he was 10 and wanted to know what happened after the “happily ever after” in fairy tales. What started as a simple tale of twins who find themselves transported into the fairy tale world, has resulted in two published sequels (the second A Grimm Warning is released July 8), a further book to be released next year, two New York Times Bestsellers listings (with The Wishing Spell reaching #1 and The Enchantress Returns debuting at #2), as well as packed book signings across the US, France and the UK.

Number 9 – “Struck by Lightning”

It is with Struck by Lightning that Chris’ true slasher abilities are seen… lead actor, screen writer, producer, and author of the novel tie-in (Struck by Lightning: The Carson Phillips Diary). This coming-of-age dramedy highlights Chris’ knack for social commentary served up with his characteristic wit, self-deprecation, and moving, true-to-life characters that made you want to both wrap them up in a hug and knock some sense into them.

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Photo: Atom Books

Fanboy

One of the most endearing characteristics of Chris is how much like us all he is. He is a nerd, a geek, a fanboy who will bombard you with tweets, facts, figures and images of things he’s obsessed with, without any shame or apology. Below is just a selection of what reduces Chris to a 14 year old fangirl.

Number 10 – Fancy Dress

It would appear that Chris loves nothing more than a fancy dress party and boy does he go all out. Whether it’s a Halloween costume or creating something unique for his birthday, Chris jumps at the chance to let his creativity flow, designing and making some of the most memorable and utterly Chris costumes over recent years. Check out the gallery below of his costumes from Halloween, Matt Morrison’s Halloween birthday parties as well as his themed birthdays (22- disco pirates and ninjas, 23 – superheroes, and 24 – favourite literary character).

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Number 11 – Royalty

Chris, like a number of Americans, is obsessed with the British Royal Family and apparently if you pile him with enough tequila, he’ll start explaining how he’s actually in the line of succession… seventh if you believe him. Princess Eugenie better be on the lookout (check out his recollection of the infamous Tequila Night in London from 1:57).

 

And who can forget this Klaine skit from the 2011 Glee Live stop in London?

 

Number 12 – Anglophile

Speaking of the British Royal Family brings us to his love of all things British… JK Rowling, Harry Potter, Downton Abbey, Absolutely Fabulous, Jennifer Saunders, Julie Andrews, the list goes on.

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Number 13 – Llamas and Diet Coke

Two of the first few things we discovered about Chris is his love of llamas and his addiction to diet coke. Now a running gag between Chris and his fans, in addition to having three adopted llamas at Stillpointe Sanctuary (two as 22nd birthday presents from fans and one from Andy Cohen, host of Watch What Happens Live), Chris regularly receives llama-themed gifts, the best/most unique he keeps on his llama shelf

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Photo: Chris Colfer

Similarly, he received the odd bottle or two of the “Share a Diet Coke with Chris” Diet Coke bottles that were part of the Coke campaign doing the rounds last summer in the UK during his book signing.

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Photo: Clare Sidoti

Number 14 – Celebrity encounters

Fans often worry about how they will react if they get the chance to meet or even catch a glimpse of their idol in the flesh. Whatever you do when you meet Chris, it will certainly be hard to top some of the things he has done on meeting his idols.

Lady Gaga (from 1:49)

 

President Barack Obama (from 23:00)

 

Helena Bonham Carter (from 1:10)

 

Titles, Awards and Honours, oh my!

As mentioned above, Chris is a #1 New York Times Bestselling author. However, that is just the beginning of the accolades that have come Chris’ way. Chris regularly appears on nomination lists for awards, either in his own right or as part of the Glee ensemble, such as the Emmys, the Golden Globes, the Screen Actors Guild, and Teen and People’s Choice.

Number 15 – Golden Globe

In 2011 at 20 years of age, Chris won his first Golden Globe award for Best Actor in a Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television for his role in Glee. Despite being overwhelmed at the honour, Chris made one of the most inspiring and heartfelt acceptance speeches that had not only his fans watching at home in tears, but also many cast mates and fellow guests who were genuinely overjoyed at his win.

 

Number 16 – TIME magazine

Later in 2011, Chris was named as one of TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world. His entry bio was written by friend and Glee cast mate, Dianna Agron (Quinn) and highlights his “determination” to succeed in all things no matter who tells him otherwise, his skill as an actor “[t]he honesty that he infuses into his Glee character, Kurt, leaves you reeling,” and the driving force in his life “Chris, 20, lives by extreme truth, speaking out against the epidemic of bullying that he, too, faced in high school”.

Number 17 – People’s Choice and Teen Choice Awards

Chris has made his mark as not only a favourite with the critics and his peers though his numerous award wins and nominations, but also that he’s a hit with the fans having taken out back-to-back Favorite Comedic TV Actor at the People’s Choice Awards (2013 and 2014) as well as Teen Choice Awards for Choice TV: Male Scene Stealer (2010) and Choice TV Actor: Comedy (2012). In typical Chris fashion, he infuses his acceptance speeches with wit, digs at himself and a wink to certainly groups of his online fandom.

 

 

His Fur-Family

If you check out Chris’ Instagram or Twitter you’ll know all about his fur-family, so they really need no introduction.

Number 18 – Brian

On April 11 2012, Chris introduced his “roommate” to his Twitter followers with the following announcement and the first (of many) pictures (and later videos) of Brian the cat.

With his own fan club, Brian receives gifts from fans, including Ellen DeGeneres, every time Chris makes a public appearance, prompting Chris to joke “I swear he has more fans than me”. Below is a selection of photos Chris has shared of Brian in a number of his gifts, including those from Chris.

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Number 19 – Cooper

A month ago Chris added to his fur-family with the adoption of Cooper, a beautiful Golden Retriever puppy.

Now in competition with Brian for Chris’ affection,

he is likewise developing a fan-following on social media with Chris quickly ratcheting up the pics and videos of Cooper discovering his new home.

Typically Chris

The final category contains a number of aspects of his life, personality and character that are synonymous with Chris and how he is viewed by fans.

Number 20 – Charity and Public Awareness Campaigns

Chris has been actively involved in a number of causes which are near and dear to him. Over the years he has participated in a number of different campaigns particularly those associated with LGBTQ rights and bullying. He has a close affiliation with the Trevor Project having been involved in their “It Gets Better” campaign, as well as participating in a number of their fundraising and awareness raising events. He also joined together with Hollywood heavyweights such as George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Martin Sheen, and fellow Glee cast members Matthew Morrison, Jane Lynch and Matt Bomer for the 2012 LA staged reading of Dustin Lance Black’s “8” for the American Foundation for Equal Rights. At the end of 2013, Chris teamed up with Elmo for a special Sesame Street anti-bullying video.

 

 

Number 21 – Klaine

It may not be perfect, but the relationship between Kurt Hummel (Colfer) and Blaine Anderson (Darren Criss) – “Klaine” – on Glee has done a lot in the way of advancing LGBTQ rights, awareness, and equality. The fact that a same-sex couple has millions of passionate fans the world over that have embraced and taken them into their hearts, rooting for them to succeed together is fantastic to see and a reflection on societal change that Glee and the creative arts industry as a whole can affect.

 

Number 22 – Sai Twirling and Ninja Moves

One of the things I love about Chris is he’s constantly surprising. With his angelic face, his quiet, reserved manner, and bookish nerdiness, the fact that he can twirl sai that would make even Raphael envious is so badass and comes out of left-field. Or does it?

“Raphael [of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles] and Elektra used them and Keanu Reeves uses them in ‘The Matrix’ a couple times and Gabrielle used them on ‘Xena: Warrior Princess.’ I was in a short movie called ‘Russel Fish’ and in it there was a character that was a ninja. They had some [sais] on set. It was a very low budget project and I was my own stand-in, so in between scenes when I was standing there while they adjust stuff, I’d just kinda play around with them. I got really good at it, twirling them and using them. So I bought some on eBay. I’m actually very good at it now.” Zap2it, 2010.   

Number 23 – Wit

Whether it’s writing dialogue for a teenager fed up with his small-town existence, providing retired Broadway stars with the chance to recapture their youth in a retirement home production of Peter Pan, answering reporters’ questions he’s heard millions of times, or tweeting what is currently on his mind, his incredibly sharp, eloquent wit and way with words is always on display. And what a delight to see it is.

CARSON: Moving onto creative writing. Does anyone have any short stories or…
MALERIE: Yes, I did write a short story.
CARSON: Fantastic. Let’s hear it.
MALERIE: Um… this is written by Malerie. “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. It was the age of wisdom.”
CARSON: Malerie. You didn’t write that.
MALERIE: Yeah, it’s in my handwriting. – Struck by Lightning

KURT: Drop all the names you want, my old ladies are much cooler than yours. – Glee 5×19, “Old Dog, New Tricks”

SANTANA: Don’t listen to her! Look at her shoes! – Glee 5×19, “Old Dog, New Tricks”

 

Number 24 – His Fans and being a Role Model

Though an immensely private person, Chris is generous with his fans attending red carpet events in New York, LA and Paris for his film Struck by Lightning as well as numerous book signings across the US, Paris and London. At the London signing almost a year ago, people from all over Europe flew in for the event with some fans camping out for more than a day to be first in line. By the time the signing started at 1pm, there were more than 700 people in the queue and Chris stayed for almost 3 and a half hours and met with every single one of them. At each of these events he takes the time to provide each fan with a special one-on-one memory of the encounter. He is genuinely interested in them and what they have to say and you command his full attention when you’re with him. This means the world for so many fans for whom Chris has become a role model for them. How he overcame the bullying and tormenting he endured in high school to emerge a successful, happy individual whose dreams are coming to fruition, be it escaping a small town for the big city, having the career that you always wanted, being able to prove the naysayers wrong, or being a part of a loving, long-term relationship. Chris’ story has touched so many people and inspired them in so many different ways, big and small, and he will no doubt continue to do so over the rest of his career.

These are just a few of the things about Chris that have made an impact on us. For each fan there will be a different story, a different charm of Chris’ that will have inspired them. We here at 4YE wish Chris the happiest of birthdays with many more to come.

Clare Sidoti
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