He had a lot more time to work on his latest book, “The Land of Stories: Beyond the Kingdoms” as the final season of “Glee” wrapped up in March.
Generally, actors working on major projects have some free time as they wait for the crew to prepare for the next scene. “Glee” was different. The actors had to juggle the regular demands of acting with work on choreography and recording music. Toss in constant attention from the media and a tour and free time was a premium.
“ ‘Glee’ was a tough show to do. It will be regarded as having the hardest working cast in television. It was a miracle what we accomplished compared to industry standards,” Colfer says in an interview four months after the series finale. He was hesitant to talk to the press right after the show went off the air.
The Clovis East graduate was on the network series about a spunky high school glee club for seven years and became one of the the biggest break-out members of the cast. He won a Golden Globe in 2011 and was nominated for two Primetime Emmy Awards. Colfer won three People’s Choice Awards as Favorite Comedic TV Actor.
Colfer loved the series, and he knows he wouldn’t be doing interviews to talk about his latest book if it hadn’t been for “Glee.” But, after seven years, he was ready for the show to end. Now, he can concentrate on other projects, such as his continued work as an author.
It helps that the writing has gotten easier for Colfer with each book. In his fourth offering in the series, twins Connor and Alex face new adventures that reveal secrets from their past. Their journey takes them into some of the best known lands from literature — Sherwood Forest, Neverland, etc. — as they meet the likes of Robin Hood and Peter Pan. There’s even a touch of “Oz” magic.
Having his characters meet those from “Peter Pan” and “The Wizard of Oz” are obvious choices for Colfer, who has always been a big fan of the stories. He used those books as inspiration for his first books, and now he’s blended his love and his work together.
When “Glee” was still in production, Colfer would work on his book on the weekend or any of the rare spare moments he had on set. He calls it good fortune that just as he was wrapping his first book, there was an episode of “Glee” in which he wasn’t featured. That gave him a little more time.
Today, with the extra time, Colfer usually writes in the late, late hours. It’s nothing for him to work until sunrise.
“I love to write at night. I’m a huge night owl and never been a morning person. I have never not finished a book until after 6 a.m.,” Colfer says. His tradition is to watch the sunrise when he finishes a book.
Colfer loves to write because his books give him the chance to create something that is 100% his vision. On other projects, such as working on the TV series or making a movie, Colfer knows that the director has final control over the product.
Having his writing reflect so much of him makes Colfer more excited that the series as been so enthusiastically embraced. His first book debuted at No. 1 on the New York Times children’s chapter books best seller’s list ahead of “Insurgent” and “The Fault in Our Stars.” He gets letters from teachers and librarians who tell him how much his books are being used in classrooms.
He’s also very happy he had the writing to keep him busy as “Glee” was coming to an end. Making the weekly show was draining.
Colfer’s proud of what he and the “Glee” cast accomplished during the making of the 122 episodes.
“ ‘Glee’ launched me in so may directions,” Colfer says. “I am so thankful for that and aware of what it did for me. Season one and two seemed to help so many people who were dealing with things in their own lives that my character was facing. I think that was the best part of ‘Glee.’”
He continues to hear from people who are certain that the story line about Kurt’s same-sex wedding had a big influence on the recent Supreme Court decision on the matter.
This kind of talk has added to the struggle Colfer has had looking at future projects. He feels very spoiled at what he was able to do during the run of “Glee” and wants to find the same kind of soul and benefits in future projects.
It will take a special project to get Colfer to return to television because the schedule is so difficult. He’s going to take a little break before his next project, a film based on the life of Noel Coward.
Colfer had already made a move to feature films while doing “Glee,” starring in the film version of his book, “Struck By Lightning.” He also wrote the screenplay.
Dermot Mulroney, who played Colfer’s father in “Struck By Lightning,” was impressed by Colfer as soon as he read the script.
“He was about 20 when he wrote it,” Mulroney says. “It was an amazing accomplishment for someone that age and the main reason I wanted to be part of the cast.”
As for any souvenirs he kept from the show, he kept some of the clothes Kurt wore, including the sweater he had on when he sang “Defying Gravity” from “Wicked.”
Just like his new book, Colfer keeps coming back to his love for “The Wizard of Oz.”
‘The Land of Stories: Beyond the Kingdoms’
- Little Brown Books for Young Readers, $18, is available at local bookstores and online