NEW YORK — When "Glee" star Chris Colfer was 8, he began writing a novel. He wrote two pages, called it the first chapter and proudly showed it to his grandmother.
"She said, 'OK, could use some development,'" laughed Colfer in a recent interview.
That memory was worked into his script for the movie "Struck by Lightning," which premiered at this year's Tribeca Film Festival.
Colfer wrote and stars in the movie. He plays Carson, an ambitious high-school senior who blackmails his fellow students into helping him get into Northwestern University.
The 21-year-old actor came up with the idea for the story when he was a teen as a way to vent about his teachers and classmates. He then taught himself how to write a screenplay.
"I would go to my local Borders in Fresno (Calif.) and I would study Sofia Coppola's 'Marie Antoinette' published screenplay. I'd sit there — 'cause I couldn't afford it — and I'd read it and I'd read it and I'd teach myself how to screenwrite and how to, you know, frame everything."
Allison Janney plays his mother, and Colfer says he always pictured her in the part.
"I always had her voice in my head for some reason. Always, always," he said.
Janney said she was unaware the part was written for her, but loved it immediately.
"I was blown away by Chris' script," she said. "The writing has always been the most important thing to me, and I had an instant connection to his script. The characters were funny and flawed, especially the part of his mother. Then I met with him and was completely charmed by him. ... How can he be so talented and accomplished and charming and be so impossibly young? I can't wait to see what's next for him. Maybe directing?"
Dermot Mulroney, Christina Hendricks and Sarah Hyland ("Modern Family") also star in the movie.
Colfer has just finished a psychological drama he hopes to shoot independently this summer. He also adapted a pilot for the Disney Channel based on Florence Laughlin's children's book "The Little Leftover Witch."
He also inked a deal to publish two children's books. "The Land of Stories," which will be in bookstores in July, is essentially the completion of that story he began writing when he was 8.
"It came from me being a young, curious kid holding a book in my hand and wishing with all my heart that I could just fall into the book and go on these adventures with all the characters," he said.
Colfer said he told his parents when he was growing up that he was going to write and act, and he has made good on those bold declarations. His portrayal of gay teen Kurt Hummel on the Fox show "Glee" has earned him a Golden Globe Award and two Emmy nominations.
Despite the opportunities he's had since "Glee," Colfer says he cannot ever really get used to fame.
"I don't think anyone can prepare you for it. ... You find different ways of dealing with it and getting used to it, but it's not something you can totally settle your mind into. For me, I always feel like I have this massive responsibility because of the kind of platform that 'Glee' gave me. I can never do anything that disappoints anyone. That's my biggest fear — disappointing those people who look up to me."