Kurt Hummel, the character that actor Chris Colfer plays on Glee, escapes from bullying at the TV show’s fictional high school by excelling as a show choir and music theater diva. The show mirrored Colfer’s real-life experience with bullying as a child, which became so brutal during middle school that his parents had to home-school him.
But long before Colfer, 24, became famous, he escaped from trauma into a literary world of make-believe. As a child, he was an avid reader of traditional fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm, as well as children’s fantasies like Peter Pan, The Chronicles of Narnia, Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz and the Harry Potter series. (He says he cried when he finished the series and spent months sleeping with a signed photo from J.K. Rowling under his pillow.)
“I hoped and prayed that a fairy godmother or magic book or wardrobe would take me off to a magic place where I could express my full potential,” Colfer says. “I loved, loved, loved fairy tales. I wanted desperately to fall into the book and meet those characters.”