Chris Colfer Remembers Challenges of Making “Glee”: 'Like Creating a New Broadway Show Every Single Week'

On the 'Drama Queens' podcast, the actor and author described the hit show's demanding schedule

<p>FOX Image Collection via Getty</p> Chris Colfer in

FOX Image Collection via Getty

Chris Colfer in 'Glee'

Glee wasn’t always a gleeful experience for its young stars.

Of course, much has been revealed about the behind-the-scenes drama on the hit Fox show, which aired for six seasons from 2009 to 2015. But according to Chris Colfer, filming the show itself was a difficult process that he likened to “creating a new Broadway show every single week.”

Colfer, who began playing high school glee club member Kurt Hummel on Glee when he was just 18, joined host and One Tree Hill alum Sophia Bush on this week’s episode of the Drama Queens podcast to talk about his latest children’s book, Roswell Johnson Saves the World, and revealed just how taxing it was making the hit musical series.

“The beginning of Glee was a very grueling process,” Colfer recalled. “I think we each had four auditions. We had casting director, callbacks, network, and studio. All in a row. We had to sing and act in those auditions.”

<p>FOX Image Collection via Getty</p> Jenna Ushkowitz, Chris Colfer, Cory Monteith, Amber Riley, Kevin McHale and Lea Michele in 'Glee'

FOX Image Collection via Getty

Jenna Ushkowitz, Chris Colfer, Cory Monteith, Amber Riley, Kevin McHale and Lea Michele in 'Glee'

But the rigorous audition process was just the beginning for the show’s cast. “It wasn’t until we all showed up for the first day of singing rehearsal for the pilot that we realized that you have to dance in show choir, and none of us had ever danced before," he said. "And so that was a complete shock to us and to our bodies, because … it was never part of the audition process, and it was never written into the script.

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"And, when I think of show choir, I think of like Sister Act 2, where they, you know, they kind of step touch, step touch, but it's really focused on the singing part," he added.

Colfer explained that while some members of the cast had previously appeared on Broadway, many had never performed the kind of intricate choreography featured on Glee. “It was like the first time any of us had ever had to dance like that,” he said.

<p>FOX Image Collection via Getty</p> Chris Colfer in 'Glee'

FOX Image Collection via Getty

Chris Colfer in 'Glee'

Colfer said that the demanding schedule rarely let up: after learning song lyrics, choreography and dialogue, filming and recording vocals on weekends, it was on to the next episode.

Despite the challenges, the show did give the Golden Globe winner and two-time Emmy nominee the opportunity to realize a dream he was denied when he was in high school.

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“I wanted to sing ‘Defying Gravity’ so badly in my school talent show when I was in high school,” Colfer explained. “And I was told, ‘No, you're a boy. You can't sing that song.’ I was like, ‘But I — I can sing it. Like, I actually, I physically can sing.’ And they said, ‘No, it's a woman's song. You're not singing it.’ And so, I told that to [Glee’s] producers, and they wrote that storyline into the show, and so I actually got to sing the song.”

<p>Amy Sussman/WireImage</p> Chris Colfer in 2024

Amy Sussman/WireImage

Chris Colfer in 2024

But Colfer said,even those opportunities to rewrite their personal histories came with drawbacks for the cast. “What I didn't realize was when the audience found out that a lot of these experiences that they were watching were autobiographical of us, the separation between actor and character became nonexistent,” he explained. “And that was — that was probably the most challenging part of Glee, was having … millions and millions and millions of people think you were someone that you were not.”

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