Strolling through Paramount Pictures' backlot on the way to the commissary, "Glee" costars Chris Colfer and Jane Lynch notice a change to the soundstage where they shoot their hit show. Colfer whips out his phone and takes a picture of the building's exterior, now adorned with a big sign trumpeting the first-year program's 19 Emmy nominations.
"I'll tweet that later," Colfer says. "That's just amazing."
Amazing doesn't begin to describe the last 15 months for the cast of "Glee," and particularly for Lynch and Colfer, both Emmy-nominated themselves. Comedy veteran Lynch has the role of her career in Sue Sylvester, the power-hungry, megaphone-toting cheerleading coach. And the boyish Colfer, who turned 20 in May, has become a breakout fan favorite for playing the sensitive gay teenager Kurt Hummel.
"How 'bout this?" Lynch says to Colfer, looking at the sign. "Your first job in Hollywood and an Emmy nomination. Not bad at all."
Over a slice of pizza, Colfer and Lynch, who may be each other's biggest fans, talk about their characters and the joys of playing dress-up.
You've been promoting "Glee" this summer in Europe. Is there any corner of the planet "Glee" hasn't visited?
Lynch: North Korea.
Colfer: But I'm pretty sure Kim Jong Il is a big fan. I'm sure he's a Sue Sylvester fan.
Lynch: But probably fails to see the irony in that.
Did you catch Chris in any of the "Glee" live shows this summer?
Lynch: I was at Radio City Music Hall and it was insane. The kids there were vibrating.
Colfer: I had the earbuds in, so I couldn't hear anything, but I could literally feel the sound.
Lynch: And the character that got the biggest applause was Kurt. He really speaks to the kids because he's standing up for who he is … or just being who he is. I think anyone who's an outsider identifies with Kurt.
Colfer: There's a vulnerability about Kurt that just connects to a lot of people. He's the only character on the show who's just pure vulnerability and who's just figuring out who he is. And I think most of our audience is right there with him.
Lynch: Everybody else gets to hide behind some socially acceptable mask.
Colfer: He doesn't get that privilege.
But he does get the clothes. What's your favorite Kurt Hummel ensemble?
Colfer: Oh, my God, there's so many. I love the floor-length, see-through Dolce & Gabbana raincoat. That was fun. One time, I had this big, fuzzy, white polar bear Alexander McQueen sweater, and it was so ridiculous that as soon as I walked on the set, the crew started clapping.
So you felt like a rock star even before the stage tour?
Colfer: I felt embarrassed, actually. It was like when the dog walks in from the groomers and has a new haircut. But it was fun. When people are looking at you like "What the hell?" it definitely gets you in character.
And, Jane, you had a chance to play dress-up too, re-creating the Madonna video for "Vogue."
Lynch: I loved it. I learned the dance two months before we shot it. It takes me 12 rehearsal weeks to get what a normal person learns in one. (Laughs) But it was amazing. I don't get to be glamorous much.
Well, there was the "Physical" video too …
Lynch: That was a dream come true. I was a senior in high school when "Grease" came out, and I saw it 15 times. I had a thing for John Travolta. And Olivia Newton-John too. When I read they were making a movie version of "Grease," I was exploding inside.
When Chris gave you an award at Outfest, Jane, you called him your hero.
Lynch: He's a really brave kid. A lot has been foisted on his shoulders, and he walks with such dignity and still maintains who he is. He just takes on that responsibility, and that's a lot for his age. But he has enough levity in his spirit to not let it overwhelm him.
Colfer: If I ever did something stupid, it would hurt the character's credibility. So you have to respect the character by over-respecting yourself. It's hard to be normal. But I couldn't be a normal 20-year-old if I tried. (Laughs)
I noticed Kurt moved from a sophomore back to a freshman this year. Will "Glee" be like "90210" with the kids in high school for 12 years?
Colfer: I'll probably still look like I'm 5 when I'm 30, so I'm not worried.
Lynch: Or we could be like the Brits and end after three seasons and go on holiday. But then I'd be out of work. No, I'm hoping we do it the American way instead. Fifteen seasons! Stretch that baby out!