Glee officially turned the tables on Kurt’s ex-tormentor Karofsky this week when the bully became the victim — a reversal that had near-fatal consequences when Max Adler‘s closeted alter ego tried (and failed) to commit suicide. In the following Q&A, Adler reflects on the powerful storyline, weighs in on a possible Karofsky-Kurt romance, and answers the question on the minds of his insanely passionate fans: Will he be sticking around Glee long-term?
TVLINE | What was your reaction when you found out you would be involved in such an intense storyline?
I was thrilled to be coming back. I found out in early January that I would be returning for these episodes, but I didn’t know the story at the time; I didn’t know where they were going to take Karofsky, but I’m thrilled they went there. I really think it’s incredibly brave and honest and it’s treating the character with the integrity that he deserves. For me as an actor, I’ve always been fascinated with the human struggle… I think you can’t truly appreciate [all the fun parts of high school] without experiencing the other side, which is the fear, the anxiety, and the struggle that teenagers go through identifying themselves.
TVLINE | That was a wonderful life Kurt envisioned for Karofsky.
That’s basically what gives Karofsky hope that there will be someone that will love him for who he is and he won’t have to keep this mask on and continually hide himself from the world. And that, to me, is the message that I would love for people to take away; you can be yourself. Although society might try to suppress who you are, there are people out there who will love you for who you are. And I think that is the message of hope.
TVLINE | Do you think part of Karofsky dreams of a future with Kurt?
No. I never thought Karofsky lusted after Kurt. I never saw it as sexual; I always saw it as a yearning for a genuine human connection. Karofsky’s whole life has kind of been playing this role and being what everyone wants him to be and tells him to be. But [then] he sees Kurt as a beacon of hope — somebody that can truly be who they are, say what they want to say, feel what they want to feel, and not really care what society has to say about it. And I think that’s such an admirable trait. Karofsky finds that so incredible and has such respect for Kurt. I think that’s what it’s been; I don’t think he imagines this life-long love with Kurt. I think there is a true friendship there. Kurt really is the guy that helps Karofsky see the light and brings him out of his darkness.
TVLINE | There are some fans who prefer Kurt with Karofsky instead of Blaine. Is it your understanding that that isn’t going to happen?
That is my understanding. I think there’s been too much history between the two of them to just completely forget about that and start a full-fledged romance. I think at this point, Karofsky is still dealing with his own struggles and his own identity and is not really stable or healthy enough to jump into a real relationship. I think at this point, Kurt is just an incredible friend, and in a way, a mentor for Karofsky. And I think at this point in their lives, Kurt is just an incredible friend that Karofsky truly needs. And my analogy in reading the script is picturing Karofsky hanging off a cliff by a really thin rope, and Kurt is the only one that is hanging onto him to bring him out from the depths of that.
TVLINE | How big a role will you be playing on the show moving forward?
I won’t be in the next episode after that, but as for the future? There’s [nothing certain]. I would love to portray this character the rest of my life. It’s an incredible experience and I’ve learned so much. It’s just been a complete dream to have this opportunity. But as far as actually knowing what’s happening down the road? I don’t know; we’ll just have to see what happens.
TVLINE | So this week’s episode could potentially be your swan song?
It could end here. But my personal thought is that there might be something else down the line to show where Karofsky goes post-hospital. But that’s all up to the writers. They’ve done everything amazingly well and treated this character with incredible consistency and honesty and integrity. Whatever they do, I think it will be genius.
TVLINE | It’s insane how passionate your fans are. A day doesn’t go by where I don’t receive at least a dozen emails from them asking when you’re returning to Glee.
They’re amazing. That’s what is so gratifying and rewarding about this; this character is so real — the way he is written and the way I get to play him and experience him and talk about him. I think the fans have a connection to him… What I’m so happy about with this episode is that it gives that really amazing, powerful message to victims of bullying and to people who are or have contemplated suicide that there is hope; there are people who accept you for who you are, and you don’t have to change yourself for what society tells you to be. It also shows the bullying aspect, and what your words on Facebook or Twitter can really do. You almost get desensitized because you type a few words and hit send and then you go on with your day. It’s just so powerful how human beings can affect each other. I think that’s the message: if people are in need of help or crying out, we need to be there for one another and stick up for one another. I think [it would have been different] if one guy in the locker room would have defended me. People are afraid to speak their minds or speak up because they want to fit in. I think that’s [another] message: we can all be ourselves and we can all open our minds a little bit and have some perspective, and we can treat each other with the respect that we deserve.