Darren Criss proved to be one of Glee’s breakthrough stars. Fans love him for his genuine portrayal of Blaine Anderson, and his show-stealing voice. Although the series is coming to an end soon, it’s apparent that there are great things in store for the multi-talented actor and singer. Here’s what you need to know about the 27 year-old’s varied career and his plans for the future.
1. He’s Straight But Plays a Gay Teenager on ‘Glee’
On the hit musical drama, Criss plays Blaine, a gay high school student who recently proposed to his boyfriend Kurt, played by Chris Colfer.
In an interview with the Daily Mail, Criss dished on what it was like to play a gay character:
It’s just like any other part. As an actor it’s your job to empathize with your character regardless of whether they have a different sexual orientation, spiritual beliefs, or anything.
He told Cosmopolitan that he is totally comfortable with his role and doesn’t discredit people who don’t take his approach:
No. I know who I am. I feel bad for guys who have to flex their muscles. But hey, if that’s the way to make yourself feel comfortable as a man—as long as it isn’t antagonizing anybody—go for it. I’m okay with your getting a Miata to feel like a dude; just don’t be a d**k about it.
2. He Released a CD & Has Another Coming Out Soon
In 2010, he released his first album of four songs called Human.
The above video shows him playing his titular song from the CD to screaming fans at House of Blues in L.A.
He told Entertainment Weekly what went into writing that ballad:
“Human” is really special to me. It’s the first song I ever wrote. I wrote it was when I was 15, and to my estimation, it’s still one of the best songs I’ve ever written, only because I was so uninhibited by so many things.
That first CD was just the beginning for Criss’ music career. In fact, he has recently given some hints about the new album he has in the works.
So I really have been putting that in high gear and I have been working for the past three years seriously on making that album, and it’s tough ’cause I come from so many different worlds.
3. He Graduated From The University of Michigan
Criss has a special connection to his college, and even posted this Vine in its honor.
At the Ann-Arbor based university, he studied theater.
It was during his time there that he met a group of musicians, who would later accompany him as he played a free concert at the school.
He told annarbor.com about their unique bond:
But every one of these guys … I met in college, and I would have done anything to be in a band with them. … I don’t use hyperbole often, but I’ve never met or known people like these guys. And I didn’t know if I’d ever be able to do it, but it was my dream to put these guys together, … and here they are.
I think the gateway drug was my dad. It’s one of the beautiful accidents of my life, given that Michigan played such a massive role in my life. My dad kind of lived all over the place when he was growing up, but his father worked for GM, and so he grew up going to Michigan games. So getting that sense of Michigan’s grandeur from him appealed to me, and I auditioned and got in.
4. He First Got Noticed Through a ‘Harry Potter’ YouTube Video
At Michigan, he founded a musical theater company called StarKid Production. In 2009, the company put a video up called “A Very Potter Musical,” a parody of the Harry Potter novels. To date, the viral video has 10 million views.
As a result people refer to the actor as “Harry.”
He told MTV:
A lot of people who know me as Harry, it’s kind of weird, because I’m not Harry Potter.
He told the LA Times about his big break, saying, “It was overwhelming, it happened by accident. It was right at the advent of the viral video.”
5. He Made His Movie Debut Opposite Kristen Wiig
Although there is a 13-year age difference between Criss and Wiig, the actress didn’t seem to pay much attention to the gap.
She told the Daily Beast:
Personally, I just don’t ever really think about age when it comes to relationships, and you can’t really help who you fall in love with. I think every guy I’ve ever dated has been younger than me. None of them have been Darren’s age, but I just don’t really think about it, and I have no idea why! I’ll meet someone, find out how old they are later, and be like, ‘Really?’ I just don’t know why.
In an interview with Out magazine, Criss described his unique movie role:
My Girl Most Likely character, Lee, is in a novelty act at one of the casinos in Atlantic City. There’s a Britney Spears character, and I’m in a fake Backstreet Boys group. He’s surrounded by all this absurd caricature, but serves as — and I mean this in the comedic sense—the straight man. You want to be funny, but your job is to look at the audience and go, ‘Is this really happening?’
When asked what her favorite part of filming was, during the movie premiere in Paris, Wiig said it was “watching Darren singing Backstreet Boys.”
“That was my first day,” answered Criss, laughing.