The newest star of “Glee,” Darren Criss, knows how to create a buzz. His creative troupe made a YouTube video, having fun with Harry Potter, which went viral, not once but twice
Photographs: Mitchell Nguyen McCormack
Styling: Ashley Phan-Weston
Interview: Oliver Singer
Then, his first episode on Glee, he performed a cover version of Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” and that went viral, reaching No. 1 on iTunes at the end of 2010. Now he’s here to show off his fashionable side in this “DA MAN” exclusive.
Darren Criss, who affirms that he is a straight guy and very confident about his sexuality—which allows him to play a role such as Blaine—is riding the crest of a huge wave of fame at the moment and hopes to parlay that into a long, acclaimed showbiz career. Born in San Francisco in 1987 (and celebrating his 24th birthday on February 5 this year), he is the son of an Irish-American dad and Filipina-American mom. Before Glee, he studied performing arts at the University of Michigan and acted in theater plays in San Francisco as a kid. He is also an accomplished musician, playing rock ‘n’ roll (like his brother, Chuck) and has started a production troupe with his university mates. He sat down with “DA MAN” in between photos to give us an in-depth look at how it all came to pass.
DA MAN: Have you found that you share a lot in common with Blaine on “Glee”?
DARREN CRISS: Yes, actually. I have felt very fortunate to have the kind of support I did while growing up, and knowing that I’ve escaped the struggle that most are forced to deal with. I feel a sort of survivor’s guilt for having had it so good. I have very much brought these experiences to Blaine in the sense that he has a bit of survivor’s guilt, too. He lives in this magical place where it is cool to be whatever you want. And, you know, it’s almost too perfect. He feels guilt about all the trials and tribulations from before. That is a big similarity between Blaine and myself. I definitely have a lot of guilt about things I never had to deal with. Dalton Academy [the fictional school Blaine attends on “Glee”] is strangely almost exactly like the school I attended. My blazer is the exact same as my high school blazer, the set is a replica of my high school’s halls and classrooms. It is eerie.
DA MAN: Have you become close with any of the cast members of Glee?
DARREN CRISS: I have a great relationship with Max Adler. He plays the bully, but he’s a great guy. He’s kind of in the same boat as I am, being a guest star on the show and having recently been thrown into this crazy carnival that is “Glee.” We’re both featured in the same episodes. So, we’ll always find ourselves sitting on the sidelines, joking, talking.
DA MAN: “Glee” seems to be serving a greater purpose in its commentary on social issues: How are you dealing with the newfound responsibility?
DARREN CRISS: “Glee” is indeed all about tolerance of others. Of course, I am so new to the crazy machine, but I am a supporter of many causes and organizations.
DA MAN: Do you feel your benevolent point of view has anything to do with your upbringing?
DARREN CRISS: Absolutely. Growing up for the most part in a theater in San Francisco, I was inadvertently raised by the gay community. I grew up in this bubble of accepting people for who they were. It was a very supportive system where I never felt alienated for the interests that I had. Still, it is really important to acknowledge that your situation is not the same as everybody else’s. I have watched the gay community struggle, and personally seen many of my friends struggle with all the things I have been accepted for, be it their sexuality or their personal interests. They do not normally get to see a character like Blaine on TV and I thought it was high time that they did. Blaine’s a great character, I feel privileged to be the vessel for him.