Hunger TV wrote:
Darren Criss on fantasy, fame and the future
Nov 23, 2018
For context, it’s one of those intensely hot end-of-July days that everyone in London is complaining about. . . In his perky twang, he gives me “the shorthand” of this: Elsie Fest to organise for autumn, the New York show-tune themed festival he founded; music to work on for Computer Games, the band he started with his brother; marketing for the new piano bar he and his fiancée, Mia Swier, have opened; projects he can’t talk about but is excited about
; a wedding to plan “at some point” next year; work on the house; and that general life admin that creeps up on all of us. “Hey, we all got stuff,” he chimes.
And among all of this, he casually slips in: “I’m also reading scripts and trying to get another acting job if I can get one.”
Which can’t help but make me laugh. If he can get one? Because, let’s be honest, regardless of the Emmys outcome (a big congratulations if you bagged it and if not, you were robbed!), his portrayal of Andrew Cunanan, as well as a stellar career to date (he replaced Daniel Radcliffe in How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
on Broadway to great success, is the mind behind A Very Potter Musical
and has starred in Hedwig and the Angry Inch
), shouldn’t make that too hard. But it’s “cute” – as he would say – to know he doesn’t rest on his laurels.Darren was terrifying and intriguing in his role as Cunanan,
the serial killer who murdered four men before ending his violent spree with fashion designer Gianni Versace in FX’s American Crime Story
retelling of the real-life event in Miami in 1997. When it aired earlier this year, I didn’t know anyone who wasn’t watching it. If you weren’t binge-streaming it, you were glued to BBC2 desperate for next week’s instalment to watch the unfolding plot of a story that in many ways is little known, certainly on the Cunanan front.
[ . . . ]
“The story itself, which is endlessly fascinating, is not only interesting but has significant social weight and things to be discussed and topics that I think are important.
It goes on and on and on,” he enthuses. “The role is incredibly nuanced and varied and complex, which is something that actors wake up in the morning for.”
[ . . . ]
As a viewer, I couldn’t help but find my feelings and point of view change as the narrative revealed Cunanan’s own backstory. “That, to me, is the most heartening thing; that’s the most encouraging thing you could say – that’s the goal.”
His performance has been described as career-defining but it’s not the first time he’s had such an accolade aimed in his direction. Yet you can’t help but think that this one, Emmy nomination aside, might just be the one to carry a little more weight, such was the grit and darkness that came with it and played out by someone we’re more used to associating with the tween spark of Glee
It seems, therefore, an apt time to ask what his fantasy role would be. “Oh man. I have a pretty wild imagination but I’d like to think that my brain isn’t good enough to imagine the part I’d want,” he says. “And, also, fantasies evolve throughout your life based on whatever situation you find yourself in.” American Crime Story, certainly, he says is the kind of role he’d been working and waiting his whole life to play
– which is not to say he dreamt of being a serial killer! “Let’s keep turning left, turning hard rights and hard lefts as much as possible, as long as the story is good.
The name of the game for me is variety and versatility.
If every time I do a role we have people say that’s a real departure from the last thing
that would be awesome.”
[ . . . ]
For ACS producer Ryan Murphy
, it was Darren who codified in the brain. The Glee co-creator had long had him in mind for the part
. “People like Ryan have had their eye on the Cunanan story for a long time and we had worked closely in a few capacities.” Darren just had to play the waiting game. “I honestly said just let me know when you want to do this because obviously it would be a huge opportunity for me and I think it would be an incredible story but I don’t really have the keys for that car, man. You’re the driver, let me know when you want to pick me up!” Three years later and that proverbial beep came.
In real life, Darren has to be one of the most modest and upbeat people, armed with an always-look-on-the-bright-side-of-life attitude. You imagine he’s not all that good at sitting still, hence his potentially self-inflicted to-do list, which you also get the feeling is built from passion
not pain. “I just feel so grateful at every turn of my career;
if you’re able to do anything and that there’s any definition at all is a huge win so I’ll take it where I can get it,” he says referring to the praise he’s received in playing Cunanan, one he’s also quick to bring back down to earth with a very grounding analogy.
“Every moment of your life is defining. The fact that I decided to have granola this morning defines the rest of the way my digestive system works…” he laughs. He has quite the way with words.
This too is helpful in a Hollywood landscape right now that, post-Weinstein and post-Trump, has found itself in troubling times. “What a big, big topic,” he begins. “It’s the Wild West right now, truly, there are so many things that I think it’s not necessarily Hollywood figuring itself out, it’s our whole society figuring it out
as represented by Hollywood. It kind of gets the brunt of it because of its exposure and its influence,” he explains. “There are a lot of good things happening in it for people who have been marginalised and we’re setting new standards for ourselves that we should have set a long time ago, and in that sense it’s really good
. But there are unfortunately other things that are happening where it’s hard to draw the line of what’s right and wrong and a lot of questions are being asked that we’ve never asked ourselves before about what’s appropriate.”