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American Crime Story’s second season to centre on Gianni Versace’s assassination
The highly anticipated second season of American Crime Story is returning to Foxtel, centring around the murder of legendary fashion designer Gianni Versace. Actor Darren Criss spoke to Sky News about the show and his role as the fame-seeking Andrew Cunanan. | 19 May 2018
The bottom left pic is cute.
realdemeterstamell: Some stills from my interview with the lovely @darrencriss for #TheAssassinationOfGianniVersace. I saw him again later that night & he remembered how to pronounce my name, so he’s pretty much one of my favourite people now. That’s it. That’s all it takes. #DarrenCriss#Sydney#latergram
aaronjayyoung: DARREN CRISS // photographed in LA. Assist - @joshuabae_
Jeremy wrote:I found Darren perfect and I personally don't try to have sympathy for Cunanan. I consider him as the vilain of the show and that's it.
Donatella is indeed a bit special but I do believe she's trully sad for his brother. I'm surprised you think Ricky was a bit restrained, his character seemed devastated to me.
I also liked Darren's acting. I agree, that Cunanan is the villain of the show. Absolutely no doubt about that. But I kept in mind what Darren said, that even with villains, we share some commonalities. I think Darren also said something to the effect that (I'm paraphrasing) he didn't want to portray Cunanan as simply 100% evil, that he wanted to portray him as a complex human being. The first time I watched, I saw at a few points, Darren showing us Cunanan's humanity. As I said earlier, I felt a twinge of sympathy for Cunanan when his friend Lizzie finds him trying on Lizzie's husband's suit. At first she's angry at him, but when he said to her, "I have nothing" (which we saw in his almost empty closet), I did feel something for him. It also is interesting when Cunanan was so moved by the opera that he cried. (And we see Versace behind the stage, who--to me-- looked also moved by the emotion in the opera singer's voice.) I watched parts of the episode again and noticed how Cunanan was curious about the pretty objects on stage (while he was waiting for Versace). Cunanan picked up the top portion of the decanter and fumbled with it, a little clumsy. And he seemed interested in another crystal looking object (I don't remember what it was), showing his curiosity.
Intellectually, I think Donatella must be incredibly sad because of her brother's death. The point where I felt her emotion the most was when she paused when she saw her brother's blood on the steps. I'm just saying, though, I didn't really feel an intense grief from her. I lost a family member, and it was so intense that I was unable to stop my emotions from pouring out. But that is me, and I admit, I may be projecting here. Everyone grieves differently.
Likewise, I may be projecting regarding Antonio's grief. I think the part where I felt he was a bit restrained was when he was being interrogated. He was so polite to that infuriating and homophobic officer (FBI?). But don't get me wrong, I thought Ricky did a wonderful job. I thought Darren, Ricky, Edgar and Penelope all were wonderful.
I loved this article. I'm very appreciative of Darren clearing things up for me. I'm also very appreciative about how the producers were committed to representation, by having a half-Filipino actor play Andrew Cunanan, who was half-Filipino. Racism does not have to be malicious to perpetuate itself. There is intentional racial discrimination, but there also is systemic racism that will continue to cause a disparate impact on members of a group. I also appreciate what Darren said about Jon Jon Briones, a wonderful actor with years of experience who because of his race, gets limited roles. I hope Jon Jon Briones gets recognized for his acting and hopefully, more doors will open for him.
Indiewire wrote: Darren Criss on Not Whitewashing Half-Filipino Andrew Cunanan In ‘Versace’ — Turn It On Podcast
Darren Criss calls it “serendipity” that he already was in Ryan Murphy’s orbit when the producer focused in on telling the tale of serial killer Andrew Cunanan for “The Assassination of Gianni Versace,” the latest edition of “American Crime Story.” Cunanan was half-Filipino, just as Criss is, which gave the actor a rare opportunity to play his ethnicity.
“I believe there are a lot of great half-Filipino actors out there that could have done this a lot of justice, [but] when Ryan talked about doing this three years ago, before we actually got the ball rolling last year, I would joke with him saying, ‘Hey man, I would love to do this, but if you don’t want me to do it with you, I defy you to find another guy who looks kind of like him, who’s in the same age range, who’s in your Rolodex of actors. Because if you don’t cast a half-Filipino guy, the Filipino community is going to cry bloody murder. So I don’t know what your other options are!’
“I would have never held that against him but I would jokingly think that. I’m glad it all came to fruition when it did.”
Executive producer Nina Jacobson said it was important that the actor playing Cunanan was half-Filipino, especially after having just produced the upcoming film “Crazy Rich Asians.”
“We did not want to whitewash a role,” she said. “Andrew was half-Filipino, and it was really important to not just get a guy and say that he was. We wanted to be authentic in terms of Andrew’s background. And the fact that Darren had kind of this striking resemblance physically, the chops of an actor and professionalism to take on a role of this disturbing hard role to play that he also could authentically play a half-Filipino character as opposed to the usual Hollywood thing.”
Criss said that he doesn’t think whitewashing comes out of any conscious malice, but admits that he may harbor “half-white privilege” in that view.
“What makes good casting work is when you have good actors. There are a lot of great Filipino actors that I think people just aren’t thinking outside of the box enough,” he said.
Criss pointed specifically to Jon Jon Briones, who plays Modesto Cunanan in “The Assassination of Gianni Versace.”
“He’s a tried and true Broadway veteran, he’s been acting for years, he’s not just some newbie — maybe to the film and television world but certainly not as a craftsman of acting,” Criss said. “And Ryan asked me, ‘Who is this guy, I love him! Where’s he from, how come he doesn’t get roles?’ I said, ‘Ryan, he does but he’s a Filipino man who looks a certain way. You have to understand the roles he’s being offered.’ The Thai terrorist on ‘CSI.’ And he’s from the original cast of ‘Miss Saigon,’ he’s doing Miss Saigon right now. He’s the Engineer on Broadway. What it takes is a role like this, hopefully, where people go, ‘oh! This guy is really good!’ It sucks we have to wait around for roles that show you off within the corner you’re put in to be able to play in the larger room.”
“The Assassination of Gianni Versace” may have Versace in the title, but it’s really the story of Andrew Cunanan, and the tale of how he became the killer of not just Versace but several other socialites across the country. It was a juicy role for Criss, and IndieWire’s Turn It On podcast recently met up with the actor to discuss the mystery of Cunanan, the sensitivity of the fact that so many people impacted by Cunanan may be watching, and how his ethnicity as a half-Filipino man made him the perfect fit for the role. Later in this episode, we also talked to American Crime Story producers Brad Simpson and Nina Jacobson about the franchise. But first, we talked to Criss about how this role impacted him. Listen below!
Another interview (along with podcast, see below):
Variety wrote: Remote Controlled: ‘Versace’ Star Darren Criss on Playing Andrew Cunanan, Plus ‘The Four’ Experts
January 19, 2018
Welcome to “Remote Controlled,” a podcast from Variety featuring the best and brightest in television, both in front of and behind the camera.
In this week’s episode, Variety’s executive editor of TV Debra Birnbaum talks with Darren Criss, who stars in the new installment of FX’s “American Crime Story” franchise, “The Assassination of Gianni Versace.”
Criss says that he’d been discussing playing serial killer Andrew Cunanan with series creator Ryan Murphy for several years. “My reaction was, I’d be thrilled to do this,” he says. “I thought it was something he forgot about and was just spitballing. But he stuck to his word, and I’m so glad he finally decided to do this.”
But he knew the part would always be his, he admits. “I almost defy you, Ryan, to find someone else in your camp who somehow looks like this guy, is actually half-Filipino, is in the same age range,” he says. “Good luck!”
Criss wasn’t intimidated, though, by the thought of playing a serial killer. “People always think that’s some sort of departure, and while I understand that curiosity, I can’t help but feel that same curiosity would be present if I had started with something like this, and this is what you knew me for,” he says. “People forget that actors are actors, and we depart for a living.”
And he says he found ways to relate to Cunanan, and hopes other people will, too. “We all have more in common not only with each other, but the worst person you can think of than we like to admit,” he says. “The differences are small in number but huge in content.”
Criss did his own research and talked to people who knew him. “The show explores the best parts of him and the worst parts of him,” he says. “It’s really a healthy mix of a lot of unhealthy things.”
The more he learned, the more he sympathized with Cunanan. “My heart just broke constantly for this guy,” he said. “The wasted potential is the most heartbreaking tragedy of all of it.”
Remote Controlled with Debra Birnbaum Ep76 - Darren Criss on 'American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace Darren Criss discusses transitioning from "Glee" into the role of serial killer Andrew Cunanan on "American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace." Plus, "The Four's" panel of experts — Diddy, DJ Khaled, Meghan Trainor and Charlie Walk — weigh in on how their music competition show will find the next big music star.
Interesting interview. From acsversace-news (via dcriss-archive):
Entertainment Weekly wrote: The Assassination of Gianni Versace: Darren Criss compares Andrew Cunanan to an Instagrammer
January 17, 2018
There are a ton of great performances in FX’s The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story but perhaps the most revelatory is Darren Criss as serial killer Andrew Cunanan.
[. . . ]
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Were you at all nervous stepping into this? It’s the biggest and most complicated role you’ve tackled. DARREN CRISS: There were no nerves whatsoever. This was the most exciting, I-can’t-wait-to-do-this experience I’ve ever had. This is an opportunity I’ve been waiting and working my entire life for… This is a role of a lifetime. I’m dripping with gratitude and overwhelmed. I’m so fully aware that this is not something that comes around often. So that’s what it felt like every day. There’s not nervousness or trepidation or fear. I sort of always loved things that look to other people like they’re hard to take on. I’m not saying anything is easy.
There’s so many things about this that are great. Not only is it a great role but it’s a fantastic story with a lot of fantastic weight that I really think sheds light on a lot of things that haven’t been able to be exposed.
So no, I wasn’t nervous at all. I think people have this fixation with dark things — they think they’re scary or hard. Maybe I’m just a dark person. I just find that all dark, scary, conventionally negative things come from pretty relatable places: fear, embarrassment, ambition, and disappointment.
You’re thinking about the emotions that bare them. It doesn’t come home to me. It doesn’t make me afraid of Andrew. It doesn’t make me love him or hate him any less. I get disappointed by him. My heart breaks for him, mainly because of all the good things we get to see about him.
On a professional level, it’s the excitement of being with people that I love working with within a story I think is really important and really matters. On a personal, role level, it’s so nice to be in something that has so many layers and has an opportunity to challenge audiences senses of empathy. Being able to be a part of that is like being able to go to do the most invigorating work one can do.
How did you get inside the character of Andrew? He’s so complicated and mysterious. What was the preparation?
. . . The only thing you can really do is not so much preparation but being available to all emotions at all times which I think is probably the most important thing. At any point, he’s ready to fire off in any direction. You can’t really prepare for that. . .
What was the biggest challenge of this?
. . . We all remember what it is to want to be liked or stand out or use whatever wiles you have to assert yourself or not assert yourself. All these things that are extremely relatable that I really do relate to him and we have more similarities than that. Obviously, the things that make us different are big but I think they’re few in number.
Ryan Murphy launched your career in so many ways. What was it like working with him this time? He was adamant you play this role.
This was the first time I got to work with Ryan in a real sense as far as us getting in the kitchen and getting our hands dirty and really working on the material. By the time I got to Glee, he wasn’t really directing and he didn’t direct me on American Horror Story [Criss guest-starred on AHS: Hotel]. I never worked directly with him. We’ve been friends obviously as my boss and seen him at events and parties and stuff and he’s always been a great supporter of me. But we never had really made something like this together. It was cool for me to see.
Ryan is a very prolific guy and he’s created this whole brand around himself and that’s the guy I knew and would have rosé with. But seeing him actually at the helm, creating this world, doing what he does best is really cool. It’s really inspiring. It was really a thrill to work with someone in that capacity. Actors are only as good as the moments they get and he’s given me quite an extraordinary moment.
It could easily have veered into camp or gone over the top. But you all keep it very human and grounded.
If that’s what came out, great because I would like to think all of us were shooting for that. You always want something to be as grounded as possible. My interest from day one was showing the humanity of Andrew and that’s something everyone has been interested in from day one. If you just have a cut and dry good guy/bad guy, that’s not interesting. We can’t just vilify Andrew and then what’s the point of following this person if we’re not going to mess with her our sense of relatability to a conventional “villain.” We have to humanize him — that’s the only route to get to know him on a larger level.
I’m really excited to see a lot of the Ricky [Martin], Edgar, and Penelope [Cruz] stuff because I was not there for any of that. It was like shooting two completely different shows. I have no idea how it’s going to play out. I can’t wait to see the parallels.
What do you want people to take away from this?
I really want people to question their sense of empathy and really try and figure out at one point this could have been their own selves. It’s not about Andrew specifically and more people like Andrew: people who idolize excess and how they obsess over the things they don’t have and it ultimately destroys them and the dangers of that. Andrew is somebody that curated his image very well, like with doctoral accuracy, surgical accuracy. He really wants to make sure he was viewed a certain way by certain people. It’s not too dissimilar with how many of us filter our own lives now. I’m talking in extremes here but it can be related to the social media world with how we literally filter our lives and we’re obsessed that people perceive us in a certain way. . .
I think people will relate to that anguish and what it feels like to want to have your image of yourself be as fantastic and larger than life as possible, even if it is false. . . I think he was the pre-Instagram filter Instagrammer. He filtered his own life. The thing people said about him was that he was a storyteller. He wanted people to think a certain way of him. That to me is less devious and more misguided and heartbreaking. I don’t get mad at Andrew — my heart breaks for him. The enormous potential that someone so creative and charismatic put his energies in a totally misguided place: that’s the stuff that really interests me.
Via Aaron Kurlander’s Instagram Story (January 18th, 2018)
wmag: Former Glee star @darrencriss still sings and dances in American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace, but this time, it’s to the deranged ballad of a serial killer. Visit the link in bio to get inside the mind of the precocious star and murderer next door.
Via Michael Beckert’s Instagram Story (January 18th, 2018)
dcriss-archive: [UHQ] Darren Criss Still Sings and Dances in The Assassination of Gianni Versace, But to the Deranged Ballad of a Serial Killer
W Magazine wrote: Darren Criss Still Sings and Dances in The Assassination of Gianni Versace, But to the Deranged Ballad of a Serial Killer
January 18, 2018
Within seconds of meeting Darren Criss, you can tell that his mother raised him right. He has a firm handshake, repeats everyone’s name, and looks them right in the eye. He has the casual affability of a Cub Scout troop leader or someone sitting next to you in the back row of a SoulCycle class. He hands out compliments like full-sized candy bars. In a room full of people, waiting to take his picture and ask him questions, he seems most excited to talk to a fifth grader about the minutia of Harry Potter mythology.
This wouldn’t be so odd except that all of these people are waiting to ask him questions about playing a serial killer. Criss’s latest role is Andrew Cunanan, an openly-gay escort turned spree murderer whose last crime before he killed himself is the titular one in American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace, which premiered on Wednesday night . . .
But maybe Darren, the precocious star next door, and Andrew, the precocious killer next door, aren’t so far apart after all. “Of the many things that break my heart about Andrew is that after this all came out, and friends and loved ones of his found out about it, they were mortified. They couldn't believe it,” Criss says. “Andrew was a very bright, affable, lovable guy. He had so much promise, and you wonder a little, then, how does a kid with all this go down such a destructive path.”
[. . .]
His unique genes might have been part of the reason why Ryan Murphy, the executive producer of the series, thought of Criss for the part. Murphy first gave Criss his big break when he was cast as Blaine Anderson on Glee. It would appear there's a trendlet of former song-and-dance teen stars graduating to serial killer roles, with Zac Efron signed up to play Ted Bundy and Disney Channel star Ross Lynch on screen as Jeffrey Dahmer.
“I really am allergic to the notion that playing somebody who did terrible things somehow elevates a career, or validates someone's ability, or qualifies somebody as a serious actor, although I think it does,” Criss says of this serial killer mini-boom. “I spend the same amount of time and due diligence to fictional characters in a lighter world, like Glee, that I do a real person in a much darker world for Andrew Cunanan. I'm still putting the same amount of tokens in the machine, and I do the work, I read the script, and I am very much in tune with the common denominators between myself and that person.”
Still, Criss says that inhabiting the role didn’t affect him too much, and that months of playing grisly murder scenes didn’t come home with him—at least not to a dangerous degree. “I had a dream, it was really hyper-violent, and I had offed several people, I don't even know who they were, it was abstract,” he recalls. “But the dream was not about the violence or the homicide, so much as it was being on the run, on the lam. It was more tied to what was going on when we were shooting the show. And I woke up next to my girlfriend, and seeing her and being terrified, not because in my head I had killed anybody in my dream, but because I was like, ‘Oh my god, she's gonna find out.’”
[. . . ]
“I was less shocked and scared and disturbed by Andrew, and more just utterly heartbroken,” Criss says, looking deep into your eyes like he’s about to ask you out to a school dance. “The thing is so sad to me, and it's such a loss of promise and potential. He could have been a creator, and he decided to be a destroyer. It's just the worse crime of all.”
This article is a nice summary of Darren's work over his career, beginning with A Very Potter Musical with StarKid Productions. Here's an excerpt:
Refinery 29 wrote: American Crime Story: Versace Proves This Is The Year We Need To Make Darren Criss Happen
January 18, 2018
On Wednesday night, Darren Criss debuted one of his most high-profile roles yet as Andrew Cunanan in The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story. It’s also his most intense role to date — an unhinged serial killer — that’s expertly delivered by someone who, up until now, has kept things pretty lighthearted. For many people, however, this might be the first time you’re seeing the 30-year-old actor. His role in ACS is garnering much more press than any of his other work to date, and to those finally getting on board: welcome! The Darren Criss fan club has been waiting for you.
[. . . ]
Watching Criss become a fan favorite on Glee for almost five seasons felt like a triumph for geeks everywhere, and the support of these day-one fans is something Criss told Refinery29 in an interview (brag) that he’d never take for granted.
Clearly, Criss has been doing well these past few years. He has a band with his brother called Computer Games. He had roles in American Horror Story, Supergirl, and the Transformers: Robots In Disguise animated TV show, but none of his work has managed to spark widespread interest the way ACS has. He just landed a profile in The New York Times, glowing write-ups in places like The Daily Beast and Newsweek, and appearances on Jimmy Kimmel and Good Morning America.
When I see stuff like this, as opposed to the knee-jerk I-knew-him-first reaction, I’m positively elated. Yes! Finally! Criss is great, and after watching just the first episode of ACS, I can tell he’s going to surprise even long-time fans with just how talented and emotional his work can be. Until then, here are some flyers for the fan club. We meet every week. Bring snacks.
Into More wrote: Finn Wittrock On Playing Andrew Cunanan's First Victim in "The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story"
18 Jan. 2018
We had a good time,” Wittrock said of working with Criss. “There are some projects where you really take the relationship off screen and this one was more us talking as co-conspirators figuring it out together. He is a very generous person on set and a remarkable versatile actor and really jumps in and out of the character very fluidly.
Track: Darren Criss on Andy Cohen Live (01-17-18) Darren Criss on Andy Cohen Live (January 17th, 2018)
Aw, that's nice of him to get a cute Winnie the Pooh gift for his mom when he was in Japan.
Darren Criss: BUILD Last Minute - Watch as Darren Criss shares a hilarious little Siri secret, as well as some other funny responses in his minute backstage with us. Make sure to tune in to his new series, “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.” | Source
Pics from MTV's TRL:
Darren Criss attends MTV TRL at MTV Studios on January 17 2018 in New York City
Darren celebrating with friends.
nellcan: I love spending time with and getting inspired by amazing people @priyankachopra @maneeshkgoyal @madhumalati @alanpowell10 congratulations to my fellow Aquarian @darrencriss you are killing it in @americancrimestoryfx (no pun ) #latergram .