Darren Criss Talks About Life Before Glee, Relating to Blaine, and Old Hollywood
It's rare that an Internet star and self-described theater junkie can be called "debonair," but 23-year-old Glee heartthrob Darren Criss fits the bill. The San Francisco native catapulted to offline fame with a suave rendition of Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream" during Glee's "Never Been Kissed" episode, and two months later, he shares an EW cover with co-star Chris Colfer. Just shy of Glee's big post-Super Bowl episode this Sunday, we caught up with Criss to discuss his character Blaine, ambitions, and the movie scene he loves most.
You went from largely unknown outside your viral fame bubble to pretty much a phenomenon -- in a short amount of time. Even though you've worked for awhile, do you feel like an overnight success?
No. I think people love to attach themselves to the idea of an overnight success. That may be true about me. I have no idea how I'm perceived in the world; I certainly spend a lot of time with myself. I know I how feel about everything. It's been very gradual though. I've worked hard for a long time, gone to school, and it's something I aspired towards. The fact that it's starting to happen now -- I mean, it's a hard question to answer. I always keep busy. I run a theater company in Chicago right on Lake Shore, I have my own music life, and I'm going all over the place. This whole thing just adds to it -- to an insane degree. I keep very busy, so I don't get a whole lot of time to notice that life has changed.
That's kind of hard to believe.
It hasn't really. I still live in the same place. My room's still a mess. My dryer's still broken and I still never buy groceries -- much as I wish I did. Or go to the gym.
Does being on Glee force you to redirect your ambitions? Do you have the same goals as you did before the show, or are they tailored now to this musical-comedy world?
Luckily for me, I had a lot of things going on before Glee. Of course Glee's been an incredible extension and platform for those things, but if Blaine were to be shot and killed in a couple episodes, I wouldn't find myself at a loss of projects to occupy myself with -- not in the sense that there are offers or anything, but just because I'm an insane person and I keep my myself busy on my own projects. Who knows? We'll see what I have time for. I was about to go into the studio for my big full-length album but I had to stop because I got cast in Glee. We'll see how much I'll be able to balance at the same time. So far Glee's the best thing to be occupied by.
I've heard you say Tom Ford helps inspire your performance as Blaine. Can you elaborate? Are there distinct parallels there?
Oh, easily. Very, very confident and very sexy. Tom Ford's an alluring guy. I wish I could say I had qualities that were similar to Mr. Ford, but that was kind of in the breakdown for what the role was. I thought, "Oh my God, this guy's totally Tom Ford." Very slick and cool, you know? Guys want to be him, gay men and girls want to be with him -- myself included. He's a very sexy man. That'd be a close comparison to me. But for me, I'm also not thinking of comparison. You serve the story and it's in the script. You do your best to bring whatever shards of you to the role to make it believable.
Lastly, we do a segment at Movieline called "My Favorite Scene" where we ask you to name your favorite film scene of all time. What's yours?
I have a lot. That's very tough. God -- there's so many great scenes. I'll say -- one of many -- from Casablanca. Any interaction between Rick and Captain Renault.
No Ilsa, eh?
Ah, no. Just the repartee Rick and Captain Renault had. That kind of classic, older Hollywood banter that's so charming. I can never get enough of it. I wish that kind of convention was still plausible.
You're more 'Old Hollywood' than most twentysomethings these days.
I'll take it as the highest compliment. I wish I was old Hollywood.
[Photo: Getty Images]