Darren Everett Criss (born February 5, 1987 in San Francisco, California) started out in the surprise Youtube hit and Affectionate Parody A Very Potter Musical, as the title character. He banded together with a few fellow University of Michigan students and formed Team StarKid, a theater production company that is now Chicago-based. Among the StarKid projects that he's been in are A Very Potter Musical, A Very Potter Sequel, and Little White Lie.
Even though he's been quoted as wanting to be an actor who sings and not the other way around, he's inseparable from music. He wrote part of the music for Me and My Dick, and all the music for A Very Potter Sequel, as well as for the musical Starship. In the meanwhile, he put out his own 5-song EP, Human. He loves singing live; give this guy a mike, a guitar, and a stage, and he's a happy man.
He played the character of Blaine Anderson, an openly gay student at the all-boys' school Dalton and Kurt Hummel's love interest on Glee. Criss's start on Glee made a huge splash, as his version of Teenage Dream featuring the Dalton Warblers (a.k.a. the Tufts University Beelzebubs) became the highest-selling Glee song overnight, easily beating out Don't Stop Believin'.
Criss made his Broadway debut in the revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying in January 2012, replacing the original Harry Freakin' Potter, Daniel Radcliffe. He then portrayed the title character in Hedwig and the Angry Inch on Broadway in 2015.
In 2018, Criss starred in The Assassination of Gianni Versace, as Andrew Cunanan, which earned him universal acclaim and resulted in him becoming the first Filipino Emmy winner.
He married his longtime girlfriend, Mia Swier, in 2019.
- Glee as Blaine Anderson
- Arrowverse as Music Meister
- The Assassination of Gianni Versace as Andrew Cunanan
- Tomorrowverse as Superman
Tropes that apply to this actor include:
- Affectionate Parody: A Very Potter Musical and A Very Potter Sequel are among the most affectionate.
- Ambiguously Brown: His father is white, his mother Filipino (Visayan, Cebuano to be precise; she's also of Spanish and Chinese descent which is not uncommon for Filipinos, and so he's said himself that it's just easier to say "half-Filipino"). He actually attracted ire for reportedly saying that he was happy he looked racially ambiguous or white rather than Filipino. However, things have gotten better as of late on this front. He finally played a Filipino-American in American Crime Story (with Separated-at-Birth Casting at play, to boot) and even gave his mother's native Cebu a Shout-Out in some of his award acceptance speeches.
- Band of Relatives: Criss used to play for his brother Chuck's band Freelance Whales.
- As of 2017, he and his brother Chuck now make up the band Computer Games.
- The Cameo: In Katy Perry's "Last Friday Night"."BEST PARTY EVER! WOOOOO!"
- Camp Straight: He grew up in gay-friendly San Francisco and is a huge fan of musical theater. When asked about playing a gay character on Glee, he often mentions that he had to "come out as straight" to his theater friends. Taken Up to Eleven with his attire◊ from the Coachella music festival, where he walked around shirtless covered in multicolored body paint and wearing clip-on earrings and rainbow nail polish.
- Companion Cube: Criss is famous for his trademark pink sunglasses. He even got them into a scene on Glee.
- The Cover Changes the Gender: Usually averted in his songs, whether it's Disney, Glee or his own work. Arguably plays with it in the case of Glee, as he plays a gay character. And in the case of this cover of "Happy to Keep His Dinner Warm", a song sung by a woman who dreams of being the ultimate housewife, he explicitly plays it as a gay man to his husband, and some of the lyrics are changed to show Criss's support for gay marriage.
- Cover Version
- Has an old YouTube account under the name of Iclemyer, where he does covers of Disney songs. Included are "Belle", "I'll Make a Man Out of You", and "Part of Your World".
- Lampshaded in AVPS. "I make weird covers of Disney songs. Who does that?"
- His cover of "Teenage Dream" is widely considered to be far better than the original.
- Creator Backlash: Later regretted playing a gay character on Glee despite being straight in real life, feeling that doing so deprives actual gay actors of their potential roles.note
- Deadpan Snarker:
Darren: Looks like we finally did what everybody was waiting on for so long... A Hey Monday song! Boy, I sure hope people liked it!
- He and Chris Colfer were snarking jointly on Twitter after "Original Song" aired, in which their characters kissed.
Chris: I fo' sho' thought "RIP Pavarotti" would be trending before "They Kissed". Tisk tisk. He is rolling in his bedazzled grave.
Reporter: How has your life changed since Glee?
- He does this all the time, really.
Darren: How hasn't it changed?!... I bought a new sweater.
- "I Am" Song: "The Coolest Girl". Written (as quoted by Word of God) by Criss to be another "Part Of Your World" or "On My Own", sung by Bonnie Gruesen (Hermione) in AVPS.
- Incredibly Long Note: "To Have A Home", AVPS.
- "I Want" Song: Most of his songs, of the romantic variety.
- Looped Lyrics: "Don't you want the way I feel/Don't you want the way I feel/Don't you want the way I feel for you".
- Love Nostalgia Song: "Sami"; "Don't You"
- Lyrical Dissonance: "Jealousy", a sunny and energetic song about Envy so consuming that he can't stand looking in the mirror, and he tries unsuccessfully to drown it out with alcohol.
- Obsession Song: "The Muse"; "Jealousy"
- Older Than They Look: No matter how old he gets each year, his appearance will arguably make him pass for a guy in his early-twenties.
- Performance Artist: He was a fan of musical theater growing up, and plays six instruments, sings, acts, and writes his own material.
- Queer Character, Queer Actor: Invoked. Criss himself is straight, and he announced after wrapping up American Crime Story that he would no longer seek out or accept gay roles, as he doesn't want to take that opportunity away from gay actors.
- Rewritten Pop Version: "Not Alone", "Sami" ("Harry"), "Even Though" and "Stutter" all have solo versions.
- Wild Hair: He sheared down to a more debonair look for Glee, but he has naturally curly hair which can become this when he lets it grow out.