Criss in 2015
Darren Everett Criss
February 5, 1987
|Alma mater||University of Michigan|
Mia Swier (m. 2019)
|Instruments||Vocals, piano, guitar, drums, violin, mandolin, harmonica|
|Glee, StarKid Productions, Charlene Kaye, Computer Games|
Darren Everett Criss (born February 5, 1987) is an American actor, singer and songwriter. He received Emmy and Golden Globe acting awards for his leading role in The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story (2018). He has also appeared on Broadway and in film, and has released several recordings as a soloist and in a band.
A founding member and co-owner of StarKid Productions, a musical theater company based in Chicago, Criss first garnered attention playing the lead role of Harry Potter in, and writing most of the music and lyrics for, StarKid's musical production of A Very Potter Musical. The theater troupe made Billboard history when their original album, Me and My Dick, became the first charting student-produced musical recording, debuting at number eleven on the Top Cast Albums chart in 2010. Criss has also starred on Broadway in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and Hedwig and the Angry Inch. In 2015, Criss co-founded Elsie Fest which is touted as "New York City's first outdoor music festival celebrating tunes from the stage and screen".
Criss is best known for his portrayal of Blaine Anderson on the Fox musical comedy-drama series Glee from 2010 until 2015. Initially appearing as the lead vocalist of Glees Dalton Academy Warblers, Criss' first number, a cover version of "Teenage Dream", became the fastest-selling Glee single, reached number eight on the Billboard Hot 100, and was certified gold in the US. The Warblers have sold over 1.3 million tracks, and the soundtrack album, Glee: The Music Presents the Warblers (2011), peaked at number two on the US Billboard 200. He was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2015 for writing the song "This Time" for the Glee finale.
In March 2017, Criss debuted his indie pop band Computer Games along with his brother Chuck Criss. Their first album, Lost Boys Life EP features 4 songs written by the duo. The lead single "Every Single Night" debuted at #2 on Billboard's "Hot Singles". In December 2017, Criss released a 5-track solo EP titled Homework. The EP debuted #1 on Billboard's Heatseekers Chart and #7 on Billboard's Independent Albums Chart.
In addition to his music endeavors, Criss starred in the second installment of Ryan Murphy's American Crime Story. Subtitled The Assassination of Gianni Versace (2018), Criss's portrayal of spree killer Andrew Cunanan received acclaim from critics, and earned him an Emmy win for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie and a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Miniseries, or Television Film.
Criss was born in San Francisco, California, the youngest child of Cerina and Charles William Criss, an investment banker and a patron of the arts. He has an older brother, Charles "Chuck" Criss, who is a member of the band Freelance Whales. Criss is Eurasian - his mother is a native of Cebu, Philippines, while his father, a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is of English, German, and Irish descent. Criss was raised primarily in San Francisco, apart from 1988-92, when the family resided in Honolulu, Hawaii, where his father, Charles started EastWest Bank, serving as chairman and CEO.
Criss attended Roman Catholic schools. He completed his elementary education at Stuart Hall for Boys, and later graduated from Saint Ignatius College Preparatory in 2005. In 2009, Criss obtained his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Michigan, majoring in Theater Performance and minoring in Musicology and Italian.
Criss' interest in music started in early childhood; at age five, he began taking violin lessons and was classically trained for the next fifteen years. Criss taught himself how to play other instruments, including guitar, piano, mandolin, harmonica, and drums. In high school, Criss immersed himself in music - he held the position of concertmaster in the school orchestra, he fronted his own band, and was voted "most likely to win a Grammy" by his peers. When he was fifteen, Criss began learning music composition and wrote his first song, which he later used as the title track of his first EP Human, released in 2009.
Criss also showed an interest for the performing arts. At age ten, he was accepted into the American Conservatory Theater (Young Conservatory program) where he studied theater performance throughout his formative years. At St Ignatius, he was a member of the performing arts program and acted in work, including, The Music Man, The Diary of Anne Frank, and Fiddler on the Roof. He was active as both an actor and director in the University of Michigan's student-run theater organization Basement Arts. In 2008, he spent a semester abroad studying Italian theater at the Accademia dell'Arte in Arezzo, Italy.
Criss made his professional stage debut at the age of ten as Cesario in 42nd Street Moon's production of Fanny (1997), then played Mauro in the Richard Rodgers and Stephen Sondheim musical Do I Hear a Waltz? (1998), and Beauregard Calhoun in Babes in Arms (1999).
Throughout his adolescence, Criss appeared in a number of the American Conservatory Theater's plays, notably A Christmas Carol, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and The Voysey Inheritance. At the University of Michigan, he performed in stage productions such as Pride and Prejudice, A Few Good Men, and The Cripple of Inishmaan.
Upon receiving his Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2009, Criss, along with some friends and classmates from the University of Michigan, co-founded StarKid Productions, a musical theater company. His most prominent acting role with StarKid has been that of Harry Potter in the musical comedies A Very Potter Musical, A Very Potter Sequel, and A Very Potter Senior Year (based on the Harry Potter series of novels by J.K. Rowling). He also co-wrote the music and lyrics for A Very Potter Musical with A.J. Holmes and Me and My Dick with A.J Holmes and Carlos Valdes. He solely wrote the music and lyrics for A Very Potter Sequel and Starship.
In January 2012, Criss made his Broadway debut, replacing Daniel Radcliffe in the role of J. Pierrepont Finch in the revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying for a three-week engagement at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre. His stint there proved to be a success: apart from Daniel Radcliffe's final week, the musical had the three most lucrative weeks of its 11-month run with Criss in the lead role, grossing more than four million dollars.
Criss took on the role of Hedwig in Hedwig and the Angry Inch from April 29, 2015, to July 19, 2015, at the Belasco Theater. He headlined the national tour in San Francisco and Los Angeles, from October 2 to November 27, 2016.
Blaine attended Dalton Academy and was lead singer of its glee club, The Dalton Academy Warblers. Blaine initially served as a friend and mentor for Kurt, the bullied gay member of the Warblers' rival glee club, New Directions. Chemistry between the two characters, combined with fan support for the potential couple, led series co-creator Ryan Murphy to pair them romantically onscreen. At the beginning of the third season, Blaine transfers to McKinley High and joins New Directions; concurrently, Criss was promoted from recurring guest star to the show's main cast.
In the subsequent seasons, Blaine goes off to college and later returns to Dalton to become the vocal director of the Warblers. In the final season, he marries his long-time love, Kurt. Discussing public response to his character, Criss stated that he particularly enjoyed comments from "people from parts of the world who are maybe not as exposed to certain ideologies", but had reconsidered their stance on relationships and human rights as a result of the Blaine and Kurt storyline. He called this response "phenomenal" and said, "I was a straight kid growing up in a very gay community and it's something that I've had to watch so many friends have to struggle with and have no place to go to identify in kind of a grander media culture. To be a small piece of that machine is incredibly wonderful."
In 2017, Criss reunited with Glee creator Ryan Murphy to portray serial killer Andrew Cunanan in the second season of Murphy's anthology series American Crime Story. His performance received acclaim from critics, and earned Criss a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie. He also earned a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Limited Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television.
On July 10, 2019, it was announced that Criss would be an actor, executive producer, and writer for Royalties, a new show on the streaming service Quibi. Criss is working with previous collaborators Matt and Nick Lang of Team StarKid, who are to co-write the series as well as executive produce.
On September 7, 2012, Criss made his feature film debut in the comedy Girl Most Likely. It premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and was released nationwide on July 19, 2013. Previously titled Imogene, the film starred Kristen Wiig, Annette Bening, and Matt Dillon.
Criss began his solo music career while attending the University of Michigan. Playing in small venues, he developed his own musical repertoire which today consists of standards from the Great American Songbook, contemporary songs, Disney songs, and his own compositions.
On July 20, 2010, Criss released an independently-produced EP called Human. Describing his album as "soul-folk" to Entertainment Weekly, it peaked at No. 17 on the Billboard Top Heatseekers Albums chart. On December 10, 2010, Criss became the 400,000th member of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). In April 2011, he signed with Sony Music Entertainment. He is in the process of recording a full-length studio album, with a release date yet to be determined.
Criss' first solo music tour visited 17 cities in the United States, Canada, and France from May 29-June 30, 2013, and included songs from Glee, StarKid, his Human EP, and new material from his upcoming solo album.
Criss is credited as one of the primary songwriters and composers for StarKid Productions. He has contributed songs to A Very Potter Musical, Me and My Dick (which became the first-ever student-produced college musical to reach Billboard, debuting at No. 11 on the Top Cast Albums chart), Little White Lie, and A Very Potter Senior Year. Subsequently, Criss solely composed all the songs and music for A Very Potter Sequel, its companion album A Very StarKid Album, and Starship, which landed at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Cast Albums chart, and at No. 134 on the Billboard 200 chart.
In November 2011, Criss participated in StarKid's first national concert tour, The SPACE Tour, for the New York and Boston shows, and, in the summer of 2012, he joined them again for their second national tour, Apocalyptour, for the Los Angeles and New York shows.
As Blaine, Criss features in many musical performances on Glee, which have been released as singles, available for download. His first performance, "Teenage Dream" by Katy Perry, was featured on the soundtrack album Glee: The Music, Volume 4. It reached number eight on the Billboard Hot 100 in the week ending November 27, 2010, and number one on the Billboard Digital Songs chart.
It was the best-selling song in the US that week, selling 214,000 copies, the largest figure for a Glee title. It was only the second US-certified gold single in the show's history. Both Billboard Jillian Mapes and Erica Futterman of Rolling Stone deemed "Teenage Dream" the best song of "Never Been Kissed", the episode in which it featured.
The New York Daily News Anthony Benigno gave the song an "A", and noted that it was "flawless" and improved on Perry's original. The performance was nominated for the Best Gay Moment of the Year and Favorite Music Video awards at the 2010 AfterElton.com Visibility Awards. A Billboard cover-feature on Criss noted that the performance "arguably ushered in the trend of more current pop hits being reworked by the [Glee] cast."
Later songs performed by Blaine and the Warblers became popular enough to warrant a Warbler soundtrack album, Glee: The Music Presents the Warblers. It debuted at No. 2 on the US Billboard 200 and No. 1 on Billboard Soundtracks chart, selling 86,000 copies in its first week. The Warbler tracks had sold over 1.3 million copies as singles by the time the album was released.
From May 21-July 3, 2011, Criss and the cast of Glee performed in Glee Live! In Concert!, touring the US, Canada, England, and Ireland. According to Billboard, it was the 16th most successful concert tour of 2011, grossing more than $40 million, with total attendance topping 485,000. All 40 dates sold out, including shows at Staples Center, Nassau Coliseum, and The O2 Arenas in London and Dublin.
For Season 6 of Glee, Criss composed "Rise" for the episode "The Rise and Fall of Sue Sylvester" and "This Time" for the series finale. Criss was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics for writing "This Time".
Criss has appeared on the magazine covers of Billboard,Entertainment Weekly,Out,Playbill,TV Guide,Da Man,GT,Prestige, and Essential Homme. Criss is featured in the fall ad campaign (2011) for Uniqlo, a Japanese clothing line. Criss was named one of Peoples Sexiest Men Alive (2011), and was ranked No. 1 on AfterElton's "Hot 100" list (2011 & 2012), and No. 1 on GQ Magazine's "30 Under 30: The Most Stylish Young Men In Hollywood" list (2012).
Criss is an investor and partner of The Motley, a California-based men's grooming e-tailer.
Criss is an advocate for LGBT rights, and is an active supporter of The Trevor Project, the leading national organization focused on suicide prevention efforts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth. Criss is the recipient of Variety's Power of Youth Philanthropy award for his contributions to The Trevor Project.
Criss recorded the Bob Dylan song "New Morning", featuring his brother, Chuck Criss, for Amnesty International. It was part of the compilation album Chimes of Freedom: Songs of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International, released on January 24, 2012.
Criss has performed at various charity benefits including American Conservatory Theater, AIDS Project Los Angeles, New Conservatory Theatre Center, Toys for Tots, City of Hope National Medical Center, Motion Picture & Television Fund, Public School Arts, MusiCares Foundation, The Old Vic, UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, Young Storytellers Foundation, and the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.
|2005||I Adora You||Josh||Short film, minor role|
|2009||Walker Phillips||Elliott||Short film|
|2010||The Chicago 8||Yippee Man||Minor role|
|2011||Glee: The 3D Concert Movie||Blaine Anderson||Concert documentary|
|2012||Girl Most Likely||Lee||Feature film debut|
|2013||The Wind Rises||Katayama||Voice-over role|
|2013||The Tale of the Princess Kaguya||Sutemaru||Voice-over role|
|2014||Stan Lee's Mighty 7||Micro||Voice-over role|
|2019||Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles||Raphael||Voice; direct-to-video|
|2019||Midway||Commander Eugene E. Lindsey|
|2009||Eastwick||Josh Burton||Recurring role, 5 episodes|
|2010||Cold Case||Ruben Harris||Episode: "Free Love"|
|2010-2015||Glee||Blaine Anderson||Recurring role (Season 2); 14 episodes|
Main Role (Seasons 3, 4, 5 & 6)
|2011||Archer||Mikey and Tommy||Episode: "Placebo Effect" (voice role)|
|2011, 2012||The Glee Project||Himself||Episodes: "Individuality", "Pairability", and "Glee-ality" (Season 1), "Romanticality" (Season 2)|
|2012||Glee: Don't Stop Believing||Himself||Documentary on Glee|
|2012||The Cleveland Show||Hunter||Episode: "Jesus Walks" (voice role)|
|2013||Web Therapy||Augie Sayles||Episodes: "Long Distance Lovers", "Losing Followers", "Closer When We're Apart" (Season 3)|
|2013||2013 Teen Choice Awards||Co-host||Co-hosted with Lucy Hale|
|2013||Six by Sondheim||Franklin Shepard||HBO documentary about the life of legendary composer Stephen Sondheim, interwoven with 6 of his most iconic songs.|
|2014||Whose Line Is It Anyway?||Himself||Various roles of improvisational comedy|
|2015-2017||Transformers: Robots in Disguise||Sideswipe||Voice role for animated robot superhero TV series|
|2015||American Horror Story: Hotel||Justin||Recurring role, 2 episodes|
|2016||Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles Take Time (and Space)||Raphael||Short (voice role)|
|2016||Hairspray Live!||Himself||Mutliplatform host and backstage reporter|
|2017||Supergirl||Music Meister||Episode: "Star-Crossed"|
|2017||The Flash||Music Meister||Episode: "Duet"|
|2018||The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story||Andrew Cunanan||9 episodes|
|2020||Hollywood||Raymond||Also executive producer|
|1997||Fanny||Cesario||42nd Street Moon production||Stage debut|
|1998||Do I Hear a Waltz?||Mauro|
|1999||Babes in Arms||Beauregard Calhoun|
|2005||Shed a Little Light: The Music of James Taylor||Singer and Musician||American Conservatory Theater|
|2006||Paper Canoes[failed verification]||Salmon||Zeitgeist Artworks production|
|2009||A Very Potter Musical||Harry Potter||StarKid Productions||Lead role, Co-songwriter and composer|
|2009||Me and My Dick||Italian restaurant owner||Cameo (voice only), Co-songwriter and composer, guitarist|
|2010||A Very Potter Sequel||Harry Potter||Lead role, Sole songwriter and composer, Co-producer|
|2012||How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying||J. Pierrepont Finch||Broadway||Broadway debut; Lead role|
|2012||A Very Potter Senior Year||Harry Potter||StarKid Productions||Lead role, Co-songwriter and composer|
|2015||Hedwig and the Angry Inch||Hedwig Robinson||Broadway||Lead role|
|2008||That Media Show||Presenter||3 episodes (No. 1, No. 2, No. 5)|
Series about Hollywood, filmmaking, and visual effects.
|2009||Little White Lie||Toby Phillips||StarKid Productions - Web series, Main role, Co-songwriter and musical producer|
|2011||Life of Leopold||Leopold Bonar||Funny or Die - Web series, Lead, Voice role|
|2012||Broadway.com Audience Choice Awards||Host||13th annual award.|
|2015||Tony Awards Red Carpet||Co-host||Co-hosted with Laura Osnes and Sierra Boggess.|
|2016||Countdown to Hairspray Live!||Co-host||Co-hosted with Kristin Chenoweth and Martin Short.|
|2010-2013||Trevor Live||Los Angeles||Benefit for The Trevor Project. In 2010, Criss sang "Not Alone" and "Teenage Dream" with Glee's Dalton Academy Warblers and Katy Perry, in 2011, he sang Tom Jones' hit, "It's Not Unusual", in 2012 he sang an acoustic version of Katy Perry's "Part of Me", and in 2013, he co-sang lead, with the cast of Glee, the Charlie Chaplin song '"Smile".|
|2011||MusiCares Person of the Year||Los Angeles||Criss and Glee's Dalton Academy Warblers performed for Barbra Streisand, in honor of her being named MusiCares Person of the Year by the MusiCares Foundation.|
|2011||Glee Live! In Concert!||US, Canada, England, Ireland||The 16th most successful concert tour of 2011, grossing more than $40 million, with total attendance topping 485,000. All 40 dates sold out, including shows at Staples Center, Nassau Coliseum, and The O2 Arenas in London and Dublin.|
|2011||ASCAP Pop Music Awards||Los Angeles||Criss paid tribute to Rod Stewart by singing a ballad version of Stewart's song "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?", while accompanying himself on piano.|
|2011||Billboard / Hollywood Reporter Film & TV Music Conference||Los Angeles||Criss honored composer Alan Menken with a medley of his own Disney songs, singing alongside Broadway star Lea Salonga.|
|2011||The SPACE Tour||New York & Boston||StarKid Productions' first national concert tour. Majority of songs performed were written and composed by Criss.|
|2011||Sing Out, Raise Hope, Benefit Concert||New York||Criss performed at Lincoln Center with the a cappella singing groups of Harvard University's Krokodiloes, Princeton University's Nassoons, and Yale University's The Whiffenpoofs, at a benefit concert for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation and The Trevor Project.|
|2012||E! Entertainment pre-Oscar Show||Los Angeles||Criss sang "The Rainbow Connection" with Kermit the Frog for the pre-show of the 84th Academy Awards.|
|2012||Apocalyptour||New York & Los Angeles||StarKid Productions' second national concert tour.|
|2012||Fundraiser for Barack Obama||Los Angeles||Criss performed for the President of the United States at an LGBT-sponsored campaign fundraising gala.|
|2013||57th Presidential Inauguration||Washington, D.C.||
|2013||Listen Up Tour||US, Canada & France||Criss headlined his first solo music tour, which visited 18 cities from May 29-June 30. The set included songs from Glee, StarKid, his Human EP, and new material from his upcoming solo album.|
|2013||A Capitol Fourth||Washington, D.C.||Criss co-headlined the 4th of July celebration concert on the National Mall.|
|2014||Michael Feinstein's New Year's Eve at the Rainbow Room||New York||Criss co-sang with Michael Feinstein a medley of Frank Sinatra songs.|
|2016||Broadway Today with Darren Criss and Betsy Wolfe||Washington, D.C., N.Y.C, Toronto||Criss co-headlined with Betsy Wolfe a Broadway-themed concert tour, accompanied by the National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Steven Reineke. Performances were held at The Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, and Roy Thomson Hall.|
|2016||The Little Mermaid in Concert||Los Angeles||Criss co-headlined the concert at the Hollywood Bowl, playing the part of "Prince Eric".|
|* Note: This is a selection of Criss' musical performances, not a complete list.|
StarKid Productions albums
|2011||Variety Magazine||Power of Youth Philanthropy||The Trevor Project||Won|||
|Dorian Awards||We're Wilde About You / Rising Star Award||Glee||Won|||
|Teen Choice Awards||Choice TV: Breakout Star||Won|||
|NewNowNext Awards||Brink of Fame: Actor||Won|||
|BroadwayWorld - Chicago Awards||Best New Work/New Adaptation||Starship||Won|||
|2012||BroadwayWorld - Chicago Awards||Best Special Theatrical Event||A Very Potter Senior Year||Won|||
|Broadway.com Award||Favorite Replacement||How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying||Won|||
|Screen Actors Guild Award||Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series||Glee||Nominated|||
|2013||Dorian Award||TV Musical Performance of the Year||Nominated|||
|Screen Actors Guild Award||Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series||Nominated|||
|Shorty Awards||Best Producers of Short Content on Social Media||Himself||Nominated|||
|People's Choice Awards||Favorite Comedic TV Actor||Glee||Nominated|||
|Favorite TV Bromance (with Chord Overstreet)||Nominated|
|Favorite On-Screen Chemistry (with Chris Colfer)||Nominated|
|2015||Broadway.com Award||Favorite Replacement||Hedwig and the Angry Inch||Won|||
|Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics||"This Time"- Glee||Nominated|||
|Hollywood Music in Media Awards||Song - TV Show/Digital Series||Won|||
|Giffoni Film Festival||Experience Award||Overall work||Won|||
|2017||Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle||Lead Performance||Hedwig and the Angry Inch||Nominated|
|2018||MTV Movie & TV Awards||Best Performance in a Show||The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story||Nominated|
|Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie||Won|
|TCA Awards||Individual Achievement in Drama||Nominated|
|2019||Golden Globe Awards||Best Actor - Miniseries or Television Film||Won|
|Screen Actors Guild Awards||Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie||Won|||