When Darren Criss settles into our Alexa job interview at a stylish cafe in West LA, he’s pleasant and direct.
“I am an outspoken particular person in actual daily life, but in the media, I discover I’m pretty reserved,” he observes. “I’m asked inquiries about myself that I have not definitely experienced to imagine about. That is a definitely bizarre occupational hazard. It would be like if you asked your dental hygienist, ‘Do you imagine your vocation option stems from your desire in cleanliness as a kid?’”
Reading in between the strains: The actor-producer-songwriter du jour resists the audio chunk.
Criss, 33, could be the consummate showman, but in particular person — aside from a trace of chipped black nail polish and a pair of gold-rimmed aviators that nod to his love of costume — he appears a lot more cerebral theater nerd (a flag he flies proudly) than flamboyant hunk.
Ahead of lengthy, Criss is expounding on significant themes in a delightfully thespy method. Discussions department off, reverse course, then operate off on totally new paths.
“I like maintaining myself in equilibrium by getting regular remaining and appropriate turns,” he clarifies of his vocation. “The get together trick? You imagine I’m doing all this things spontaneously, but it’s not devoid of a sizeable attention to element and organizing. I really don’t freak out if it does not go as prepared, but no matter what it is, I will optimize it. Drop me off anywhere, and I will make [it] as brilliant as feasible.”
For a sizeable and impassioned enthusiast base, Criss is the guy who sang, danced and heartthrobbed his way through a starring role on “Glee.” He’d go on to grow to be an unsettlingly cheerful killer in 2018’s “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story,” a nuanced functionality that won him an Emmy and a Golden World.
In 2020, matters are getting even a lot more more.
The day of our job interview, he was traveling to NYC to start rehearsals for David Mamet’s “American Buffalo,” now set to start previews April fourteen at Circle in the Square Theatre (a delay following Broadway shuttered in excess of the coronavirus pandemic). He will play Bobby — one of a trio of hustlers trying to make it abundant — along with Laurence Fishburne and Sam Rockwell.
“I try to do a exhibit in New York each two to a few years,” states Criss (who’s beforehand starred in “How To Thrive in Business Without having Seriously Trying” and “Hedwig and the Offended Inch”). “It will be wonderful to be in New York doing one of the wonderful American plays with a wonderful American playwright.”
He’s also experimenting with new formats, particularly govt-manufacturing, composing tracks for and starring in the new satiric series “Royalties,” which will debut on the brief-kind video clip streaming system Quibi this spring.
In May, he’ll channel the golden age of cinema in “Hollywood,” the hotly predicted Ryan Murphy-helmed Netflix series, which Criss also govt-created. (Not to point out his work for Elsie Fest, a musical-theater competition he co-started 5 years back.)
If your head is spinning, which is all component of the approach.
“I love giving strangers an excuse to join,” he states. “I just take pleasure in quirky matters and quirky folks. And that comes from the thought of difficult people’s expectations. At the finish of the day, which is my most important driving pressure — that you can do a little something weird and have it be cool.”
Born in San Francisco, Criss realized early on that he required to adhere to an primary route. He taught himself piano, analyzed violin and, at the age of ten, made his expert theater debut.
“Had my moms and dads required me to be an actor, I would not have done it,” he displays. “But I realized I experienced a knack for it. I’m virtually a parrot: I like mimicry, songs, accents.”
His interest, he insists, is training his Japanese. A dream holiday vacation, he states, would be a sojourn at Middlebury College’s language immersion program. “It’s where by they send the CIA to learn Farsi. I would love it!”
When a scholar at the College of Michigan, Criss attained fame with his contribution to the YouTube cult strike “A Extremely Potter Musical”, which led to the co-founding of the musical-comedy sensation StarKid.
“At the time, studio execs didn’t comprehend the energy of social media. In my early 20s, I was this Net pressure with my close friends, but heading to play piano at [a bar] twice a 7 days. I was living a double daily life, with Billboard-charting albums, and nonetheless, how could you demonstrate this to a casting director? They were being like, ‘You make Net videos?’ It was absurd to them. No one [at the time] realized how to monetize that.”
During his mainstream breakout as the chiseled Blaine Anderson — who famously coated “Teenage Dream” on “Glee” — Criss gained what he describes as a “master’s in putting songs and the camera collectively,” an encounter that has served him effectively in both of those “Hollywood” and his style-defying Quibi exhibit, where by he’ll play a songwriter aside significant-title musician guest stars.
When Criss has performed numerous large-profile gay characters in his vocation, he states he’ll no extended settle for these kinds of pieces, telling Bustle in late 2018: “I want to make confident I won’t be an additional straight boy getting a gay man’s role.”
In February 2019 he married his girlfriend — writer-producer-musician Mia Swier — in New Orleans. The encounter can only be explained as an immersive extravaganza.
Their initial “dance” was a rendition of “The Ballroom Blitz” by British rock brand Sweet, with Criss on guitar and Mia on bass. They were being later serenaded by close friends Lea Michele and John Stamos.
There were being umpteen costume alterations (through the evening’s silent disco, a Vera Wang robe and Armani accommodate were being traded for matching sequin T-shirts). Despite the fact that Vogue coated the festivities, Criss states significantly remains underneath wraps.
“I want to exhibit folks all the matters that definitely go on [in my daily life], but I’m also tranquil about it,” he displays. “The marriage ceremony is a excellent case in point. I bear in mind pondering,’I want all people in the world could see this, it’s the coolest issue I’ve at any time pulled off.’ When I set myself into a little something, I give it anything I’ve received. That was a significant illustration of who I am and who my spouse is and what we do.
It is non-conventional, out-of-the-box pondering and that also led Criss and his spouse to open up the Hollywood piano bar Tramp Stamp Granny’s, in 2018. Mia (whose family members started The Mercury Lounge and Bowery Ballroom in NYC) normally takes the guide on the project, while Criss states he even now occasionally tickles the ivories there, a throwback to his leaner years operating piano bars.
If you request nicely, he could even sing.
Crew Credits: Vogue Editor: Serena French Stylist: Anahita Moussavian Vogue Assistants: Nicole Zane and Haley Wells Grooming: Jessica Ortiz at Forward Artists applying Shiseido Tailoring: Amber Doyle
Photographed at Pricey Irving, 55 Irving Put