Actor Darren Criss has opened up about the ensuring legacy of his character Blaine on the popular musical sitcom Glee. The actor now says that the part–which helped rocket him to stardom–has been a double-edged sword.
Criss, now 34, performed on Glee from 2010 to 2015. His character broke new ground on television for his same-sex relationship with fellow high schooler Kurt, played by Chris Colfer. Criss also went on to win an Emmy for his performance as gay spree killer Andrew Cunanan in American Crime Story: Versace.
For Criss, however, who is straight in real life, hitting it big with two gay characters has wrought both praise and headaches. In particular, some younger viewers have attacked him for playing gay characters as a straight actor.
“Let’s just say, I’ve been sh*t on,” Criss told The Independent. “No matter what I say, I’m going to get into the same mess that I’ve always gotten in, which is me being what I believe is very fair and diplomatic, but nobody’s interested in that, because compassion is not currently in vogue. So I don’t know what to say. I’m making it sound like I have some controversial thing to say, which I don’t. What I say is very normal.”
Related: Expect to see a lot more of Darren Criss naked in the future
“There are so many performances that are either straight roles given by queer actors or queer roles that are done by straight actors that are so beloved, that we just don’t talk about those,” he added. “But if they’re done poorly, we get up in arms and we blame it on the fact that this person isn’t queer, this person isn’t straight, as opposed to maybe they just weren’t the right person for the job?”
Still, Criss also concedes that he’s also received heaps of praise for his portrayal of gay characters, especially from queer viewers.
“I have a lot of queer folks that come up to me, particularly older folks, that will say how much that relationship meant to them,” he added. “They’ll say, ‘When I was growing up, I didn’t really ever get to see that on TV’… and then I always remind them, neither did I… As a cis straight man, I also didn’t see that. And while I have not grown up as a queer person, I’m a lifetime subscriber, man. I’m a season ticket holder to the queer experience. I grew up in San Francisco in the 90s; these are people that raised my cultural awareness… [so] also it means a lot to me.”
In the past, Criss, while not objecting to straight actors playing queer roles, has also encouraged casting directors to hire queer actors as well. During his speech for his Emmy win for American Crime Story: Versace, Criss encouraged Hollywood to cast queer actors. He subsequently also said he will no longer accept gay roles.
I tend to look at the glass as half full. Like it’s a good thing for those gay roles. Otherwise you wouldn’t have an acting career to begin with.
Agree, his range is very limited, he should be grateful.
Acting is acting. He’s honoring gay men with his positive portrayals.
“I’ve been s**t on” for playing gay roles.” Ewww… scat.
I was afraid that was where this story was going.
Darren has a wonderful new Christmas album out, including a duet with Adam Lambert on “The Man with the Bag” and a new song, “Christmas Dance,” that instantly became one of my favorites. Can we just cast him in everything?
He’s a great actor and I honestly can’t imagine anyone else playing either of the two gay roles he’s played on television. Who the hell gay or straight hasn’t starred in Hedwig and the Angry Inch? Good actors should get great parts. I hope more queer actors get more parts. Just more parts period.
The assasination of Gianni Versace was by far the best thing Ryan Murphy has ever done and Darren did a tremendous job as Andrew. He is an ally to the gay community and has portrayed us with sensitivity and respect. I have no trouble with straight men playing gay as long as gay men are considered for gay and straight roles. The best actor for the character. No one gay or straight could have portrayed Aileen Wornos as well as Charlene Theron.
This WOKE thing is full of shit. An actor is playing someone they are not. That is why it is called acting. That is why there are documentaries. As a gay man myself this WOKE BS is exactly that. Criss was Fantastic in the role of Andrew Cunanan. LBGTQRSTUV is RIDICULOUS. As a gay man I identify as a GAY MAN only. Not Lesbian, Trans, Bi, or any other freaks they want to include.
Gosh, aren’t you just a piece of work – we are all so glad that you identify as ONLY a gay man and nothing else, literally, nothing else. Just FYI – “woke” was officially added into the Oxford English Dictionary as an adjective in June 2017 and defines it as ‘originally: well-informed, up-to-date. Now chiefly: alert to racial or social discrimination and injustice’.” The Urban Dictionary, which published its original definition two years prior to the official dictionary, defines it as “being woke means being aware… knowing what’s going on in the community (related to racism and social injustice).” In other words, it means to be awake to sensitive social issues, such as racism. So, just to be clear, you obviously care very little about others around you, including all of those who have had to struggle to make their way in this world in spite of trolls like you. Have another hit of poppers and keep dancing, dude.
Your opinion loses all weight as soon as you pretend that solidarity requires you to identify as a lesbian.
You sound like a bigot who makes an exception only for his own orientation.
Leonard probably could have worded his post more diplomatically but there is something to what (I think) he’s saying.
Acting is acting, and who someone sleeps with off-screen is something we tend to get way too invested in. If Criss were profiting off portraying gay characters while not actually supporting the community, that’s one thing but it’s not what he has done.
I want everyone to have more equal opportunities to be who they are. That said, not everyone in the QUILTBAG is really in the same community. I’m gay and I like to see other gay people portrayed in what I watch. I’m not terribly interested in watching many programs that feature only women though, no matter whether they are in M/F relationships or F/F relationships. That’s just a personal preference of mine. When I first read Leonard’s comment, I took it to mean that.
Glad to see a proud and informed GAY MAN – not a sheep hiding behind a string of letters stitched together by someone else.
Darren Criss is so appealing as an actor, it’s a joy to see him in anything. Oh, yes. ACTOR is the operative word here! The gay community better be careful with this over response. If it continues, gay men will be disallowed from playing straight men and we’ll be back in the dark ages again. I’m appalled that the brilliant Eddie Redmayne had to say that it was a mistake for him to do “Danish Girl.” It was a beautiful, sensitive performance. We’re fortunate that such a film was even made. I feel like there are people who know nothing about acting or the difficulty of getting a movie on complaining. Cheer down!
Criss is a brilliant actor whether playing gay or straight roles!! His work speaks for itself.
Can’t stand the smarmy POS.
I tend to agree with you. When he acts it looks phony to me. But that’s just my opinion.
Paris in Santiago
Darren & his wife are lovely people and put themselves on the line as allies. I truly wish them peace, good health & luck. They deserve it. They walk the walk, talk the talk.
A mediocre actor. One has got to wonder who keeps promoting him.
Seems like it’s his good work that’s doing the promoting.
Sounds like a good guy to me.
Wait a minute…..he’s not gay? Even if I had never seen him in either of the roles mentioned, I would have waged a bet he was/is gay. He says he won’t be a role cast as a gay character anymore…….this just in, he’s not a major star or talented actor. He will surely realize sooner than later to take the best he is offered even if it’s a “gay role” (eww, the shame of it all…..gimme a break)
Ryan Murphy was director/creator of both of those “gay roles” (and an out gay man), since Murphy is the only one to hire him for a major role, one would assume Miss Priss Criss is not appreciative or thankful. I know several gay/bi actors that would gladly “be shit on” (eww) for those roles.
We’re supposed to be standing up for equality, not vengeance. Decades upon decades fighting against bigots; we lose this battle if we become like the enemy.
I support him 100% playing whatever characters he wishes to play. It’s called acting, not real life.
Since acting is acting tell me why there is barely any gay actor playing major role on tv and movies. Clearly there is a bias against casting gay actor period and the fact straight actor get to play gay (people that are actively being denied/overlooked by casting agents) is kind of infuriating.
I’ve always assumed he was gay and he married his beard.
I think you assumed right.
I think we have an Emperor’s New Clothes situation happening here.
The way I look at it, if an actor is cast in a role, and they can play the role as written, whether the role is of a gay or straight person, and the actor isn’t the same type of person, but he can play one convincingly, then he should get to play that role.
Too often, the role played by an actor or actress is thought to be the actual personality of that person that everyone seems to come unglued when they discover that the actor/actress ISN’T actually how they portray their role. If they can portray the person, it shouldn’t matter what their actual ‘alignment’ is, and everyone needs to just STFU.
I believe Criss and don’t doubt there are people harshing because he’s not gay but plays gay roles. If he’s the best actor for the role, I don’t have an issue with it, and I’m glad he’s encouraging Hollywood to actually hire some out gay actors as well. He’s a stalwart gay ally and sounds like a decent person over all.
On a different note, Queerty, does the asterisk in “s**t” on stand in for a “h” and an “a”?
Because the past tense of the verb “to sh1t” is “[email protected].” Like sit –> sat. For whatever reason that bit of knowledge has gotten lost in the shuffle.
Criss is fine and seems like an ally so I’m not going to go for the throat but I doubt that he’s received any more abuse than other people who’ve played gay or who have, in some way, offended an overly sensitive, self-righteous audience. He had thousands of girls and young gay men clawing their way through the crowd to get to him in his Glee days so a few, loud and obnoxious twits should be both expected and dismissed. They come with the show biz game. No one is going to please everyone and he chose to be in the public eye, which comes with more scrutiny of him and access to him.
And…people kind of suck so there’s that as well.
He must be a good actor if people are actually believing he’s straight.
Wow…think this is the most comments I’ve seen on a post here in QUITE some time! …and some of the most divisive comments, at that!
Personally, I loved his portrayals of gay men over the years! It’s a real shame that he’s been criticized for doing them–especially from members of our community! He made a positive impact on our culture in movies and television! Who cares who he actually sleeps with at night?!?! (…or in bushes, or alleyways, or nightclubs, or…or…or…) I think it’s amazing that we have straight allies willing to take on these tough roles and suffer all the criticism that we get for just being ourselves. As the people he’s trying to be an ally for, we SHOULD be grateful to him, not giving him crap because he’s not really gay (spoiler alert: almost none of your favorite gay porn stars are either…just sayin…)
We can’t complain that gay actors aren’t able to get any work in Hollywood in straight roles and then turn around and say that straight actors shouldn’t be able to play gay characters. Wanna know the most progressive and “woke” thing? Just let the actor who’s able to do the best job portraying the character get the role. Be honest: any gay man who says he’s pissed off that Darren Criss is straight is just mad because his fantasy hookup is ruined. (Pro-tip: even IF he was gay, you didn’t have a shot with him anyway…just sayin…)
Now lets all have a group hug and go back to our Grindr prowling.
Well gay actor rarely get casted in anything period and Darren clearly didn’t played those gay role for eepresentation or allyship ,he did it to advance his own carrier. And maybe if there were equal opportunity for gay actors, then nobody would complain about straight actor playing gay role.
I always thought he got the Glee part because of his singing/dancing not acting talent — I always liked Chris Colfer better, and then I thought he got the Cunanan role because he was such a lookalike, and it was made for TV. So, I’d give him a good on acting and an excellent on song and dance.
Overall, I think the pressure to cast gay people in gay roles is appropriate and timely. Things change so slowly, if at all, if one just sits back and waits for the people in power to exhibit some noblesse oblige.
LEAVE DARREN ALONE! And Brittny too!
Why is this still being talked about?
I’m a fan of hiring the best actor for the part.
Huge fan. Met him at a party once and he could not have been nicer. He chatted with me and my gay friend for about 30 minutes and seemed very genuine.
He’s been “sh*t on” but he got the part. Unlike all of the LGBTQ actors for the last hundred years who were never given roles in Hollywood or even allowed to audition if it was known they weren’t straight.
Every interview you saw with Criss, just like this one had somewhere in it “He is straight”.
I’m so sick of this shit. Yes a hundred years of lets make sure everyone knows I’m straight but cool with the queers. Don’t want anyone to make the mistake of thinking I’m one of them. Talks about his latest girlfreind.
As others have said. He’s made his career out of the playing queer and now it’s boo hoo. I’ve been type case as one of them!! Well, dummy. No one made you take the roles.
As far as talent goes he got the roles based on dancing and looking the mirror image as Cunanan.
His argument would carry more weight if he bitched more about Asian Americans not getting enough roles.
@ChrisK, I think he’s not complaining about being typecast, he’s talking about Gen Z folks criticizing him for taking gay roles. For his part, the article does say he’s encouraged casting directors to hire out LGBTQ actors, so he’s not just taking the roles and then complaining, he’s actually saying Hire out LGBTQ actors too.
Queerbaiting has been his whole career, the entire strategy, non-stop. Even his Christmas album has lyrics about listening to Mariah, and pictures in drag. He can’t not. It’s his only move, and it pays the bills.
Paris in Santiago
The awful joke about hollywood is true. There are big budget movie actors who are quietly or secretly bi / gay, but are hetero appearing for the sake of millions & billions in ticket sales. Because of my line of work, I know who they are.
So people saying awful things or speculating about Darren Criss are just horrible people. He is true & honest. He & his wife are happily married.
Human beings are the worst. No wonder we need pets like dogs or cats. Pets are mean.
At least Miss Pretentious doesn’t have to worry about taking any icky gay roles now. Seriously doubt he’s going to be offered anything now after shitting on his former opportunities like that.
So who are the gay ones? Spill the beans!
Paris in Santiago
Ugh, I meant pets are meaningful companions.
Darren Criss auditioned around age 20 or 21? Okay. Mark Indelicato was closeted when he auditioned for his role on Ugly Betty. I think we need to offer some leeway when the actors are young and new. I certainly don’t want a room full of 60-yr. old men asking children or 20-yr. olds about their sexual orientation.
Jesus Christ, there is nothing more tedious than a bunch of bitter queens hopping on a comments section to bitch about someone who’s actually achieved something.
Comments are closed.