Darren Everett Criss is an American actor, singer-songwriter, musician, composer, internet personality, and one of the founding members of Team StarKid, a theater production company. He played Harry Potter in the musicals A Very Potter Musical, A Very Potter Musical, and A Very Potter Senior Year, and portrayed Blaine Anderson, an openly gay student, in the TV series Glee, which ended in 2015. In April 2015, Darren played Hedwig in the Broadway musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Unable to participate in Starship, he wrote the music and lyrics for it when he was in Los Angeles filming Glee.
Early life and educationEdit
Criss was born in San Francisco. His mother, a native of Cebu in the Philippines, is of Chinese, Spanish, and Filipino descent, and his father has Irish ancestry. He attended Stuart Hall for Boys and later graduated from Saint Ignatius College Preparatory. In 2009, Criss obtained a BFA in Performance from the University of Michigan.
Criss is a classically trained violinist who began playing at the age of five. He later taught himself guitar, piano, cello, mandolin, harmonica and drums. He played drums in a band with his brother, Chuck, until Chuck moved to New York City to develop his music career (and subsequently joined the indie rock group Freelance Whales).
Criss made his professional stage debut at the age of ten, in 42nd Street Moon's 1997 production of Fanny in the role of Cesario. The next year, Criss played Mauro in the same company's production of the Richard Rodgers and Stephen Sondheim musical Do I Hear a Waltz?, followed by Babes in Arms in 1999, in which he played Beauregard Calhoun.
Criss has part ownership of Team StarKid, a theater production company that was formed by students at the University of Michigan. His roles with Team StarKid include "Harry Potter" in the YouTube viral musicals A Very Potter Musical and A Very Potter Sequel. Both productions are musical-comedies based on the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling.
On November 9, 2010, Criss joined the cast of Glee in the episode "Never Been Kissed" as Blaine Anderson, a gay student at rival school Dalton Academy and lead singer of Dalton's Glee club, The Warblers. The series ended after 6 seasons in February 2015.
Criss most recently starred as Andrew Cunanan in The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, the second season of FX's crime anthology series. The season premiered on January 17, 2018. Criss won the Emmy award for Lead Actor in a Limited Series for his role as the serial killer who targeted famed fashion designer Gianni Versace.
Criss in November 2010 Criss started out as the host of That Media Show, a San Francisco production which discussed Hollywood, filmmaking and visual effects.
Criss played the role of "Toby Phillips" in the web series Little White Lie (2007), produced by Team StarKid.
Criss currently voices the character of "Leopold Bonar" from the Funny or Die web series Life of Leopold.
Before starting on Glee, Darren sang his own renditions of some Disney songs at a Maggiano's restaurant every Thursday. On his YouTube channel called "Iclemyer," he uploaded videos of him singing "Part Of Your Word," "Belle," "Duck Tales," "I'll Make A Man Out Of You," "Reflection," and "The Muse."
Criss is credited as one of the primary songwriters and composers, along with A.J. Holmes and Carlos Valdes, for Team StarKid musical productions. He has contributed songs to A Very Potter Musical (2009), Me and My Dick (2009), and the web-series Little White Lie (2007), and composed all the songs and music for A Very Potter Sequel (2010), its companion album A Very StarKid Album(2010), and Starship (2011). The Starshipalbum was released on April 29, 2011. It reached No.1 on Billboard Top Cast Album Chart, No.2 on iTunes Sou ndtrack Chart, No.4 on iTunes Albums Chart, and No.134 on Billboard 200 Chart.
Criss released a self-produced EP called Human on iTunes in the summer of 2010. It debuted at No. 30 on Billboard's Top Heatseekers Albums and has reached the iTunes Top 20 Alternative charts. He is currently signed with Sony Music Entertainment.
Criss frequently collaborates and performs with fellow Michigan alum, New York-based singer/songwriter Charlene Kaye. He sings on her songs "Skin and Bones" and "Dress and Tie," and is featured in her music videos for "Skin and Bones," "Dress and Tie," and "Magnolia Wine."
Criss has contributed to the Glee soundtrack as lead singer of the "Warblers," an all-male a capella singing group (all backing vocals and arrangements done by Tufts University's Beelzebubs). His first song on Glee, "Teenage Dream," hit No.1 on the Billboard charts, selling 214,000 singles in its first week and outselling the original in its first week of digital sales. It was the first time a Glee track had reached the No.1 spot, and is the fastest-selling Glee track to date. He followed with other songs in later episodes: "Hey, Soul Sister," "Baby, It's Cold Outside," "Bills, Bills, Bills," "When I Get You Alone," "Silly Love Songs," "Animal," "Candles," "Misery," "Somewhere Only We Know," and "Raise Your Glass;" most of which have reached the top ten on iTunes. The album Glee: The Music Presents the Warblers, released on April 19, 2011, reached No.2 on iTunes and the Billboard 200 Charts.