Darren Criss is an American actor, singer, and songwriter best known for his award-winning roles in Glee and The Assassination of Gianni Versace.
Criss was born in San Francisco, California, where he took an interest in music at age five. Criss studied the violin for fifteen years, and also taught himself how to play the guitar, piano, mandolin, harmonica, and drums. In high school he was concertmaster in the orchestra, and was voted “most likely to win a Grammy” by his classmates. Criss also studied theater performance throughout his teenage years at the American Conservatory Theater, where he starred in The Music Man and Fiddler on the Roof. His professional stage debut was at age ten, as Cesario in 42nd Street Moon’s production of Fanny (1997).
After high school, Criss moved on to the University of Michigan, where he studied Theater Performance, as well as acted in and direction various productions such as Pride and Prejudice, The Cripple of Inishmaan, and A Few Good Men. After graduation, Criss co-founded StarKid Productions, a musical theater company which featured him as the lead role and writer in the musical comedies, A Very Potter Musical, A Very Potter Sequel, and A Very Potter Senior Year.
In 2010, Criss was cast as Blaine Anderson in Fox’s hit show, Glee. His first number, a cover of “Teenage Dream,” became Glee’s fastest-selling single, reached number eight on the Billboard Top 100, and was certified gold in the U.S. Criss was also nominated for an Emmy in 2015 for writing “This Time” for Glee’s finale episode. Criss made his Broadway debut in How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying in 2012, replacing Daniel Radcliffe as J. Pierrepont Finch. He also took on the dynamic lead role of Hedwig in the rock musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch at the Belasco Theater, going on to headline the national tour of the show in San Francisco and Los Angeles.
In 2017, Criss formed the indie pop band Computer Games with his brother Chuck, and released their debut album, Lost Boys Life, to great success with the number two single “Every Single Night.” Later that year, Criss released the solo EP Homework, which debuted at number one on Billboard’s Heatseekers Chart.
Criss starred in Ryan Murphy’s second installment of American Crime Story, The Assassination of Gianni Versace, in 2018. His portrayer of killer Andrew Cunanan was widely praised and led to an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie as well as a Golden Globe for Best Actor — Miniseries, or Television Film.
Criss performs regularly across the country and the world, and is often booked for private parties and corporate entertainment events.