After joining Glee with a rousing performance of Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream" during the second season, Darren Criss instantly became one of the hit show's most recognizable cast members. Now a beloved series regular as the flamboyant Blaine, the 24-year-old is branching out (sort of) with a quick stint on Broadway this month in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Criss spoke about fending off moms and teen girls on the Glee tour, his upcoming turn opposite Kristen Wiig in the raunchy adult comedy Imogene, and why his parents grounded him before his prom.
DETAILS: Considering you play a gay guy on Glee, it's funny that Michele Bachmann wanted a photo with you at this year's Time 100 event.
Darren Criss: I never let my politics supersede my manners. She came up with her husband and they were sweet as can be. She was like, "My kids love the show. I don't watch it myself, but I'd love it if you could sign these postcards." It dawned on me that she didn't know what the hell Glee was.
DETAILS: Where did you find time in your Glee schedule to rehearse a Broadway show?
Darren Criss: I had my homework cut out for me. Glee is an interesting game. They'll say, "You're not shooting tomorrow. But you have to record two songs and you have dance rehearsal and you might have a fitting." When I wasn't doing all of that, I tried to have dance rehearsals for How to Succeed.
DETAILS: Daniel Radcliffe has been starring in this revival of How to Succeed. Has he given you any advice?
Darren Criss: I've never met Daniel. We've been ships passing in the night on several occasions. I'm sure we'll meet at some point and I'm sure he'll want to pass whatever baton he has. It's kind of a cool dynasty to follow—with Robert Morse and Matthew Broderick [also having played the role].
DETAILS: How will your Finch differ from Radcliffe's?
Darren Criss: Daniel's bow tie was blue. Mine will be purple. We'll each have our own calling card.
DETAILS: You have to wear a bow tie on Glee, too. What gives?
Darren Criss: I don't know, man. I've been pigeonholed.
DETAILS: But you'll be shifting gears to play cougar bait in Kristen Wiig's next movie, Imogene—right?
Darren Criss: It's fun to say that I'm the young love interest, but the film is more about how these two people find each other at this place in their life and strike up an unlikely relationship. It's not like I'm with Stifler's mom.
DETAILS: Yet moms love you. Ever get cornered by one backstage on the Glee tour?
Darren Criss: What's funny is that the moms always feel like they have to qualify everything. "I'm here for my daughter. Can I get a picture?" You don't have to apologize for liking Glee. My joke is, the fans are either 16 or 60. What I wouldn't give to have someone come back who wasn't a mom or a teenager.
DETAILS: You missed your senior prom when you were a teenager after your parents grounded you. What happened?
Darren Criss: I climbed out the window to go to a movie. When I got home, my mom was asleep in my bed. My parents were groovy, but they wanted me to learn that there were consequences and I couldn't talk my way out of everything.
DETAILS: That's it? A movie?
Darren Criss: I felt like I was doing a drug deal or something. The worst thing I'd ever done in my life was eat ice cream in the living room after eight.
DETAILS: Any R-rated stories from the tour?
Darren Criss: You won't hear those from me. Those are for my own private Behind the Music in my head.
DETAILS: You were the fan favorite. Do the other cast members get jealous?
Darren Criss: I don't know about that. We're all in this together.
DETAILS: What's it like getting so much attention so early in your career?
Darren Criss: Hollywood is a strange, strange thing. I feel like I've been invited to a very exclusive ball and I'm just trying to make nice with everybody and hope that if they kick me out they'll at least give me a ride home.
DETAILS: Has there been a most surreal moment during your meteoric rise?
Darren Criss: It was at Prince Azim of Brunei's birthday party in the middle of the English countryside. He's a fan of Glee. I never thought I would meet Mariah Carey, but I really never thought I'd be introduced to her by Whitney Houston. She's like, "Hey, baby, this is Mariah." I'm like, "I know. I'm Darren. I don't know what I'm doing here."