He may be the most recent addition on the show, but the 23-year-old has already made his mark, shattering download records with his cover of Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream." Could this be Kurt Hummel's long-awaited love interest? Or just another rapping weenie?
Details: You play Blaine, who was introduced on Glee last week, but you originally auditioned for the role of Finn.
Darren Criss: Yeah, that was a complete coincidence. It was about two and a half years ago. I was just in Los Angeles to see friends, and my manager said, "You can sing; why don't you go out for this thing called Glee?" I'll never forget reading the pilot. It was totally different—Sue Sylvester wasn't a character, Kurt wasn't a character—but I did the math. This was at the height of American Idol, and it was Ryan Murphy, who had already done extremely well with Nip/Tuck. I was like, "This is going to be awesome."
Details: Did you have any first-day jitters on-set?
Darren Criss: I was a little nervous at first because I knew nothing about my character. I auditioned for the part on a Monday, and they called to tell me I got it on Friday. I didn't even know the character's name—it was Blair in all the audition materials. I kept asking, "Shouldn't I talk to Ryan?" A lot of my information about Glee came from fansites and blogs, not straight from the source. [laughs]
Details: Blaine will share a lot of screen time with Kurt, the other gay character. Kurt's story line goes into a lot of emotional territory—are you ready to go there?
Darren Criss: Absolutely, if the story calls for it. As an actor, you selfishly want to flex as many different acting muscles as possible, but I'm not going to look for emotional scenes just so I can look cool. A lot of my friends—especially ones who grew up with a lot of the same issues as gay teenagers—call me brave for playing this character. I don't think I'm being brave. I just think I'm lucky to play a guy who's way cooler than myself.
Details: Your cover of Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream" is iTunes' highest-selling first-week Glee track of all time. How did that happen?
Darren Criss: I think the fan base from my Internet days are completely to thank for that. A Very Potter Musical, a play I starred in and helped write music for, got millions of views way before Glee. The young fans, who are more connected to the Internet than even people my age will ever be, are amazing at spreading the word. I really think that Malcolm Gladwell idea—The Tipping Point—totally applies to what's happening to me right now.
Details: What has your interaction with Matthew Morrison been like?
Darren Criss: We both have musical-theater backgrounds, so it's fun to just shoot the poop—wait, this is Details, so I can say it—shoot the shit with him about Broadway stuff. I heard he's been hitting the gym pretty hard, too, although I can't attest to that. I haven't walked into his trailer and said, "Hey, guy, looking good!" I'm sure he wouldn't appreciate that. But the man can sing, the man can dance, and he's a very charming dude.
Details: Would you be up for rapping like him, too?
Darren Criss: Gimme a shot, coach! I can spit some game, for sure. Although it'd be funny to see a weenie with slicked-back hair rapping in a blazer.
—Interview by Stephan Lee