Do you love Glee, time travel, friendly dinosaurs, Harry Potter, adventurous space monkeys, Chris Colfer, and/or wood nymphs? If so, you’re in luck because this interview includes all of those things! Shelly recently got the chance to interview Darren Criss, the latest addition to the Glee cast. His character Blaine befriends Kurt and tries to help him cope with the struggle of being the only openly gay student at WMHS. And guess what: Darren’s just as nice in real life! He was kind enough to take some time to chat with Shelly about his thoughts on Glee‘s characters, how he got the role of Blaine, and more. We have a video with the audio, as well as a full transcription below. Enjoy!
So you’re a solo musician, you’ve acted on film and on stage, and now you’re going to be on Glee.
Yeah! That’s weird, right? Crazy.
It seems like you’ve had a lot of pretty awesome opportunities – do you have a favorite mode of performing?
I do. No matter what, I will always prefer a live performance. Whether it be a play or a musical, or playing music live. As long as it’s live, it’s the best because there’s sort of an immediacy to connection between an audience and a performer, whereas where you do film or television, you’re at the whim of so many different forces. You know, there’s a lot of editing and camera work involved, and also you have to wait quite a long time before you see any kind of reaction or connection to what it is that you did on camera. So, yeah, I always prefer doing things live. Between acting and as a musician, I’d say I probably prefer playing my own shows as a musician because that’s when you’re truly the master and commander of your own ship and it’s always fun just playing music with a band, really just actively putting your energy into something that you’ve created is so much fun. You know, where you don’t have a script not to necessarily hold you down, because if the script is good it doesn’t really matter. But yeah, so playing music is definitely my preferred mode of transport, as it were.
So when you’re not busy performing, what do you like to do in your spare time?
Oh, man, I don’t really have spare time. When I have spare time, I start freaking out because I get really antsy because I’m like, “Oh my God, there’s so many things I should be working on.” Man, oof, I gotta take care of the chores. You know, my laundry, I gotta go to the grocery store, I gotta clean the schmutz off my mirror that I’ve been trying to get rid of, clean my room – I don’t know, try and make my life somewhat less of a mess and a joke of chaos than it is, so that’s what I do in my spare time. But when I’m not working on Glee, certainly I’m spending all my time working on the next show that we’re doing with my company, Starkid Productions, and I’m finishing and developing the music for that.
I saw your audition videos on MySpace when Glee had its online casting call – is that how you got the part?
I don’t know. I mean, I made those just because a lot of friends were saying “oh, you should do it!” And I was like, “no, no, I don’t want to do that.” But I eventually got my head out of my butt and just did it because I figured it wouldn’t hurt. I’d gone out for Glee before. Interestingly enough, I had gone out for the role of Finn two and a half years ago. I wasn’t right for the part at all. I remember reading it and being like, this is not me. This is like, a football player, and I’m a small, hobbitish guy. But, you know, as an actor you go out for all kinds of things and whether or not it really lines up to who you are is completely separate. So Blaine was the first time I had gone out for it where I was like, this is actually somebody that I might be able to capture a little bit. It’s kind of closer to my disposition, I guess. I don’t know – I made those videos months before I went in for Blaine. I’m an actor out in Los Angeles, so, you know, you go out and audition quite often. I had gone out for Glee two or three times for other roles before, so this was just – well, not just another, because it’s always exciting when you go in for Glee because you’re always like, “oh my God, Glee.” And so when I went in for this one, I was nervous as anything else. My audition is not, in my mind, was not the audition that people see online. I mean, it’s not available on YouTube, but I sang two songs and I did the scene, and that was that. Ryan Murphy told me later that he saw my videos online from the MySpace thing. I’m assuming it’s because whenever the casting office sent him my tape of my actual audition, they probably just tacked those on there. I’m sure they found them and put them all together, so I don’t know if they’re connected or that’s the reason why I got the part. I don’t think it hurts, so I don’t really know if that was the deal closer. I have no idea. Or the deal sealer, I should say.
Which character from the show do you relate to the most?
That’s a good question. No one’s ever asked me that. Who do I relate to a lot? I mean, the cool thing about Glee is that every character is like a shard of everybody. If you say that you relate to one person, that kind of pigeon-holes you as a certain type because I feel like all the characters are big, not exaggerations, but really big, blown versions of a certain trait, whether it be kind of like the silly or the extravagant or the rambunctious. I think they’re all different colors of a whole pallet of a whole person, which is why I think Glee works so well. So I don’t really know, it’s tough. Some days I feel really silly, and kind of – I’m not saying he’s [Finn’s] a dumb character because he’s a funny character, but you know. He has a lot of things that I will relate to. I’ll say sometimes I’m a Finn, and sometimes I feel much more of a badass and I’ll feel like Mercedes. So I don’t know. Of course, I could never be as cool Mercedes; she’s quite, quite, quite cool and it’d take a lot of energy for me to be as cool as she is. But, I don’t – I’d say everybody. I have my days with different people. That’s a good question, I’ve never thought about that.
That’s a good answer, a little bit of everyone.
Yeah, a little bit of everybody. I mean, every person is so many different people that I’m never one to pigeon-hole anybody or anything. I think we’re an amalgamation of a thousand different things, so based on that idea, I’d relate to a little bit of everybody on different days of the week.
I don’t know if you can tell us, but if you can, what’s been your favorite scene or musical number to film so far?
I mean, I won’t tell you because I don’t want to give it away, what we’re doing. But they’re really fun, I can tell you that, and I really like the guys that I get to perform with a whole lot. And I’m not just saying that to be nice; I really enjoy spending time with them, they’re all really cool.
If you could write your own storyline for Blaine, no restrictions, what would you like to see your character do?
I would like to see him go back in time and hang out with dinosaurs, and then maybe befriend like a really cool triceratops. And of course, the dinosaurs in this universe would be friendly and they wouldn’t harm me, and they’d of course be able to speak English perfectly too. And also the character of Blaine would be incredibly proficient at wilderness skills and would be able to build a house similar to that of the Swiss Family Robinson. And magically there would be other humans there that I could befriend so I wouldn’t go crazy. And then I would just hang with them, and if and when I got bored with that by season four or five, I would take a time machine back to where we are now and then maybe go to space and, you know, have a monkey friend that I get to have intergalactic adventures with. Oh, and then I would discover the cure to cancer. And then I’d find a secret file somewhere in the Atlantic that would give me the power of flight.
That’d be a great plot twist.
Yeah, I think it would. People keep asking what’s going to happen with Blaine, and I wish I was serious when I said that answer. I mean, I’m serious about me wanting that to happen, but somehow I don’t think it’ll match up to the dimension that McKinley High exists in.
Yeah, somehow… So you’ve probably been doing a lot of press in light of your new role, but unlike most media outlets, GleeFan.com is a site purely run by Gleeks for Gleeks, so is there anything that you would like to say to your fans?
I hope that they enjoy Blaine and give him a shot, because I think a lot of people are really attached to the people who are on Glee right now, and some people get upset about, “why are they introducing new people? I just want to focus on the people I already know and love.” But I ask them to give Blaine a shot and a fair hand, and I hope that they enjoy what he stands for and what he does for the characters. I think he’s a really strong, cool guy and I think he’s going to be a great energy for the show and I hope people can enjoy that. It’s more of a request than it is a statement. So, yeah, that’s my humble request, I hope people can accept me into the Glee family.
I’m sure we’ll welcome you with open arms. So I’m going to go ahead and go to some fan questions from Twitter.
This one is from Yanti. Would you rather be a student at McKinley High or at Pigfarts?
I would much rather be a student at Pigfarts, easily, for obvious reasons, if not indicated by my response earlier about the plotline that I would like to pursue. Sorry, I’m never sure if people from Glee – when I get questions about Glee, they don’t really know about Starkid, or my other projects. I’m not sure if you do, or if you even understand the Pigfarts question.
Oh, yeah, I’m definitely a huge Harry Potter fan.
Oh, okay, cool! That makes things easy. A lot of interviewers don’t know about my – and I’m very careful, I never want to assume that people know what I’m talking about when I talk about Starkid or any of my projects.
This next one is from Jamie. Have any of your Glee cast mates seen A Very Potter Musical and have you talked to them about it?
Yes, actually! Somebody else just asked me about this for the first time and it took me by surprise. The first thing that Chris Colfer said to me was, he was like, “Hey, nice to meet you, man! I’m a big fan of A Very Potter Musical,” and I was like, “No way! You’re just saying that.” Because what I thought was he was just being very sweet and cordial. He probably found out I got the part and he probably Googled me and the first thing that came up was A Very Potter Musical. I would never assume in a million years that anybody who I ever meet will have actually or was familiar with the shows. If you’re just looking up someone online for like two seconds, you’re not going to watch the whole thing – it’s tough. So I just assumed that he was being sweet but just mentioning that and acknowledging it and so I thought that that was a nice enough gesture. And then later, upon hanging out with him more, I realized – he was like, “no, I like know the show.” He would quote it and he really knew the show more than anybody that I had ever met on set anywhere, because anytime I work in anything, nobody really knows about this double life I lead. They just assume that I’m just this actor on the show and that’s all I do. So that was the first time where somebody I was working with was really familiar with my other life, so that was really, really cool and we got to bond a little bit over that. We got to geek out over a lot of musical theatre things. So yeah, Chris has seen the show and he as said very kind things about it and it definitely meant the world to me when he did.
A lot of fans were wondering what it’s like to work with Chris Colfer. Jane Lynch once described him as, I think, an 80 year old woman in a teenage boy’s body. Would you agree with that, or how would you describe him yourself?
I mean, I’ve spent most of my time with Chris, but I’ve only been there for a short amount of time. I really like Chris a whole lot, we get to geek out a lot of musical theatre things and I think we enjoy a lot of the same things in general. I think both of us strive to be generally fabulous on a day-to-day basis, so that’s something I like to relate to Chris about. But I read that Jane said that about him. I don’t know – maybe it’s because – well, I wouldn’t say that he’s an 80 year old woman. I’d say he’s more of like – he’s like a magical creature, like a really fun, magical.. I can’t figure out what entity I want to say. Yeah, he’s like… man, I’m trying to think of a good creature that’s like, awesome. He’s like a really playful wood nymph. A wood nymph that’s caught in Chris Colfer’s body. That’s what I would say, because he loves – he’s a really positive, playful guy. So wood nymph does it better for me than 80 year old woman. But then again, that might just be a difference in sentiment between me and Jane Lynch, because arguably, they are the same thing. Maybe wood nymphs are, in fact, 80 year old women, maybe that’s…
You never know.
Yeah, I think when you turn 80 as a woman, you turn into a wood nymph. I wouldn’t know, I’ll have to ask my 80 year old women friends.
Alright. So this next one is from Lucile. Do you consider yourself an actor who can sing, or a singer who can act?
I would immediately say that I’m an actor who tries to sing a lot. I’ve always been an actor, I’ve been a performer since I was a kid. I’ve always taken it very seriously. I went to school for it, I did it in high school, and I got a degree in acting. Whether or not I have any talent as an actor is superfluous. I mean, I take from – I start anything with an actor’s perspective. I love to sing, and I happen to be a musician too, so absolutely, I’m definitely an actor who tries to sing.
This next one’s from Lindsay. What’s the most interesting experience you’ve had with a fan, and what’s the most touching?
There’s a lot of messages that we get in regards to people who have bonded over our shows, over A Very Potter Musical or any of our Starkid shows. Because they exist online, they’ve sort of yielded this online community between people all over the country, or all over the world, I guess. It streamlines the same kind of people with the same humor and sensibility at the same place. So I’ve heard a lot of people who have really become good friends over these things. They may have never actually met in person, or they then go on to meet each other and have come together because of this silly thing that me and my friends did. That is really touching to me, because it’s just something you would never expect when you put something out there like that. There are very, very moving incidents where a person will be going through a kind of personal or family tragedy and they’ll tell us about it. And when I say us, I mean me and my friends in the company of Starkid. We’ll read letters that have to do with using our songs or a scene or a joke as sort of a way to get through whatever struggle they’re going through, and that’s really, really, really touching and incredibly unexpected, but all the more moving for us. It’s really beautiful to know that the shenanigans you pull with your friends can reach a lot wider than what you initially planned on, so those are definitely some good examples of me being touched by fans.
Awesome. Kate and Meg were wondering if you’re going to be in Starkid’s next production, Starship?
Yeah, well I’m heavily involved in it. It’s sort of my brainchild. Glee will be keeping me pretty busy, so I don’t think I’ll be in it as an actor, but I’m certainly involved in the creative development of it, because Starship is kind of my baby that I’ve been fostering for the past couple of years and I brought it to the table for Starkid to work on. Now I’ve kind of given it over to the boys to develop more and more, so I’m in the process of finishing and writing the music for that show and that’ll be my involvement in the show. As much as I would love to be in it, Glee certainly takes a huge precedent in my schedule. But yeah, if you want to picture me as – like, my self will be embodied in the music, so yes, I will be in the next show, I just won’t be there in person.
Okay, that’s good to know. So you said you’re pretty busy with Glee, have you found out how many episodes you’re going to be on for?
Nope, I wish I knew, though, because then I wouldn’t have to be so on edge all the time about if they’re going to take me back. I hope they have me back. I enjoy being there, and I enjoy the character. As an audience of Glee, I’d like to see him come back.
This isn’t really a question, but based on just what we’ve heard and seen in interviews, your portrayal as a confident, gay high school character really means a lot to so many fans of the show, and I’ve been getting a lot of feedback about this, so I just wanted to extend a huge thank you to you for playing this role and we’re really excited to see it.
Oh, man, don’t thank me. It’s got nothing to do with me. It’s the writers and creators of Glee. Even when I saw the breakdown for the character when I went to the audition, I was like, “oh, cool! That’s really awesome that this guy is going to be on the show.” I just lucked out, I really lucked out. I always say that great parts aren’t created by actors, they’re written. It’s the people who write the show. I’ve been given an extreme privilege to be the vessel for this guy, but don’t thank me. Especially before it’s been on TV, maybe I blow it and I make it really dumb and no one’s going to like Blaine. So I don’t want you to have to put your foot in your mouth.
Oh, I wouldn’t worry about that.
Let’s hope so! I hope that it’s good. He’s written really well, and he’s a really cool guy, and there’s a lot of things about him that I certainly look up to, so I hope that other people can feel the same way.
Okay, cool. That’s it as far as the interview goes. Thanks so much!
Of course, my pleasure.
We want to thank Darren for taking the time to talk with us, and we hope you enjoyed the interview. If you’re a Harry Potter and/or musical fan, check out A Very Potter Musical! It’s a hilarious parody staring Darren as Harry Potter, and we at GleeFan.com have been huge fans of the musical for over a year now. Definitely give it a watch! :)