Now Playing

He Only Plays Gay on TV

Glee’s Darren Criss expands his repertoire.

Styled by Miguel lopez and Gabriel Yanez of Sui Generis

Glee’s Darren Criss plays it straight opposite Kristen Wiig in Girl Most Likely.

See exclusive outtakes from our photo shoot on Tumblr 

Not that he’s known many failures. After graduating from St. Ignatius College Prep, where his class named him “most likely to win a Grammy,” Criss got his first taste of mass audience response in college when he and some friends wrote, produced, and acted in the nearly three-hour-long A Very Potter Musical. It was supposed to be a one-time performance—shoddily recorded, then slapped up on YouTube. But someone sent the link to a Harry Potter fan site, whose followers went bananas. Today, Act 1 alone has more than 10 million views and has inspired sequels and screenings at Potter conventions.

Serendipitous, then, that last year Criss took over for Daniel Radcliffe on Broadway in the lead role in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. During the transition, Criss was too embarrassed to bring up his viral video fame to the original Harry. “I wasn’t exactly in a rush to talk to him about it,” says Criss, his pressured speech suddenly slowing. “It’s embarrassing because I’m capable of better things.”

Shortly after the Potter musical, the producers of Glee called Criss to audition for a new character who would go on to be one half of the show’s reigning on-off couple. In his three seasons as Blaine, a popular gay teen with incredible self-esteem and a healthy relationship, Criss has heard it all, from scorn from the conservative likes of Glenn Beck to praise and outreach from LGBT groups such as GLAAD (which had Criss perform at this year’s awards ceremony in Los Angeles).

Which brings us to the bombshell of this story—Darren Criss is not gay. And this isn’t the first time that he has had to make that clear (he says that he also had to come out of the straight closet as a teen in A.C.T.’s Young Conservatory). “I’m the opposite from what people pin me as,” he says, referring to both his sexual preferences and his career choices. “I’ve kind of made it a habit where if you expect me to do something, I am usually immediately averse to that idea, and I try to do something else.”

Originally published in the July issue of San Francisco

Have feeedback? Email us at
Follow us on Twitter @sanfranmag
Follow Lauren Ladoceour on Twitter @LaurenLaDeDa