Words: Alastair James; pictures: Wiki
Glee actor, Darren Criss, says he’s been “s*** on” for discussing who should play queer roles in the past, but also says he’s turned down queer roles that have been offered to him.
Criss made his name as Blaine Anderson on the musical-comedy series before going on to take an award-winning turn as Andrew Cunanan in The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.
He says the debate over who should play queer roles has become “a really tough one”.
“I’ve been s*** on”
Sitting down with The Independent for an interview in which he is clearly wary of what he says, Darren says: “I’ve been s*** on” for approaching the debate about queer roles.
“No matter what I say, I’m going to get into the same mess that I’ve always gotten in, which is me being what I believe is very fair and diplomatic, but nobody’s interested in that, because compassion is not currently in vogue,” he continues.
Concerned that it sounds like he has “some controversial thing to say” (which he says he doesn’t) he clarifies that “What I say is very normal.”
When talking about playing Andrew Cunanan in American Crime Story Darren goes further to say that as an actor, he wants to know if he’s adding value to it, as he thinks any actor would.
He argues there many examples of straight actors playing gay roles and vice versa that are beloved, and that it’s when performances are bad that people are critical and focus on an actor’s sexuality “as opposed to maybe they just weren’t the right person for the job?”
The Glee star reveals he’s also turned down “plenty of queer roles” after reading scripts and thinking, “I, as a consumer, would rather see a queer man do this role.”
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Darren also says he was misquoted when he apparently said he wouldn’t play another queer role and that what he actually said (which he doesn’t reveal) was diluted for the sake of headlines.
At the time he was quoted as saying: “I want to make sure I won’t be another straight boy taking a gay man’s role. The reason I say that is because getting to play those characters is inherently a wonderful dramatic experience. It has made for very, very compelling and interesting people.”
On playing a key role in Glee‘s primary LGBTQ storyline – his character’s (at times rocky) relationship with Chris Colfer’s Kurt Hummel on the hit TV show he says members of the queer community have let him know how significant it was to see queer representation so prominently displayed.
“I have a lot of queer folks that come up to me, particularly older folks, that will say how much that relationship meant to them. They’ll say, ‘When I was growing up, I didn’t really ever get to see that on TV’… and then I always remind them, neither did I…
“As a cis straight man, I also didn’t see that.”