Thanks to Glee, Darren Criss was already a member of Ryan Murphy's circles before being cast in American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace. But the way Criss tells the story, a certain kiss also had a part in his landing the ACS role.
In the second installment of Ryan Murphy's American Crime Story series, Criss will play Andrew Cunanan, the serial killer responsible for Gianni Versace's death. His costars include Penelope Cruz, who's playing Donatella Versace, and Edgar Ramirez, who's playing Gianni Versace. The series will also star New Girl's Max Greenfield in a role that hasn't been revealed yet. (Greenfield, too, is already a member of the Ryan Murphy universe, having starred in American Horror Story: Hotel in 2015.)
So what does a liplock have to do the role? It all has to do with his theater performance in Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Unbeknownst to Criss, ACS executive producer Brad Simpson went to one of his performance at Murphy's request.
"Once every night, [Criss] jumps into somebody's lap and makes out with them," Simpson explained to Entertainment Weekly. "In the middle of the show, he jumps in the audience and rips my glasses off and makes out with me. It was very charming and a very Cunanan thing to do, to be a little devilish. Cunanan charmed people and then turned them off. We're talking about a serial killer people liked."
Of course, Criss had no idea who the audience member was at the time — but the experience helped Simpson visualize how the actor could portray Cunanan.
Criss also told EW that he doesn't think of playing Cunanan as a more challenging role than playing Blaine on Glee.
"I don't like quantifying one [role is] harder or easier or funner or more significant than other characters," he told the magazine. "Blaine, by comparison, could be put into a cartoonish box. The very patter of Glee exists in a different world than the one we're dealing with. But all the same, I treat that silly hairdo and the clothes he wore and the way that he spoke and the things he believed in with the same currency that I treat someone like Andrew, who was a real person and had real friends and family."
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