Darren Criss: “I’ve been s**t on” for playing gay roles

Actor Darren Criss has opened up about the ensuring legacy of his character Blaine on the popular musical sitcom Glee. The actor now says that the part–which helped rocket him to stardom–has been a double-edged sword.

Criss, now 34, performed on Glee from 2010 to 2015. His character broke new ground on television for his same-sex relationship with fellow high schooler Kurt, played by Chris Colfer. Criss also went on to win an Emmy for his performance as gay spree killer Andrew Cunanan in American Crime Story: Versace.

For Criss, however, who is straight in real life, hitting it big with two gay characters has wrought both praise and headaches. In particular, some younger viewers have attacked him for playing gay characters as a straight actor.

“Let’s just say, I’ve been sh*t on,” Criss told The Independent“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. So I don’t know what to say. I’m making it sound like I have some controversial thing to say, which I don’t. What I say is very normal.”

“There are so many performances that are either straight roles given by queer actors or queer roles that are done by straight actors that are so beloved, that we just don’t talk about those,” he added. “But if they’re done poorly, we get up in arms and we blame it on the fact that this person isn’t queer, this person isn’t straight, as opposed to maybe they just weren’t the right person for the job?”

Still, Criss also concedes that he’s also received heaps of praise for his portrayal of gay characters, especially from queer viewers.

“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,” he added. “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. And while I have not grown up as a queer person, I’m a lifetime subscriber, man. I’m a season ticket holder to the queer experience. I grew up in San Francisco in the 90s; these are people that raised my cultural awareness… [so] also it means a lot to me.”

In the past, Criss, while not objecting to straight actors playing queer roles, has also encouraged casting directors to hire queer actors as well. During his speech for his Emmy win for American Crime Story: Versace, Criss encouraged Hollywood to cast queer actors. He subsequently also said he will no longer accept gay roles.

Via Queerty

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