by Jim Halterman
A scruffy Darren Criss at Monday night’s Fox TCA party red carpet
Between film roles (Girl Most Likely), TV roles (Glee, Web Therapy & the documentary Six By Sondheim), activism and a successful concert tour of his own music, Darren Criss had one hell of a 2013.
TheBacklot grabbed some time with the adorable (and currently scruffy) performer Monday night at Fox’s Television Critics Association Party. We asked him what’s in store careerwise for the coming year, including what’s in the cards for his character on Glee now that Kurt and Blaine are engaged.
TheBacklot: I saw you do so much last year, how was 2013 for you?
Darren Criss: When New Year’s rolls around you say, ‘What did I do this year?’ And I did do a lot but I guess I didn’t do everything that I wanted to do. I have to step it up in 2014.
What can you tell me about these new episodes of Glee coming up?
Well, we have a lot of things coming up. The big talk of tonight– which is not a surprise but when Kevin Reilly [Fox Chairman of Entertainment] says it it becomes a thing– but I guess the show is moving to New York. The plot is. Not the production. But I’d love to shoot in New York.
For some of the characters it makes sense. For Blaine, he’s engaged to somebody who lives in New York and has made plans to go to New York. Artie (Kevin McHale) has applied to schools in Brooklyn, Sam (Chord Overstreet) is planning to be a model so there’s some obviousness to that. I hope we don’t completely leave Ohio because I want to see my friends – a very selfish agenda – but who knows? Presumably they do that after they graduate I don’t know if they’ll go right to college or if they’ll pursue working or living in delicious sin in New York.
In actuality, these characters are young and it’s not like the guys are going to get married next week, right?
I hope not! For Blaine, if he moves to New York – and I don’t know if this is going to happen – but I would assume they’re going to live together. Call me crazy, but when you get engaged to somebody usually that’s a good idea. So that will present a whole new structure to their relationship, and I’m sure it will create problems and conflict, which those things do and we grow and we learn and all that good character development stuff. But I don’t know. We’ll see. My guess is as good as anyone’s.
Anything you can tell me about what you’re singing in the next episodes?
Yes and no. No, not because I’m being coy. I just don’t know. We’re doing songs that we have done before for the 100th episode, which I was initially a little concerned about because I was thinking ‘I don’t want to be responsible for making a song that was already great bad.’ I don’t want to have that on my head. But they’re kind of a re-celebration of songs that were popular in the past and we’re doing those with some of the old gang.
We had a great dance rehearsal last week and it was the first time I’d been in the same room as all those people. It was me, Dianna [Agron], Harry Shum, Amber [Riley] and then Kristin Chenoweth. It was great.
Criss has fond memories of performing a Wham classic with Chord Overstreet.
Do you have a song either in the show or not that you personally never get tired of singing?
There are songs in the show that I don’t get tired of singing. I never get tired of Teenage Dream. I don’t roll my eyes when people say ‘You must be sick of that.’ No, I love that song. I totally love that song. Love singing it, love hearing it. I also have such a disassociation with myself on that song so if it’s on the radio I turn it up and roll down the window, not because it’s self-aware or a joke. I just forget that I did it! It’s a great song.
One story that is really special for me and Chord Overstreet is we did “Wake Me Up [Before You Go Go]“, the beloved Wham song and that song is so insatiably fun. You can’t help but smile when you sing it even if you’re stressed out about dance rehearsal or shooting all day. I particularly remember that one being, ‘I love this!’
I remember that video coming out and everybody was shocked when George Michael came out and I was like ‘really?’
‘Did you not see that? Were you not there in the 80s?’ Exactly! [laughs]
What do you have coming up outside the show in 2014?
For me, having really made my way as a musician before Glee, and not to some huge degree but that was the path I was going down, that was something that I needed to do and I could’ve put an album out, in my mind I’m three years overdue, but I just had too many things that I wanted to do and I didn’t want to half-ass it. So I’d like to finish what I’ve been working on the past few years this year because I think it needs to be done.
I hope Lea Michele’s album does so well and it will be a big smash because she’s a superstar. Mine will be a little different, it’s a different process. I’m the nerdy rock musician who wants to make my nerdy rock and roll so I don’t know if it will be the same fanfare, but I’d like to finish it. Or do another stage show or do a movie. Beggars can’t be choosers, man! I’ll take whatever they give me.
Glee returns with new episodes on February 25th. For more on Darren Criss, visit his website.