Award-winning actor Darren Criss is no longer comfortable playing gay characters, knowing that a gay actor may be better suited for the role.
Criss has made a name for himself playing gay characters such as Glee‘s Blaine Anderson, and gay serial killer Andrew Cunanan in American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace.
“I want to make sure I won’t be another straight boy taking a gay man’s role.”
— Darren Criss
In an interview with Bustle, Criss said that what drove him to these characters was their complexity, which made them an exciting role to play. But he is also too aware that, as a straight man, those are not necessarily his stories to tell.
“I want to make sure I won’t be another straight boy taking a gay man’s role,” Criss told the publication.
“The reason I say that is because getting to play those characters is inherently a wonderful dramatic experience,” he added. “It has made for very, very compelling and interesting people.”
Criss, who won an Emmy and was also nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance as Cunanan, also explained he wanted the role because it represented the first opportunity of his career to play a character with the same Filipino-American heritage as him.
“There’s something very twisted about the fact that somebody that I share ethnicity with, a Caucasian-Filipino-American who is famous for doing something absolutely deplorable, is now the reason that I get to sit here and talk to you,” Criss told Bustle. “That is sort of a bizarre twist of fate.”
Darren Criss speaks out on Hollywood representation issues
Criss’s comments address a longstanding issue of representation in Hollywood, with actors from LGBT+ and ethnic minorities groups becoming increasingly vocal in denouncing the industry’s double standards, wherein cisgender straight actors receive praise for taking on roles outside of their experience, while LGBT+ and BAME actors struggle to get cast.
Cisgender white actor Scarlett Johansson became a sort of poster-child for the issue of representation, first in 2017, when she played the lead role in the remake of the Japanese cult anime Ghost in the Shell and then this year, when she became attached to the role of real-life transgender gangster and massage parlour owner Dante ‘Tex’ Gill in the biopic Rub & Tug.