Darren Criss took home his first Emmy during Monday night’s awards show. The star won best actor in a limited series or movie for his portrayal of Andrew Cunanan in FX’s The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.
“Oh my God, you guys are witnessing the most extraordinary moment of my life. I’m very privileged to be in this room among so many people who inspire the crap out of me and I’m so honored to be nominated,” he said in his acceptance speech. “A lot of you guys, I’ve been a fan of for such a long time. Actors are really only as good as the moments they are given and the moments they are granted. So I am profoundly indebted to my friend Ryan Murphy for entrusting me with this opportunity of a lifetime and for believing in me.”
He also thanked his mom and dad, adding: “Unlike the character I played, I was lucky enough to be raised in a home that was very loving and emphasized the value of hard work, compassion and not taking yourself too seriously.”
He concluded by acknowledging the support of his fiancée, producer Mia Swier.
The Glee alum fended off tough competition, including Melrose‘s Benedict Cumberbatch, Genius: Picasso‘s Antonio Banderas, The Looming Tower‘s Jeff Daniels, USS Callister‘s Jesse Plemons and Jesus himself, Jesus Christ Superstar‘s John Legend. Minutes before Criss’ win, Ryan Murphy won the award for best directing in a limited series or movie for his work on The Assassination of Gianni Versace.
Last month, Criss opened up to The Hollywood Reporter about stepping into Cunanan’s shoes for the acclaimed Murphy-directed and produced series. Though Cunanan murdered fashion designer Gianni Versace (played by Edgar Ramirez) in July 1997 — and killed himself not long after — Criss explained how he learned to sympathize with his infamous character.
“Andrew didn’t really creep me out as much as he broke my heart. He had so much potential, but somehow went from being a bright, promising young man to a murderer,” said the actor. “He felt like he was nothing and had nothing in the world. I think that moment in the show is very telling of the emptiness that he felt in life.”
This article was originally published by The Hollywood Reporter.