Darren Criss may have shared his signing table with fashion icon Anna Wintour Thursday at Fashion’s Night Out, but the fans who lined the streets all day were decidedly there for the “Glee” star first and foremost. While no stranger to enthusiastic crowds when playing Blaine Anderson on the hit TV show, it’s not often you see a hundred teenage girls rushing through the designer evening wear section of Saks Fifth Avenue for a photo opp.
We caught up with Criss just after the excitement peaked to talk about covering Madonna for the FNO promo video, what’s up with Blaine’s new attitude this season, and which iconic break up tune he’s excited about singing.
How did you react when you found out you’d be covering Madonna’s “Dress You Up” for FNO?
I was thrilled. We did the David Bowie cover last year with all the “Glee” kids, I knew this song a little more than I did “Fashion,” so that was cool. I was kind of shocked. I enjoy fashion a lot and I’m very happy to be a part of the stuff that the fashion gods are letting me be a part of. I was like, “I hope I don’t mess it up, I hope Madonna thinks its cool if she ever hears it.”
Are you aware of the fan campaign to get the full track released?
I’m very oblivious to most of what the fans are doing. I’m not very proud of that. The only thing I know about that I discovered by accident is the “Darren Doesn’t Know” thing. I found this the other day and I was like “this is so bizarre.” I was like 18 years old when I was using the Facebook, thinking I was being funny. I saw a meme of it and I was like, “I thought this was so funny for like two seconds, and now there’s a meme of it.” It was weird, like how did they find it? It’s not a bad thing, except I’m ruining the lore of “Darren Doesn’t Know” because I do know about that. But no, I did not know there was a campaign for (the FNO song). I thought it was released?
There’s people talking over the vocals in the video they released. They want the full track released.
Oh, well I don’t even have that. I haven’t heard the whole song, so I’ll get behind that.
Do you feel any pressure to be fashionable in your everyday life in light of your character’s fashion or being involved in projects like Fashion’s Night Out?
Not really. It depends on what you’re doing. I’ve always enjoyed fashion and dressing up for things, whether it’s high fashion or play fashion. But no, I never thought about it like that but I suppose it’s there. I do feel bad when you’re in the supermarket and you see tabloids with people going about their day and they’re criticized for what they’re wearing. It’s not fair, they shouldn’t have to be fashionable at all times. Fashion is about owning whatever you’re wearing, regardless of if it’s a high fashion statement or not. I enjoy it, I’m not trying any harder but I enjoy doing it.
The first episode of the Glee season is call “The New Rachel” and in promos we see that Blaine is one of the New Directions members vying for her leadership position.
Yeah! Blaine’s like a meanie now. I don’t know what really happened! I read the first script and I was like, “why’s Blaine so feisty?” I think the writers were getting bored with Blaine being nice. We joke about Season 4 Tina too, she’s really sassy. We’re all vicious, maybe it’s Senioritis, who knows. When we read the script I was like, “since when is Blaine really competitive?” But who knows, maybe Kurt’s gone and the gloves are off.
Fans got a preview of some songs from the new season this week, and for the “Boys/Boyfriend” mashup you and Kevin McHale talked about how choreographer Zach Woodlee instructed you to act “boyband” for the performance. Any particular boyband inspirations?
We just jumped around, we just wanted to be silly and cheesy and stupid, so that’s exactly what we did. There’s like, cliches. I hope this one made it into it — the hands in front of your face like “where did I go? There I am, I’m behind my hands.” You can’t see that on a recorder…
I’ll draw it.
I”m sure you can find a Gif of somebody doing it. I think it’s in the “Everybody” video. So there’s that, just being sassy and silly. [Ed Note. The move is not in “Everybody,” but it is in “I Want It That Way” by Backstreet Boys. Gif away.]
Speaking of music, you tweeted about Mr. Hudson’s new video recently.
He’s one of my all time heroes and I’ve been a huge fan of his for a long time. When I started working in the music industry he was number one one my wishlist. It’s nice to be friend and work colleagues with someone you admire.
Anything to share about new original music from you?
Not really. I’m always writing music, that’s the answer I give every time.
Have you been successfully pitching any songs for Glee you want to sing?
I absolutely got one that I completely pitched and I’m so happy about it.
Old song, new song?
It’s an old song, it’s a spoiler but I know all the fans know about it already. I texted Ryan Murphy a while back just saying, ‘hey, if you ever have any of the characters break up don’t miss out on the opportunity to use one of the greatest break-up pop songs of the last 100 years. You have to use “Don’t Speak.” It can work as a duet, it can work as a four-part harmony. It’s a gold mine, you have to use that.’ And I would rarely do stuff like that, but it’s one of my favorite songs ever written and I remember listening to it in the car and I pulled over and texted Ryan, “just a thought…”. Then the script showed up and there it was and I was like, “yes!” I don’t want to take credit for it, but I did suggest it.
You were performing the final Harry Potter musical with Team StarKid at Leaky Con and then less than 24 hours later you were filming “Don’t Speak” in New York for Glee. How was that weekend for you as a performer?
It was tough because I didn’t know we were shooting that that day. I had no idea and that’s a very big scene and I was very upset because I wanted to prep more for it. I had a huge day the day before. I was exhausted, really exhausted, emotionally exhausted.
How was it having fans there watching that scene live?
It was really tough, but the cool thing about fans is that they’re so happy to be there that you can rationalize with fans. It’s funny how you can’t reason with adults some times, but kids I could. They were right in my eyeline and I had to go over and explain like, “I’m so happy you’re here but have you ever been writing an essay and someone is looking over your shoulder? It’s really tough and this is work for me so would you mind moving over?” They were more than willing, and they have every right to be there because it’s a public park. But it’s our office, it’s our workspace. Although it is well intended, it does get tough sometimes and the energy is well appreciated. You can never complain about love.
“Glee” returns Thursday, Sept 13 at 9/8c on Fox.