It’s cold out there. Stay in and turn to these shows coming to your TV this winter.
Darren Criss doesn’t have to worry that he’ll be forever typecast as that cute, preppy singer from Glee.
FX’s limited series, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story (Wednesday, 10 ET/PT) roughs up that wholesome image.
Versace, a follow-up to 2016’s Emmy-winning O.J. Simpson courtroom saga, recounts Cunanan’s 1997 murder spree, which claimed five lives as the 27-year-old traversed the country, ending with the iconic fashion designer outside his mansion in Miami Beach.
Criss, 30, best known as Warblers singer and Kurt’s lover (and eventual husband) Blaine Anderson on Glee, reunites with executive producer Ryan Murphy on a darker story with a bigger, weightier role.
“I had a great time doing Blaine, (but he) is part of a more ensemble piece,” he says. “It was nice to be on a bigger playing field with Ryan and to get our hands dirty.”
Murphy said Criss was the first actor he cast for the pivotal role in Versace, based on Maureen Orth’s book, Vulgar Favors. The high-powered cast also includes Oscar winner Penelope Cruz as Versace’s sister, Donatella, and Ricky Martin as his partner, Antonio D’Amico.
Criss acting against his Glee image works well in Versace, executive producer Nina Jacobson says.
People might ask, “How could that (Glee) guy be this guy? (just as) the people who knew Andrew said, ‘How can that guy be this guy?’ “ she says.
Criss has a likability but also an ability to go darker, Jacobson says. “Andrew was not your garden-variety psychopath, torturing animals as a child. He was well-liked, warm, connected to people. To watch his descent and see his humanity but still never excuse his actions, I thought Darren just had that: the glibness, on one hand, and the depth.”
Criss, a San Francisco native who has been playing musical instruments since childhood, likens being part of the troupe Murphy calls on for his various projects to the repertory nature of the American Conservatory Theater, where he was accepted to a youth program.