By Carlo Versano and Kate Gill
After nabbing an Emmy in September, earning a Golden Globe nomination, and gracing the December cover of Entertainment Weekly, Darren Criss has every right to be smug.
But the actor-singer-songwriter who earned rave reviews for his turn as spree-killer Andrew Cunanan in FX's "The Assassination of Gianni Versace" knows he didn't do it alone.
"It's a lot bigger than me, which is always a nice reminder," he told Cheddar Tuesday. "It has to do with a lot of things that are so beyond my control."
"There are so many variables that I can't determine," he added acknowledging that many others ー directors, writers, editors, crew membersー contributed to his runaway success, which culminated last week with a Golden Globe nomination for Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture for TV.
Criss first captured teenage hearts as Blaine, the gay, bowtie-clad heartthrob in the high-school musical series "Glee." The actor may have transitioned into acting adulthood, but he's still in touch with the musical persona that launched his career. (He's currently on a concert tour with former costar Lea Michele.)
Criss' role as Cunanan, who murdered Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace and at least four other people in 1997, was considered among the best of the year ー praise that Criss said is partly a response to the complexity of Cunanan's life.
"It's not lost on me that [its success] has to do with someone who's famous for doing something very deplorable," he said. Still, he hopes the role helped viewers understand that evil is not always so cut-and-dried, and that Cunanan's life leading up to his infamous killing spree was not black and white. That "juxtaposition of dark and light" was what he loved about the role, he said.
Now Criss is partnering with Clorox on a philanthropic project that highlights the work of young people making an impact on their communities through cleaning. The Clorox What Comes Next Project supports people that "set the landscape for new beginnings," Criss said.
That could be the Florida high-school student who volunteers doing laundry for those in his community who can't afford it, or the Texas teenager who spends her free time cleaning cages at the local animal shelter.
Much like his acclaimed television role, Criss said the work these young people were doing spoke to his "artist's heart."
For full interview click here.