Darren Criss' Life Since Glee Ended

In 2010, Darren Criss became a worldwide "Teenage Dream" when he appeared on "Glee" as one half of the fan-favorite couple "Klaine," Blaine Anderson. The record-breaking show ended in 2015, but Criss' career was not calling for curtains anytime soon. Criss' zeal for life and his untouchable musical enthusiasm has shepherded him across the Hollywood spectrum, including film, television, music, theater, and more. "I'm the kind of guy where if you give me a white canvas ... I'm more likely to fill up a blank canvas immediately with as much s*** as possible," he revealed to Wonderland in 2021. 

Along the way, he's kept close to not only his co-stars, but also his family of friends — blood related and not. Based on his extensive career resume, there's more to Criss than playing piano or hitting a high note, from winning awards to hosting them. "I think the curse of creative people is that our ideas move faster than our bodies can execute," he revealed to 1883 Magazine. "At any given moment, there's still so much more in the queue that I want to put out." Here's what Criss has been up to since "Glee" ended.

He became a real Broadway baby

After "Glee" wrapped in 2015, Darren Criss wasted no time in returning to the Broadway stage. Criss, who made his Broadway debut in the revival of "How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying" in 2012, took on the title role of a genderqueer rock star in "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" for a limited run in the summer of 2015. "I've always had my sights set on this," he told the Los Angeles Times. "This could very well be the greatest role I ever play." But Broadway wasn't the only occasion that Criss played the role. He returned to the role during the San Francisco and Los Angeles engagements on the show's 2016 national tour, as well as made an appearance in the show's 24th Anniversary Parking Lot Tour in 2022.

2022 also marked the year that Criss returned to the New York stage, this time in the revival of David Mamet's "American Buffalo" opposite Lawrence Fishburne and Sam Rockwell. The show was originally planned to run in 2020, but was postponed due to the worldwide pandemic. The revival, which ran for a limited run from March through July 2022, received positive reviews and it was determined in May of that year that Criss was eligible for featured player nomination consideration at that year's Tony Awards.

Darren Criss hit it big on television

Post "Glee," Darren Criss showed his stuff on television through both live action and cartoon programming. Similar to some of his other "Glee" co-stars, he guest-starred on another of "Glee" creator Ryan Murphy's shows, "American Horror Story." Criss appeared in Season 5, "Hotel," alongside Kathy Bates. He also joined "Glee" co-stars Grant Gustin and Melissa Benoist on a special musical crossover episode of "The Flash" and "Supergirl" in 2017. The episode was extra special for Criss, as he also got to co-star alongside his University of Michigan college classmate Carlos Valdes and perform a song written by Michigan alums (and Oscar winning composing duo) Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. "It's been just mind-blowing to be around all these folks that I've known for a while," Criss shared with Entertainment Weekly.

His most acclaimed role came in 2017 with his award-winning turn in "The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story." Criss starred as Andrew Cunanan, the serial killer who murdered fashion designer Gianni Versace in 1997, opposite Edgar Ramirez as Versace. The show, which also starred Penelope Cruz and Ricky Martin, was a hit with critics and audiences alike, and earned Criss a series of awards including a Golden Globe, an Emmy, and a SAG Award, with the latter making him the youngest winner ever in the Guild's Limited Series/TV Movie Actor award category.

He became an on-screen superhero

Singing and dancing aren't Darren Criss' only superpowers. Post "Glee," he has honed in on his voice acting skills in a number of animated programs, including several superhero vehicles for DC Comics. Most notably, he voiced Clark Kent/Superman in several straight-to-video films including 2020's "Superman: Man of Tomorrow," 2021's "Justice Society: World War II," and 2023's "DC's Legion of Superheroes." (And, as the "Glee" current runs thick through Hollywood, former co-stars Matt Bomer and Harry Shum Jr. will co-star with Criss in the latter.) "I like keeping myself in balance by taking constant left and right turns," he explained to the New York Post of his career choices. "You think I'm doing all this stuff spontaneously, but it's not without a significant attention to detail and planning ... Drop me off anywhere, and I will make [it] as awesome as possible."

But it's not just Superman that turned Criss into a cartoon crusader. He's also voiced Raphael on multiple "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" titles including 2019's "Batman vs Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" and the 2016 short "Turtles Take Time (and Space)." He's also tapped into his "Transformers" side as the voice of Sideswipe in the series "Transformers: Robots in Disguise," which ran from 2014 to 2017.

Darren Criss diversified his recording career

Darren Criss has always been known for his music, and is rarely seen on and off screen without a guitar nearby. The musical standout has released a number of records both solo and as part of a project dating back to his 2010 debut, "Human." In 2017, he released the "Homework" EP, which was his first solo effort in seven years at that time. "The main idea behind this was to embrace me just being me as much as possible in the hopes of it reaching [the audience] in some kind of positive way," he told Variety upon its release. Compared to the more chill vibes of "Homework," his next solo endeavor, 2021's "Masquerade," was decidedly more funky — even by the album cover alone. In 2022, Criss even released his own pun-friendly Christmas album "A Very Darren Crissmas," which featured duets from the likes of (you guessed it) "Glee" co-star Adam Lambert, country singer Lainey Wilson, and actor Evan Rachel Wood.

Criss also made music with his late brother Chuck through the duo Computer Games. Chuck, a former member of indie ensemble Freelance Whales, worked with his brother to create a nostalgic 80's and 90's-hued kaleidoscope of a record that featured the single "Every Single Night." "[This was] something that we wanted to do for a long time because we wrote music together when we were teenagers," Chuck shared in 2017 with Entertainment Weekly. "And it's actually better now because we're more experienced songwriters, more confident musicians."

He toured the country with music and more

Just like any musician eager to share their art, Darren Criss has toured the country extensively to perform for thousands of fans. Even before "Glee," Criss had embarked on several jaunts in the US and UK. His sets combined his hits from "Glee," his original pieces, and showtunes and standards. "I've known deep-cut Rodgers & Hart songs since I was 13 that I still perform now on the road," he shared with The San Diego Union Tribune. Criss has also toured with former "Glee" co-star Lea Michele on "The LM/DC Tour" in 2018. Fans were thrilled to see the real-life duet partners together, sharing numbers from their "Glee" days as well as solo singles from their own discographies. According to a review on DC Theater Arts, "They ... created a sound that was more than just the sum of its parts."

Criss has also appeared as a special guest on tours and performances of his showbiz friends, including actor Alan Cumming, Broadway personality Seth Rudetsky, and even alongside DJ/producer Steve Aoki at Tomorrowland 2019. He's played a part in several shows at the iconic Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles; in 2020, he joined the likes of Sara Bareilles and John Stamos in an all-star concert of "The Little Mermaid." He returned to the Bowl in 2022 alongside Pentatonix, where he brought out his college theater troupe Team StarKid for a sing-along reunion.

He started his own musical theater festival

Darren Criss tapped into his inner thespian in 2015 when he launched Elsie Fest, a Broadway-based outdoor music festival in New York City. The festival name itself comes from the title song of the musical "Cabaret," where the character of Sally Bowles laments about her spirited roommate from Chelsea, Elsie, and how when she's at the end of her life, she's "going like Elsie." "I was at Coachella and thought 'let's do this for showtunes,'" Criss said in a statement shared with Billboard. "I figured, why not shake up people's ideas of where to watch the performers they love. Enter Elsie."

The festival, which has been on hiatus since September 2022, has featured a bevy of Broadway's best, including Sutton Foster, Cynthia Erivo, and Lea Salonga (among many others), as well as the casts of up-and-coming Broadway musicals like "The Prom" and "Be More Chill." Criss has also tapped into his rolodex of former co-stars and invited "Glee" favorites like Lea Michele, Grant Gustin, Alex Newell, and Matthew Morrison to perform throughout the festival's first five years. Of course, Criss himself has played a set every year, bringing out special guest stars and old friends along the way. "It all has to do with wanting to share and create experiences with a group and be a part of this world and make people feel connected," Criss said of the festival to App.

He became a businessman in his own right

Darren Criss' dancing feet have not just stayed on stages, they've also tapped their way into business ventures. In 2013, he joined unisex beauty brand The Motley as a business partner alongside sibling founders Matthew and Madison Ruggieri. The company, which boasts its "purpose-driven skincare," features US-made products including scents, moisturizers, cleansers, and more that Criss himself has shared on his social media. "Like anybody else, I'm looking for the best version of myself. And in so doing, I'm looking for the best products, too," Criss shared of the brand with The Hollywood Reporter.

Alongside his wife Mia, Criss also launched his own Los Angeles-based piano bar, Tramp Stamp Granny's, in 2018. The venue, which boasts "drinks, dancing, and upscale debauchery," has played host to a number of Hollywood stars like Vanessa Hudgens, Rita Ora, and director Taika Waititi, and takes inspiration from famous NYC hotspot Marie's Crisis. Adding to the starpower are A-list investors including Oscar-winning composer Benj Pasek (of Pasek and Paul) and NYC Z100 radio show host Elvis Duran. While he and his wife work with their business partner Danny Massare on the overall operations, Criss is also known to tickle the ivories and sing the spontaneous duet with friends and guests from time to time. As for the cheeky name? "[The name] alone really filters in the kind of people we love to have in this bar," he told Time Out. "They're a bit tongue in cheek and don't take life too seriously."

Darren Criss is still a StarKid

Darren Criss has remained very close with his former castmates. From going on tour together to sharing the stage at festivals and beyond, it seems he's definitely kept in touch with a number of his co-stars. But beyond those he's shared the small screen with, he's also maintained a relationship with some of his oldest friends and fellow musical theater performers, Team StarKid. 

StarKid was formed in 2009 by Criss and a number of University of Michigan theater students. The group shared the now viral parody musical "A Very Potter Musical" that year, and the rest (including sequels, albums, tours, and more) was history. Criss, who starred as Harry Potter in the fictional farce, wrote the music and lyrics to the show alongside AJ Holmes. Even after Criss landed his role on "Glee," he still attended StarKid events including tours and reunions. "It's great to see people who have experienced us on the Internet being able to experience it in person, it's really invaluable," he shared with Billboard.

StarKid celebrated their 10th anniversary in 2019 with "StarKid Homecoming," a live concert filmed in Los Angeles that featured former and current StarKid members performing some of the group's most memorable numbers. Of course, Criss appeared throughout the show, too. "I never thought I'd be able to make a living doing fun stuff with my friends from college, so it's nice to be able to continue that," Criss shared with the Detroit Free Press.

He tapped into his inner family man

Darren Criss has always been known as a family man, frequently collaborating with and sharing pictures of his loved ones. In 2019, the Criss family expanded when he married his longtime love Mia Swier. The couple, who had been together for almost a decade at the time, took to New Orleans, Louisiana for their nuptials, where famous friends like John Stamos, Jennifer Cooldige, and a pantheon of "Glee" stars joined in on the fun. The lavish ceremony and raucous reception were even covered by Vogue. "It was a long time coming," he shared with Esquire when the pair were engaged. "We'd waited a while before we announced it."

Sadly, in April 2020, the Criss family lost patriarch Charles William Criss, Jr., best known as Bill, at age 78. His son took to Instagram to honor his father, saying, "Bill Criss has left the building ... He was a true gentleman through and through, and was a constant source of joy and inspiration for me." Two years later, Criss' older brother Chuck died by suicide at age 36. "He was my confidant and companion as we discovered the world together," Criss wrote in a touching tribute on Instagram. "As we got older, music became one of our greatest bonds." Despite his great losses, a new Criss arrived later in 2022 with the birth of daughter Bluesy Belle. "M & D made some sweet music," Criss shared on Instagram of him and his wife holding their new bundle of joy.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.