Familiar face: U-M alum Darren Criss featured on cover of Entertainment Weekly

From Emmys to career-defining role, Criss is having big year

Darren Criss, nominee for The Drama TVStar of 2018 award, poses in the press room at the People's Choice Awards 2018 on Nov. 11, 2018, in Santa Monica, California. (Gregg DeGuire/Getty Images)

ANN ARBOR – University of Michigan alum Darren Criss is on the cover of Entertainment Weekly's "Entertainers of the Year" edition.

The feature wraps up a big year for Criss.

He transformed his squeaky-clean teen heartthrob image after playing Blaine Anderson on "Glee" for years when he took a darker role on FX’s "The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story."

He played Andrew Cunanan, who murdered five people in 1997, including fashion designer Gianni Versace -- a massive step away from Blaine.

"Glee co-creator" and executive producer of "The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story" Ryan Murphy knew he wanted Criss to play Cunanan from the beginning.

"I thought there was a great dramatic actor inside there waiting to come out," Murphy told EW earlier this year. "He took his responsibilities very seriously, and the best thing I can ever do, having the gig I have, is believing in people and giving them opportunities to shine. I am proud of him and I always knew he could do it."

Murphy's instincts were spot on. Criss' convincing performance of the cold-blooded serial killer earned him an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie. "The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story" took home six more wins that night.

U-M students, alums and fans watching his acceptance speech took to social media after Criss ended his speech by saying, "Go Blue!"

Criss told EW it was one of "the greatest acting gigs" he's had in his career.

So what's next for 31-year-old actor?

He is now on tour with Lea Michele, his former "Glee" cast mate, and will costar in the historical drama "Midway" with Woody Harrelson, Mandy Moore and Luke Evans in 2019.

EW's 2018 "Entertainers of the Year" hits stands Friday. 

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