By Corinne Heller
April 16, 2011
Darren Criss, who plays Blaine on "Glee," cites Disney as one of his musical inspirations.
"I remember seeing people's reaction to 'Aladdin' and thinking, 'Oh, man, I want to be a genie when I grow up!'" Criss, a 24-year-old native of San Francisco, told Billboard magazine.
"Robin Williams is a pretty big character in San Francisco," Criss said. "I was like, 'I want to do whatever that guy does. What does he do, Mom? He's an actor? OK, I want to do that.'"
On the FOX musical comedy series, Criss' character is a leading singer of the rival club that challenges the main glee club. He is also the love interest of main character Kurt, played by Chris Colfer. Criss was made a regular cast member for the show's current second season.
Criss said that as a child, he listened to cast record recordings of musicals such as "Les Miserables" and works by Andrew Lloyd Webber, the man behind the show "Phantom of the Opera," as well as pop songs. When he was older, he began writing and performing music.
"I figured at an open mic, I could either play a song about my own personal struggle with x-y-z, or I could play a Disney song, like 'Part of Your World,'" he said, citing Ariel's ballad from the 1989 film "The Little Mermaid." "If you can tap into someone's nostalgia, you've got it."
Criss spoke to OnTheRedCarpet.com at a recent AIDS Project Los Angeles event about how fame has affected him.
"It's not like I have a big throne and people fanning me with palm leaves and feeding me grapes. I still buy the grapes at Trader Joe's," he said, referring to a popular U.S. supermarket chain.
"I had a life before 'Glee' that continues to keep me kind of busy," he added. "The people who are close to me are still the people who are close to me. People have kind of opened up in ways that I would have never expected."
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