The New York Times on Friday published a profile of Darren Criss, ostensibly to promote the actor’s role as Andrew Cunanan in The Assassination of Gianni Versace, but seemingly also to promote reporter Michael Schulman’s belief that Darren Criss is a simple boy. A sweet and innocent lad. Mr. Peanutbutter, the charmingly oblivious yellow lab from BoJack Horseman, if Mr. Peanutbutter was playing a serial killer. You should really read the whole thing — it’s a master class in the paper’s deadpan condescension — but if you just want a taste, here are the six shadiest moments.
1. When the actor tries his hand at introspection:
Like any decent actor playing a villain, he had looked for Mr. Cunanan’s redeeming traits: his talent, his likability. “The bleeding idealist in me always likes to think that there are more things in common between all of us than there aren’t,” he said. Presumably, he meant “bleeding-heart idealist,” but the phrase seemed apt.
2. How he’s like his character:
But Mr. Criss and Mr. Cunanan had some unlikely similarities, beginning with an uncanny physical resemblance. Both are half-Filipino California natives, and “we both revel in being different,” Mr. Criss said. As a teenager, he wore vintage bell-bottoms to high school, while the young Mr. Cunanan put dimes in his penny loafers for “that extra bit of flair.”
3. This glimpse into his process:
“This is going to be rad!” Mr. Criss said, barely containing his enthusiasm. The first assistant director went over the shot: stare at the water; take off shirt, shoes and sunglasses; zip up backpack; jump in.
“Shirt, shoes, sunglasses,” the actor repeated. “I like the alliteration of that.” Mr. Criss gazed at the beach. “Look at these colors, guys. It looks fake!”
4. Another glimpse:
“That was insane,” he shouted while he walked back, as someone swathed him in a white robe. He smiled into the sun and took stock of his luck: “Just a day at the office. Who gets to do this?”
On a break, I mentioned that he seemed to be having fun, and he bridled. “I’m really careful with that word,” he said, his smile dissipating. “This is pretty gruesome material.”
5. This merciless description of his performance:
“Show us your face,” the episode’s director, Dan Minahan, instructed, and Mr. Criss revealed an anguished expression out of “Guernica.” After “Cut!,” he instantly reverted to his sunny self, saying, “I haven’t been in the water since we got back to Miami, so: check!”
6. And finally, a moment of clarity:
“And that’s why acting is such a fun art form to me, again as a bleeding idealist, a bleeding happy-go-lucky dude,” he said, grinning again at his sheer dumb luck. “People casually ask me, ‘How’s the show going?’ And I will say with no ounce of irony or hyperbole, ‘I’ve worked and waited my entire life for this moment, and I couldn’t be happier.’”
Moments later, something close to an irony did cross his mind: “It’s the life Andrew Cunanan would have dreamed of, frankly.”