'American Crime Story' star on his role as serial killer Andrew Cunanan

Criss appears on "Popcorn With Peter Travers" and talks about working on the new FX series with director Ryan Murphy.
18:31 | 03/14/18

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Transcript for 'American Crime Story' star on his role as serial killer Andrew Cunanan
So its plans night. Well you. If options for you never make a move. It's you being told no it was all pulled no you're not. For me being told no sleeping until I don't exist. Think it disappears from. The look. It's look. Hello everybody and I am Peter Travers and the popcorn will we tell you what pop in everywhere in the culture so. I thought it now it's time now because primer does its American crime story. And it's the fascination. Yet today Dan crip who. I think is brilliant in this show is not. In it isn't so we can discuss later why that's happening. But. He's he's here for the first so. Years is great acting as enemy coming taxi rides had raised by your presence. Would know that things you can hear any of is but to see how wildly. Out of our this is that your experience. But be careful that are real an art everything. That are gonna start with this because you'd hear constant. It's people's being shocked with you playing in June. 8 killer. Five people who. You know. And to both people in the world you're the guy from. Everybody. But just talking to you earlier I could see it your tribal. Yeah I mean I'm terrified so Ryan Murphy knew he Maceda among working with you that this was going to be differ well I I think that. Wouldn't it will be reason that there was going to be difficult that it was that you could lay somebody. With that true dark guy I think it's less about him. I should hope it's less that hinting that there was a dark side some matches and understanding that that I'm an actor and an understanding that. That like all of all actors hopefully you know we've. We will strive to have access to all sides of the human psyche so I I hope that it's less. In thinking man this gets dark dark weirdo and more about. Understanding that. I'm as much as I've I make fun of the concept of the crap that you despite myself. I'd do you see myself as. A trained actor I didn't say good actor but I'd like to think that I brought that to to work on glee and all the things that I've gone. So. Yeah eight. I've I've been kind of waiting. In working my whole life for an opportunity like that he's and the fact that it came up I was sort of on the sidelines of the electorate that mean coach so the fact that Ryan. Believed in that I'm I'm very much indebted to win. People are saying eighteen years and they're saying Blaine was a guy everybody lot. And who can then in. In this presentation of that life and the way you play. Is of course this person guilty of those crimes but he's also a human being. Now we if we don't forgive him we still understand him because of what you did. So that was me in the beginning can graduating in what you did because that is difficult to do. You could if it can often be gimmick for an actor you'd say well I do you think of me this but I'm gonna play this but its surface you didn't it surface you've got really underneath it will thank you the nerve endings I think enters the picture with what was that scare you. It dozens. Scare me now because I think. I think we're all closer to somebody like Andrew. Then we carry would net. As we are to all characters in this world think. In every everybody's here of their own story. Doesn't matter what's whether our morality lies there were whenever there sort of lifelong emotional markets were all the heroes of our own tail so. You don't as an actor. I and this is my go to line I'm the businesses. As I do for a living as my livelihood trying to planets might data daylight but it but particularly. When you when you're playing characters in this was a real person. And done. We all. Focus on. The worst the most horrible deplorable things which is obviously he took lives he was a murder he killed people. Which is deplorable unforgivable thing and I'm not asking people to forgive him or exonerate him. But I am quote. Challenging people to question their own senses of empathy and seeing how many. Common denominator say they can find issues with some B that they might immediately and if somebody very distant from themselves but as an actor you don't approach him as this is that somebody who killed somebody in this is somebody like everybody else. Has felt pain desire fear love and patience. Who doesn't know what it's like to want to rise above your station or get that which you can't have means are all. Things that are very primary ones and zeros that if that's your point of entry. As any person much less an actor you can kinda start seeing through that magnifying glass a little easier so that's. That's kind of my approach somebody like and you. What we see when we're watching this show that it starts with the assassination. And for such and goes backwards until by episode eight we're basically seeing Andrew's child. And this very warped childhood with a mother who Scott mental challenges in a father who's got difficulties way beyond that. But you win Brian Merck becomes you and says I want you to play and you can what did she know about him before. How were given a scripted that. I mean I knew what most people now which is why I think we start with a show which is the assassination John such that is. The reason why these other four murders are being brought to light because the pen Altman's murder other than taking his life. Was was someone as famous as Johnny. So I ain't that was only knew under the Johnny was shot in the funds from his home or for sermons Miami passed in the house and and I only that's that's where was. But of that I don't know much about injure it has Baxter which is exciting exciting for me I guess is a story teller. Because people really don't know this was OJ there's an overwhelming amount of information we have we don't remember so many things resist something. I think in my shore in the fashion world living in Miami. It might be something little more distant from you and done that's that's a really killing the notion because I think. The American crime here other than the murders is. How come I didn't know about that Seton and we kind of we kind of explore that and also this sense of at the time in 1997. And the reason he wasn't captured. Is the home phone we surely cops didn't care I think there is you know we. We kind of light lead go through it and our show I think it has much more deeper implications but. Andrew was really heavily involved in this very. Sub cultural. World of the gay community which is these sort of rough trade. Essen and yes and parties and sexual activity which I think for most people on the outside the sort of typical federal normative. Outside world looking in expression and ninety's that's such a bizarre world that. A lot of folks. Might not understand. And I was aware that in grisly heavily involved in and you can you can make all kinds of sort of psychological. Assumptions as to why that was something and he really enjoyed as far as. He you know. Being the dominant person in his life having control over somebody sexually enjoying having somebody be submissive in a world where he's kind of it's it's somewhere working it all of his sort of suppressed. Desires can kind of manner fast and in this sort of sexual power. And I think that's assuming that was pretty predominant throughout I think a lot of his sexual life so when you see him you know engaging in this sort of you know stripping of identity. Of himself for other people think there is enjoyed that and while it might seem weird to people there there's a much deeper. Psychological story going on there and the bulk time on this is that when he sees America's eyes and this is weird imagine what that's like for the FBI. In the ninety's and kind of discovering all these things and not really knowing how to reach this subculture. It's something that we won it. Wanna broadcast to our children is happening and I even will give. Those folks' a benefit the down I think it's less about. We see homophobia I think we think of extreme. Cases of actually hate crimes and violence but does a more institutionalized. Homophobia comes from. Here misunderstanding and uncertainty of what things are and do I want to talk about this and do it looks strange if I'm investigating it. And those little questions build up to a much larger ignorance. On on institutional systematic level in the FBI or local investigation which is wise or many of these cases. Which by the way what this led to a man who was B. Not least Q was this is the largest failed manhunt in FBI history. I think that's how it now happening to me that sort of negligence and unfortunate ignorance. Is what the American crime story it is for this. But it Anqunette. If he's you playing another gay character after they. After head big which I managed CUO really adapt which was just Asia saying all right congress I've even seen you in succeed. In like the two and a half minutes and played out brought low. Here I'm glad I Darren Criss complete list you really are okay now we can happen. Only then did because I'd now. If you've seen you in exactly platinum status with like the Darren Myles with Israeli enters doesn't seem that our way it now. Sometimes. Because we see you I've seen you when you and me being somebody who is in anything like Lang. Sir you know this is very different. So what is this with you street kid growing up in San Francisco plains east gate there. You know what's so interesting is that. And the fact that injury was a gay man never really came into any kind of question in Tel we started promoting the show. Because objectively go yet it is kind of curious through line and characters got to play. Put I think it's a great is that it never even. Isn't part of the decision. We I was just lucky because that was a role that I got and it happened to be gay character and I think the popularity of that. Care to was because he was connected to really popular interest in compelling. Story line that that had the bonus of having some social weight to it so that was just winning the lottery. Hedwig is just an excellent story it's my favorite musicals. Yes Hedwig is a queer character but again I'm thinking in terms of great music and the impact of the story and and and and and just. The the explosive power of that care can and then when this I'm thinking more of terms of the grand scope of the the larger. Tale of the American crime story of the murder despite Madden and negligence FBI agents of the social landscape at the time these are the stories and I'm thinking they happen to all be based. In queer gay characters. So lucky me you know. Well it is funny because in glee your character unlike Kirk unlike Chris Colfer actor. He's got it together. We're out well. He does in his own way Blaine is. A certain parts of the show it well but is he dealing with a better then Kirk some. And yeah a lot of people that watch that has the two great comfort in the act. This relationship that that at and that in this context I guess I mean yes it it becomes more and more clear to me. This Scholl. Was we ended about two years ago so it started almost eight years ago it thank. Eight years a think for for folks have a certain age isn't that long but when your teen danger. Fifteen so you know fifteen to 23 is being asking if he. On on all fronts he. And it's been cool that enough time has gone by its work army people and adults in the work force in the world in New York Los Angeles. In very impressive things that are very much. Conscious mature adults. That. Wills it to mean or or people from our show. And say and mention the fact that things like that are on the part of so that the had a positive effect on them and it doesn't seem real. It to teenagers tiny something not to discredit the validity of the teenagers excitement he. There's a certain lack of gravity tots. When there's an additional thank you very monster's Wheaties or pat on the head thank you but when you have an adult coming up in saint swelling when I was teen injured. And you know if there there high profile journalists somewhere. On the part of your narrative you're. You're like a Smart kid like Jesus I didn't really know the impact so that's happening more and more as some as lot of young people. Are becoming adults. You kind of validating their experience to me after the fact makes it real enemy and that becomes the real thing. Can I go to use bill as a child because when you're doing this you're starting on business that's our thing again but I'm telling you I am pleased that we are very impressed you the girl mostly. Oh my god genuine call at eight re back at. It was certainly a fun of them related what you did any shows another aspect of view that most people haven't seen. What I was I mean. I did that it was when it first only got you off the heels glee. And I'm there with Chris Ray who just enough to ride rides and it's even though she is us now is it a lot though he was great and she was personally irony. In an agent apparently got it was a dream come true I mean. I was a big fan of the filmmakers. American splendor which was fair and lines teen danger. Close the questions. If you know I guess they're just reminiscing going to because of the life because arcade and because of and Harry Potter musical. The things you're inventing if you do crystal look at here at the foreign sit down with people's. Glad that Mike Green if it is filled with you that it's your job it's not as legitimate if it would just the job I wouldn't do. But back to start kid if my name and say what's cool about that is that was something that happened at the advent of what we now know is the social media. The the the beginning of it all. That was something I didn't college. A stark is theater company that was built from a show that we just in public lot of college students. Particularly theater kids. We do shows all the time and you do for your friends if you're faculty here they're there but they're chock full of inside private jokes that are only meant fear for ends. And for decades that it did its result the country people that this stuff and they lived and died right collagen a name they were never seen again. But because but now there's you to do is YouTube which was brand new. Infantile thing right when I was getting out of college so we happen to have spilled one of these shows which is one of many shows we have done. And we put it on the Internet not because it was platform exit wasn't at the time. But because that was easier than printing dvd is going to Walgreens getting the dvd. Sending to each person wherever they are living around the country are the worldly than. So put on YouTube it's our link out to our friends. Iran over the shall we did forgetting that the unit is 100% public happy and that at that other people could watch it. And that became part my sort of firstly it and that I think it was a for the success of that show. I don't think that would have longevity that I got album so publicly since that to me was kind of my first. Big rush with only got it from. Doing something here with the whole Harry Potter thing we you know with doing that via has you know man teaches here. I gotta get back to hard it is day tremendous heart what's hot night walks. Yeah thanks man let fly at parliament I. What's fun for me is that I get to live this dichotomy between being musicians songwriters and being an actor one is a very proactive. Why the idea that was very passive flatly. And kept without because obviously what you've got a job as an actor. You make proactive choices but you know I have to wait around for things like for such happening now was an incredible role that. Came to mean where's music. I can created and just make it on my terms and do things so I'm lucky to have that outlet but we lead actress he has never show. Yet depth and in song. We and it's not Galilee and it's a cable I don't know what it will be but I went diligent there's something in your hand you know it. He thought he saw how to succeed him. Two. That it. How it's it will take but there is rather. Man. Benevolent rather. A man and they're using oh tragedy. If that front Saturday. Eight. A they'll do dance break this if Aaron craft that was a real aggravated. I am a life well thanks man seeing did he added that the U did it.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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