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Inside Ryan Murphy’s ‘Deliriously Enchanting’ 1940s Drama ‘Hollywood’ (Exclusive)

Darren Criss Hollywood
Darren Criss in 'Hollywood.'Saeed Adyani/Netflix

Ryan Murphy is rewriting history with a little help from his friends. Netflix’s Hollywood imagines a post–World War II Tinseltown in which systemic racism, gender bias and homophobia don’t exist — and puts on a flashy show at the same time! “The 1940s are just so ripe with their own mythology,” star Darren Criss, who also executive produces, exclusively says in the latest issue of Us Weekly. “A period so deliriously enchanting as the ’40s had this murky underbelly that we really wanted to explore.”

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Criss, who won a Golden Globe for his role in Murphy’s The Assassination of Gianni Versace, plays idealistic director Raymond Ainsley, who has many similarities to the show’s creator.

“He’s an idealistic visionary director who wants to use film as a medium of social justice,” the Glee alum, 33, shares. “He’s an advocate for historically marginalized people, exactly what Ryan Murphy has been doing his entire career. He doesn’t see the world how it is, but he wants to show the world how it can be, you know that’s that’s littered all throughout the fabric of Ryan Murphy’s work. That’s the thread that needles the tapestry together.”

David Corenswet Hollywood
David Corenswet in ‘Hollywood.’ Saeed Adyani/Netflix

David Corenswet, who previously appeared in Murphy’s The Politician and stars as leading man Jack Castello, credits Murphy’s direction for the perfect end product: “[He lets] the actors do their crazy, brilliant thing [just as long as] that central moment, the turn of the scene, is clear and meaningful.”

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Per usual, Murphy and producers Ian Brennan and Janet Mock have assembled a star-studded cast, including Dylan McDermott, Jeremy Pope, Holland Taylor, Laura Harrier, Samara Weaving, Jim Parsons and Patti LuPone — or “Patti f–king LuPone,” as Criss refers to her: “I was starstruck! It was so exciting for me!”

Not only does the show work in 2020, it works in the quarantined living quarters America is currently dealing with.

“In the ‘40s, people looked to the movies as a place to escape the sort of invisible enemy — whether it was your boys going off to was or something else,” Criss explains. “There was fear and uncertainty against this invisible enemy outside of your house, very much like today. We’re watching the show about escapism that is an escape from an invisible enemy outside. It’s just a strange, very wild parallel that hopefully can service the same things that Hollywood did in the 1940s which was, a departure and an escape from that which you know worries you.”

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It perfectly combines that serious tone with an entertaining story, Corenswet adds.

“Too often, there’s this idea that if your film or TV show is going to say something meaningful or poetic, it’s gonna be a chore to watch it,” the actor, 26, says. “This show gives a nod toward so many issues that are serious, important, on people’s minds — but boy is it a ton of fun. And easy to watch. Serious business delivered with a light touch and a flair for style is the name of the game.”

Hollywood is now streaming on Netflix.

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