Darren Criss (‘Versace’) would be second youngest Best Movie/Mini Actor Emmy winner

Darren Criss barely looks like he’s aged a day since “Glee,” but the “Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” star is 31 years old — definitely not old, but not a whippersnapper either. But if he takes home the Emmy for Best Limited Series/TV Movie Actor, he’d be the second youngest to prevail in the category.

Criss wouldn’t come close to dethroning the youngest winner, Anthony Murphy, who was 17 when he won for “Tom Brown’s Schooldays” in 1973. It was Murphy’s first and only acting role; he’s now a painter. No one has won the category in their 20s. Eleven people have won in their 30s, including reigning champ Riz Ahmed (“The Night Of”), who was 34. Criss would bump down Peter Strauss (“The Jericho Mile”) and Powers Boothe (“Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones”), who were both 32 when they won in 1979 and 1980, respectively.

SEE Watch out, Darren Criss (‘Versace’)! The Emmy frontrunner could be upset by Benedict Cumberbatch (‘Patrick Melrose’)

Not unlike the Oscars, the Emmys favor older actors, and one-off programs like miniseries and TV movies tend to attract or are written for veterans or established stars. Most limited series/TV movie actor champs are middle-aged or older.

Criss has been sitting pretty atop our predictions for his turn as Andrew Cunanan, who was 27 when he went on his cross-country murder spree, culminating with the killing of Gianni Versace. It’s a haunting, unnerving performance that’s a complete 180 from Blaine Anderson, but could age bias — not to mention the “Slap the Stud” syndrome — hurt him? In 2014, his fellow Ryan Murphy player Matt Bomer, then 36, was favored to win for his supporting turn in “The Normal Heart,” but was upset by Martin Freeman, then 42, for “Sherlock: His Last Vow.”

SEE Darren Criss (‘Assassination of Gianni Versace’): Andrew Cunanan being so enigmatic was ‘a safety net’ [Complete Interview Transcript]

That same year, Freeman’s co-star Benedict Cumberbatch, then 38, won in lead. Cumberbatch is back in the hunt this year for “Patrick Melrose” and has risen to fourth in our predictions, with multiple Experts, Editors and Top 24 Users picking his performance as the title character, a suicidal drug addict, to triumph.

But maybe Ahmed’s victory last year — over the likes of Cumberbatch, Robert De Niro, Geoffrey Rush, Ewan McGregor and John Turturro — will usher in a new era of younger actors claiming Emmy gold. They’re no less deserving than older and/or bold-named stars. In fact, if all goes as predicted, Criss wouldn’t even be the youngest nominee in the category: Michael B. Jordan (“Fahrenheit 451”), currently in fifth place, is four days younger than him.

PREDICT the Emmy nominees and winners now; change them until July 12

And now we move from film to television awards! Be sure to make your Emmy predictions today so that Hollywood insiders can see how their TV shows and performers are faring in our odds. You can keep changing your predictions as often as you like until just before nominees are announced on July 12. And join in the fun debate over the 2018 Emmy taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our television forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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