Today sees the much-anticipated premiere of The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story – brought to you by Ryan Murphy of The People vs. O.J. Simpson, Scream Queens, and Feud: Bette and Joan fame – and the production has been mired in controversy before it even aired. The series is based on the 1999 book Vulgar Favors: Andrew Cunanan, Gianni Versace, and the Largest Failed Manhunt in U.S. History by Maureen Orth and centers on the tragic murder of Gianni Versace by spree killer Andrew Cunanan, a subject that has long been a fascination for the public.
At the time of his death, Versace was one of the most renowned designers in the world, and his influence is still strongly felt within the industry. In fact, a lot of fashion lovers are anticipating this show for a chance to catch a glimpse of real archival Versace designs. While this season of American Crime Story faithfully hews to Orth’s heavily researched book, the Versace family has come out strongly against the series.
In a statement to the press, the family said, “The Versace family has not authorized nor has it in any way been involved in the TV series dedicated to the death of Gianni Versace. Since Versace has not authorized the book from which it is partially drawn and has not taken part in writing the script, this TV series must be considered a work of fiction.” His sister Donatella Versace has bluntly stated that she has no plans to watch the show. From the living room to the corporate water cooler, American Crime Story is sure to dominate conversations this week, so get to know the who’s who of the show, below.
Playing Donatella Versace
For American Crime Story, Penelope Cruz is tasked with playing Donatella Versace, a now-iconic designer who was trying to establish herself in the family business at the time of her brother’s death. In stills from the show, Cruz is utterly transformed with platinum-blonde locks, and the custom Versace recreations and archival looks that she dons for her performance are in a league of their own.
Playing Gianni Versace
The always-handsome and affable actor Édgar Ramirez also underwent a tremendous transformation in order to play the famed Italian couturier Gianni Versace. Ramirez packed on 20 pounds for the role in the most Italian way possible: by eating heaping plates of pasta. He plays Versace with sensitivity and panache, capturing both his softer side and his love of the glamorous life.
Playing Antonio D'Amico
Ricky Martin plays Antonio D’Amico, the model and designer who found Gianni Versace’s body, even though the real D’Amico has come forward to criticize the production.
Playing Andrew Cunanan
You might recognize Darren Criss from his role as Blaine Anderson on Glee, another Ryan Murphy production. In American Crime Story, he is tasked with playing the bad guy, a serial killer named Andrew Cunanan who went on a murderous spree that resulted in the death of Gianni Versace, Chicago tycoon Lee Miglin, and three other individuals before taking his own life.
Promo Photo: Courtesy of Entertainment Weekly