American Crime Story Brad Simpson revealed during the FX session of American Crime Story:The Assassination of Gianni Versace that actor Edgar Ramirez “didn’t give us an immediate ‘Yes'” when it came to playing the title role of the late Italian designer.
“I loved being in a room that’s interesting with an actor and he says come back to me with another script,” said EP Ryan Murphy, “I said ‘What?'”
Then Murphy stopped twisting Ramirez’s elbow, who was also present at this afternoon’s session.
“I love Edgar’s process, it’s a questioning one. It formed me to go deeper as a director. I remember when I got Edgar to say ‘Yes’, he asked me ‘Why do you want to tell this story?’ I told him that I really understand these characters like Versace, I understand what it is to be hunted. That unlocked something in Edgar. He understood the pain he had to go through (as an actor).”
However, The Assassination of Gianni Versace is not all about Versace as it follows serial killer Andrew Cunanan and the victims he disgraced.
“It was the largest FBI fail of all-time,” asserted EP Tom Rob Smith.
“We wanted to explore between Versace and Cunanan the story of a creator, who is an authentic, honest person drawing on his history, heritage and family and creating from the inside out and another person who goes on a path of destruction because he’s on the outside without the work or the talent, and can’t tell the truth about who he is,” said EP Nina Jacobson.
“It was a political murder. This was a person who specifically went out of his way to shame and out people,” said Murphy about Cunanan, “He was having a form of payback for a life he could not live.” In addition to Versace, some of Cunanan’s victims include Chicago real estate developer Lee Miglin and architect David Madison, who actually was the murderer’s lover.
“When you plot to kill and expose people, that’s an assassination. And that’s why it was so important for us to include that in the title,” said Murphy. At one point the EPs considered putting Cunanan’s name in the title, but opted against it as they wanted to avoid glamorizing him.
After watching Darren Criss on Glee, viewers will be gobsmacked at the 180 he takes in portraying the slithery Cunanan. What’s affecting the actor is the fact that after 20 years, the real victims both on and off screen in American Crime Story have to relieve it. “That weighs heavily on me,” says the actor. Added series consultant Maureen Orth, whose book Vulgar Favors: Andrew Cunanan, Gianni Versace, and the Largest Failed Manhunt in U.S. History is the source material for the second season, “I don’t think his (Versace’s) family is excited about the story being told.”
Commenting on the thrulines between the seasons of American Crime Story, Murphy mentioned again how the series will deconstruct major crimes that went beyond its victims and impacted society. Sexism and racism were the themes in The People v. O.J. Simpson which still were pertinent to today. In Versace “the homophobia of the day is topical” mentioned Murphy were as his next iteration of American Crime Story, Katrina tackles the medical conditions and global warming in our country and when they collide “who has the right to decide who lives and dies,” said Murphy.
Said Murphy, “Every season of this show will have a different tonality.”