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Crime News

'The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story' Cast Vs. Their Real-Life Counterparts

Ryan Murphy has pulled together an incredible ensemble cast.

By Aly Vander Hayden
The Gianni Versace Case, Explained

“The Assassination of Gianni Versace,” the latest installment of Ryan Murphy’s “American Crime Story,” dives deep into the famous fashion mogul’s 1997 murder. Set in the neon paradise of Miami, Florida, the limited series explores the weeks that led up to Versace’s shocking slaying at the hands of serial killer Andrew Cunanan, and the tragic aftermath that followed.  

With an incredible ensemble cast, Murphy has been able to spotlight the nuances and complexities of the case’s main players. See how the season two actors compare to their real-life counterparts below.

1. Edgar Ramírez as Gianni Versace

[Photos: FX, Getty Images]

Edgar Ramírez did a lot of research for his role as Gianni Versace. Though Ramírez didn’t contact the Versace family directly, he told E! News, "I had access to people who were very close to Gianni who were generous enough to open up to me and share their experiences with him.”

Versace launched his fashion house in 1978 with the help of his two siblings, Donatella and Santo Versace. The designer, who made his first dress at age 9, was accredited with creating the world’s first “supermodels,” including Naomi Campbell and Cindy Crawford. He often threw lavish parties at his Miami mansion with celebrities like Madonna, Princess Diana and Elton John. Sadly, that same mansion is where the 50-year-old was shot to death by serial killer Andrew Cunanan.

2. Darren Criss as Andrew Cunanan

[Photos: FX, Getty Images]

Andrew Cunanan was “someone who had the potential to do so much more. How does that person become synonymous with something so sad, violent, or scary?” said Darren Criss of his character.

The “Glee” alum wanted to make sure he approached the role with compassion, telling Vanity Fair, “My heart is really sensitive to the people who experienced something so horrible that I’m trying to breathe life into.”

Cunanan was born to Filipino father and Italian-American mother in San Diego, California. As a teenager, Andrew had a genius-level IQ of 147, and a classmate said, “I thought he'd be a very successful businessman or maybe in …the fashion industry.” After dropping out of college, he became a “high-class” male prostitute in the gay communities of San Diego and San Francisco, according to his mother.

His killing spree started in April 1997 with a friend named Jeff Trail. His fifth and final victim was Gianni Versace, after which he killed himself.

3. Penélope Cruz as Donatella Versace

[Photos: FX, Getty Images]

Before the season two premier of “American Crime Story,” the Versace family issued an official statement disavowing the show, calling it “a work of fiction.”

The series itself is based on Vanity Fair journalist Maureen Orth’s nonfiction book, “Vulgar Favors: Andrew Cunanan, Gianni Versace, and the Largest Failed Manhunt in U.S. History,” which the family also repudiated.

“I spoke with Penélope,” Donatella said previously, explaining that she had no intention of watching the show. “She is a friend, she said she will treat me with respect — yes, but I don’t know what will be [shown], from a book that says incredible falsehoods.”

Murphy told The Hollywood Reporter, “I think that [Donatella Versace] really loves Penelope and knows that Penelope would never do anything to represent her in a negative light.”

When Gianni was murdered, his sister Donatella was made head designer of the fashion house.

Often referred to as Gianni’s muse, Donatella said in a 2008 interview, "I felt for a long time that I had this job because of a tragedy, not because I deserved it. I wanted to succeed for Gianni, because he cared so much for the company and I knew he would have wanted it to carry on.”

4. Ricky Martin as Antonio D’Amico

[Photos: FX, Getty Images]

Ricky Martin told Us Weekly that it was extremely “emotional” meeting Antonio D’Amico, who was Gianni Versace’s partner for 15 years before his death.

“I had tears and I was choking. We talked about the love he had for Gianni. That is something that I really want to bring out. There’s a lot of injustice, but love they had was indestructible,” he said.

Martin met with D’Amico after he criticized some behind-the-scenes photos of the series.

“The photo of Ricky Martin holding the body [of Versace] in his arms is ridiculous,” D’Amico said at the time.

Martin then reached out to D’Amico, telling him, “I said, ‘Antonio, listen, maybe you’ve seen a couple of paparazzi shots of the actual scenes that we’re shooting, but please don’t judge the quality of it just by one picture because it could easily be taken out of context. You have to see for yourself what we’re doing, and you’re going to be so pleased with everything.’”

When D’Amico heard the gunshots that killed Gianni, he immediately ran out the front door of the Miami mansion.

Antonio recalled, “I saw Gianni lying on the steps, with blood around him. At that point, everything went dark. I was pulled away, I didn’t see any more.”    

5. Mike Farrell as Lee Miglin

[Photos: FX, Getty Images]

Mike Farrell takes on role of Lee Miglin, a wealthy Chicago real estate mogul who lived in Chicago’s Gold Coast district. Miglin was Cunanan’s third victim, and his body was found wrapped in plastic under a car in his garage. His hands and feet were bound.

According to The New York Times, his body was riddled with stab wounds from pruning shears, and his throat had been slashed with a saw blade. After murdering Miglin, Cunanan stole his dark-green Lexus along with several of the dead man’s suits and a couple thousand dollars in cash.

The Miglin family has repeatedly denied that Miglin ever had a personal connection with Cunanan.

6. Judith Light as Marilyn Miglin

[Photos: FX, YouTube]

From her acclaimed roles in “Transparent,” “Ugly Betty” and “Law and Order: SVU,” Judith Light joins the “American Crime Story” cast as Marilyn Miglin, who was married to Lee Miglin for nearly 40 years until his death.

A former dancer, Marilyn founded a cosmetics and skincare empire at the Home Shopping Network. According to Vanity Fair, there’s even a Chicago shopping district named Marilyn Miglin Way, where her boutique faced Versace’s.

In an interview a year after Lee’s murder, she said, “I don't think you heal — you never close up that gaping wound — but you adjust. [...] I lived the life of a fairy princess and I had a prince for 38 years, and then one day my prince went to war and didn't come back.”

[Photos: FX, Getty Images]

Oxygen's upcoming special "Killing Versace: The Hunt For A Serial Killer" airs February 11 at 7/6c.