Why The Assassination of Gianni Versace Isn't Just About the Infamous Murder

American Crime Story writer and producers explain why the show isn't just about the fashion mogul's death

By Chris Harnick Jan 16, 2018 8:24 PMTags
Watch: "Versace" Writer Explains Focus of "American Crime Story"

Season two of American Crime Story, The Assassination of Gianni Versace, depicts just what the title says it does, but there's much more to the show besides Andrew Cunanan gunning down fashion visionary Gianni Versace.

"I think Versace is the great life force," The Assassination of Gianni Versace writer Tom Rob Smith told E! News at the 2018 TCA winter press tour. "This is a story about two people…both gay men and one grows up, navigates the pitfalls of homophobia, creates this enormous fashion empire…and someone else…who is equally brilliant, very clever young man, Andrew Cunanan, why does he grow up and achieve nothing? And is full of bitterness and decides that rather than create something is going to destroy things. The contrast between the creator and the destroyer is the central energy."

American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace: How the Cast Compares to Their Real-Life Counterparts

The series, which is executive produced by Smith, Ryan Murphy, Nina Jacobson, Brad Simpson, Brad Falchuk, Alexis Martin Woodall, Dan Minahan, Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, is based on Maureen Orth's book Vulgar Favors: Andrew Cunanan, Gianni Versace, and the Largest Failed Manhunt in US History.

Orth's book and the show, both of which have been the subject of not one, but two negative statements from the Versace family, feature Cunanan's other victims as well.

Random House Defends The Assassination of Gianni Versace's Source Material in Light of the Versace Family's Criticism
Watch: Ricky Martin & Darren Criss Discuss Homophobia in "Versace"

"We thought it was as important to spend the same amount of time with the less known victims as it was to the most famous victims," Simpson told us. "Versace weaves his way in and out of this story, I think in a great way, but the journey itself is the journey of this killer across the country as he murders people."

The sprawling cast includes Darren Criss as Cunanan, Édgar Ramírez as Versace, Penélope Cruz as Donatella Versace and Ricky Martin as Antonio D'Amico, many in roles viewers aren't used to seeing them in.

"Something at always fascinates me is people tend to forget—which is good for actors because it makes us look a lot more interesting than we actually are—people forget actors act. And that what you do for a living is be different people, and everything is a departure, at least in my mind…hopefully everything is a departure from the last thing," Criss told us about his eerie turn as the serial killer.

Click play on the videos above to hear more from producers and stars.

The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story premieres Wednesday, Jan. 17 at 10 p.m. on FX.