The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story is retelling one of the most infamous murder sprees and subsequent manhunts in US history, but at the heart of it is a story about two men: fashion mogul Gianni Versace and his killer Andrew Cunanan. To tell those stories, Ryan Murphy cast Edgar Ramírez and Darren Criss.
For Criss, the project has been in the works for a long time. He said he first heard about it from Murphy when Murphy was working on the Scream Queens pilot more than three years ago. Since then, he had a chance to brush up on the case—and brush up he did. Criss is shedding the squeaky-clean TV image developed by playing Blaine on Glee and truly gets lost in the role—in the best way possible.
"It's an actor's dream and I'm very careful with saying that because this was a real person that had a very destructive and harmful affect on many people's lives and people who are still alive today, so I don't want to say that bringing somebody that monstrous to life is what makes it a dream, that's not it at all," he told E! News' Will Marfuggi at the premiere of the FX drama. "It's more of the larger variables of being able to explore so many colors within a person. Regardless of the horrible things that he committed, you have somebody that lives in so many different emotional places, and has such a rich and thick amount of clay to work with as an actor, to humanize, to really explore and having that kind of smorgasbord to work with as an actor is really, really a treat."
Criss deemed it one of the highlights of his career so far. While Murphy mentioned the project to Criss early on and basically had him locked in should the timing work out, Ramírez needed more convincing.
"I wanted to have a better understanding of where this story was going. And where the whole trajectory of the character and the rest of the characters were going. It's very difficult to know it just based on one episode or two episodes, so he was very understanding of my process and of course I'm going to be loyal to him forever because that's a thing that I really feel very grateful for," he told us.
As seen in the video above, Ramírez doesn't normally look like the slain fashion designer.
"It was very stark, the transformation. I've gone through transformations before, but my whole physique disappeared into this character," he said. "That was very interesting. Of course the first time you use prosthetics, as was my case, you never know if it's looking right or if it's looking, but I had Ryan and a lot of great people helping me and convincing me that it was looking OK."
Click play on the videos above for more.
The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story premieres Wednesday, Jan. 17 at 10 p.m. on FX.