In the weeks leading up to its premiere,
Versace was publicly criticized by its subjects for being eons away from reality. The entire Versace family released a statement in claiming the show is a "work of fiction." Antonio D'Amico, Versace's partner of 15 years, said there hasn't been a "trace of reality" in any coverage of Versace's murder, including the show.
But there's one respect in which
ACS cannot be critiqued: The casting. Each actor bears an uncanny resemblance to their subject. And since chunks of the show are filmed in Versace's mansion, you could almost, just almost, think what you were watching was a complete reenactment. Here's how each actor compares to his or her counterpart.
Darren Criss as Andrew Cunanan
Likely, you’re familiar with Criss from his work as Blaine Anderson on Ryan Murphy’s
, less obviously dark show,
. You’ve certainly never seen Criss this chilling. For one, Criss shares an uncanny resemblance with serial murderer Andrew Cunanan. Like Cunanan, Criss is half Filipino.
Mostly, though, Criss is just
. Perhaps we shouldn’t be so surprised by his jump from musical theater prodigy to serial killer embodier. Criss aims to surprise. “My goal in life in all respects is to keep people as off-kilter as possible,” he told
The Daily Beast
The real Andrew Cunanan At the age of 27, Andrew Cunanan killed Gianni Versace outside his Miami mansion. Versace was Cunanan's fifth victim in a span of only a few months.
Penelope Cruz as Donatella Versace
For Penelope Cruz, the role of Donatella Versace, Gianni Versace's sister and partner in running the fashion house, was a challenge. Cruz is a Spanish actress, and was tasked with playing an Italian woman who speaks English with an Italian
accent. She spent a long time working on capturing Versace's particular cadence. "The accent that she has, it’s Italian with a very international flavor — very rock ’n’ roll," she told
. "I didn’t want to do an imitation of Donatella, or a caricature. I wanted to try to capture the essence of who she is."
Cruz only took the role after speaking with Donatella. "She told me if somebody was going to do it, she was really happy that it was me, because she I think she knows what I feel for her and Gianni," Cruz said on
The Ellen DeGeneres Show
Photo by Dave Allocca/DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)=
The real Donatella Versace
Though Donatella Versace signed off on having Penelope Cruz play her, she was far less supportive of the show at large.
Versace called American Crime Story "a work of fiction"
in an interview with the Italian newspaper
The entire family joined Donatella in her critique, and posted their
official statement on Page Six
. "The Versace family has neither authorized nor had any involvement whatsoever in the forthcoming TV series about the death of Mr. Gianni Versace. Since Versace did not authorize the book on which it is partly based nor has it taken part in the writing of the screenplay, this TV series should only be considered as a work of fiction," the statement read.
Edgar Ramírez as Gianni Versace
Prior to becoming an actor, Edgar Ramírez was a
in Venezuela. In the past, he's appeared in
, and the unforgettable Netflix blockbuster experiment,
Ramírez fully inhabits the role of Gianni Versace — perhaps because he spent days imitating Versace's routine in his actual home, Casa Casaurina.
"I hope people will see Versace through my performance. I have discovered not only was he known for glamour, festivity, sexuality, hedonism, and pleasure—he was also very family-oriented. He was way more modest and focused than people would ever imagine," Ramírez told
The real Gianni Versace
Gianni Versace changed the fashion industry forever. He is partly credited with inventing the supermodel, because he cultivated working partnerships with his favorite models and spun them into stars. He was a pop culture icon as much as he was a fashion designer; A-list celebrities were in the front rows of all his shows. Thanks to him,
between celebrity and
celebrity became blurrier.
When he was murdered, he left behind an empire.
Ricky Martin as Antonio D'Amico
Anyone who has seen
knows that Ricky Martin can act. In the show, Martin plays Antonio D'Amico, Gianni Versace's partner of 15 years. Martin was actually in contact with D'Amico during filming.
“I had the opportunity to speak to Antonio a few months ago,” Martin told
. “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."
So, was D'Amico pleased? Read on.
Photo by Alberto Roveri/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images
The real Antonio D'Amico
D'Amico was Versace's partner of 15 years, and the first person to find Versace's body after he was shot. In an interview with
, he publicly disputed the manner in which that scene is portrayed in the show.“The picture of Ricky Martin holding the body in his arms is ridiculous. Maybe it’s the director’s poetic license, but that is not how I reacted," D'Amico
D'Amico also took issue with the way his relationship is portrayed. In the show, Ramírez as Versace tries to hide his sexuality. According to D'Amico, that was never the case. “We lived like a natural couple, there was never a problem...everyone involved in our world knew. He never tried to hide who he was.”
Currently, D'Amico lives in the northern Italian countryside with his partner.
Finn Wittrock as Jeff Trail After three seasons of American Horror Story, Wittrock is a seasoned member of the Ryan Murphy Cult. In American Crime Story, Wittrock plays Jeff Trail, a retired Navy lieutenant and one of Andrew Cunanan's first victims.
The real Jeff Trail Jeff Trail was a graduate of the Naval Academy at Annapolis, and served as a lieutenant in the Navy. He had considered Cunanan to be a friend. Trail died at the age of 28.
Cody Fern as David Madson American Crime Story: Versace is Australian actor Cody Fern's breakout role. Even if you've never seen him act before, you likely won't forget him after ACS. In the show, he plays Cunanan's former lover, David. They met years prior in San Francisco; now, David works as an architect in Minneapolis.
The real David Madson
At the time of his death, Madson's career was on an upward trajectory. He was an architect, and had already lectured at
. At the age of 33, Madson was killed by his ex-lover, Cunanan.
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