American Crime Story’s Fashionable Return


William DeMuria, Editor-in-Chief, Pop Culture Editor

Shortly before 9 a.m on July 15, 1997, Gianni Versace was shot on the steps of his Miami Beach mansion by spree killer Andrew Cunanan. Twenty years later, producer Ryan Murphy, who is best known for creating Glee, American Horror Story, and Feud, is bringing the story of Versace’s assassination to the silver screen on FX.

American Horror Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace is the second installment of FX’s critically acclaimed true crime anthology series. The show’s upcoming season will chronicle the highly-publicized murder of the Italian fashion designer, the life of his murderer prior to the assassination, and the toll it takes on his sister, Donatella Versace.

Unlike other series’, the show will unfold backwards, opening with Versace’s murder in a nine-minute sequence before segueing into the season’s main story. Contrasting most true-crime films and series, the show’s opening was actually shot at Versace’s Floridian mansion, and features the exact steps where he was shot. “The assassination was tough to shoot and we shot exactly on the step where he died,” said Murphy in regards to filming the show’s opening sequence.

Throughout the season, scenes filmed in the interior of the mansion will be shown as well, giving viewers an authentic look into the life of the famed fashion designer. “We were lucky enough to get in there and film that. That’s his bedroom, his closet he built. It is an amazing opportunity to be able to go in there,” said Murphy of filming inside the fashion icon’s actual home.

Aside from the fact that the show will retell the story of Gianni Versace’s death, Murphy hopes this project will reveal more significant aspects of the assassination to the audience. “It’s an interesting thing to examine, particularly with the president now and the world we live in. I thought it was topical and social, which a show at its best is,” Murphy stated in a Q&A at FX’S Television Critics Association press tour. Murphy continued by explaining that the word “assassination” is deliberately used in the season’s title, saying, “Assassination has a political overtone and denotes somebody talking a life to make a point.”

In typical Ryan Murphy-fashion, the producer has brought together a star-studded cast to play the season’s iconic roles. Academy Award winner Penelope Cruz is set to topline the installment as Gianni Versace’s sister, Donatella Versace, who has since taken over his company following his death. Additionally, Glee star Darren Criss, who has worked with Murphy in past projects, will reunite with the executive producer to take on the daring role of murderer Andrew Cunanan. Puerto Rican singer Ricky Martin will also be joining the cast as the fashion designer’s partner, and will be a key player as the season rolls out.

In the newly released trailer for the highly anticipated season, tensions run high as viewers take a glance into Verace’s glamorous life, in contrast to Cunanan’s life before his encounter with the Italian fashion designer. “You’re not better than me. We’re the same. The only difference is that you got lucky,” Criss narrates to audiences in the trailer, hinting at his malicious intentions.

The first season of American Crime Story, which centered on the 1994 O.J. Simpson trials, received critical acclaim, with critics praising the show’s acting, writing, and directing for its debut season. The People v. O.J. Simpson was nominated for 22 Primetime Emmy Awards, winning nine, including “Outstanding Limited Series.” Additionally, the season won the Golden Globe Awards for “Best Miniseries or Television Film” and “Best Actress—Miniseries or Television Film.”

Despite the upcoming season of American Crime Story having yet to premiere, Ryan Murphy is already in the process of developing the third season of the series, which is set to focus on Hurricane Katrina. Though the Katrina-centered season was originally intended to be American Crime Story’s second season, production delays forced the season to be postponed, therefore being replaced by The Assassination of Gianni Versace. The postponement of Katrina has left the casting of Annette Benning, Dennis Quaid, and Matthew Broderick in starring roles up in the air.

Tune in on Jan. 18 to gain insight into the tragedy that rocked the world of fashion. With the direction of Ryan Murphy, American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace is sure to feed your true crime addiction.