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May 16, 2018

In May Emmy Magazine Ryan Murphy Talks Casting of The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story and Why Darren Criss Was Preordained for His Role

The role of serial killer Andrew Cunanan in season two of the FX anthology series American Crime Story was more than a challenge for actor Darren Criss— in a sense, it was his destiny. In the latest issue of emmy magazine, the series' creator Ryan Murphy describes how Criss and the rest of the hand-picked, all-star cast embodied the real-life characters in The Assassination of Gianni Versace.

The award-winning official publication of the Television Academy hits newsstands May 22.

In the emmy cover story "American Tragedy," Murphy shares his fascination with Gianni Versace and how the murder of the renowned fashion designer became the focus of the highly anticipated second season of the popular anthology. Murphy took great care to ensure the project was as authentic as possible, from gathering all related law-enforcement files as source material to casting appropriate actors in each role.

In Murphy's mind, Criss was destined to play Cunanan, who shared a similar Filipino-American heritage. "I didn't want to whitewash that part," says Murphy, aware of Hollywood's tendency to cast Caucasian performers in Asian roles. "I had been obsessed with the Cunanan and Versace story for years and years and years. And I remember when I first cast Darren on Glee back in 2010, just filing it in the back of my head. Like, 'Well, there's your Cunanan.'"

Filling out the ensemble cast, Murphy secured his preferred actors for each role—Édgar Ramírez as Versace; Penélope Cruz as the designer's sister, Donatella; and Ricky Martin as Versace's lover, Antonio D'Amico.

Martin and Cruz reached out to D'Amico and Donatella Versace, respectively, to help them approach their roles. In Martin's case, his conversations with D'Amico provided important social context and helped him better understand the LGBTQ experience in Versace's era.

"Gianni struggled with coming out because people were like, 'You're going to destroy your career,'" Martin says. "So it was a flashback to my reality, my story."
Additional feature highlights from the new issue include:

  • Executive producer Joel Fields (The Americans) reflects on the genius and generosity of the late, great Steven Bochco — creator of such iconic series as L.A. Law, Hill Street Blues and NYPD Blue — who passed away on April 1. In "What Would Steven Do?," Fields shares some of the lasting lessons he learned from the television legend and recounts several fond memories of his longtime mentor and friend.
  • In "Tapping the Source," Emmy Award-winning creator/executive producer Lena Waithe discusses the importance of increased opportunity for people of color in Hollywood as her Showtime series The Chi, set in Chicago's South Side where she grew up, prepares for its second season. 
  • The Netflix comedy GLOW, based on the real-life 1980s television program of the same name — an acronym for Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling — has become an unexpected tale of female empowerment. In "Glam Slam," actress Alison Brie speaks to emmy about what drew her to the show and the supportive environment on set that has contributed to its success. Season two of GLOW returns on June 29.

About emmy

Emmy, the official publication of the Television Academy, goes behind the scenes of the industry for a unique insider's view. It showcases the scope of television and profiles the people who make TV happen, from the stars of top shows to the pros behind the cameras, covering programming trends and advances in technology. Honored consistently for excellence, emmy is a six-time Maggie Award winner as Best Trade Publication in Communications or the Arts and has collected 52 Maggies from the Western Publishing Association. Emmy is available on selected newsstands and at for single print and digital copies as well as subscriptions.

Download the press release here.

For issue/coverage contacts:

Carla Schalman

Daina Rama

breakwhitelight for the Television Academy

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