Gianni Versace, American Crime Story: Drama about murder revives fascination with fashion icon's death

Versace was shot dead by Andrew Cunanan on the steps of his Miami Beach home on 15 July 1997

Clarisse Loughrey@clarisselou
Thursday 18 January 2018 09:43
Assassination of Gianni Versace trailer

With The People v. O.J. Simpson having gripped the nation, American Crime Story returns to US screens.

The anthology series now turns its narrative eye towards the murder of famed fashion designer Gianni Versace, who was shot and killed on the steps of his Miami Beach mansion on the 15 July 1997, as he returned from a morning walk on Ocean Drive.

The man who pulled the trigger was one Andrew Cunanan, who killed five people in the span of only three months. The spree ended on 23 July, when Cunanan took his own life on a houseboat, utilising the same gun that had killed Versace.

The FX series, executive produced by American Horror Story's Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, specifically takes its basis from Maureen Orth's book in the subject, Vulgar Favours: Andrew Cunanan, Gianni Versace, and the Largest Failed Manhunt in U.S. History.

A book that's attracted its own fair share of controversy, with the Versace family twice condemning the show: clarifying they had no involvement in its creation, stating the show should be considered only as "a work of fiction", while condemning Orth's book as "full of gossip and speculation".

"Orth never received any information from the Versace family and she has no basis to make claims about the intimate personal life of Gianni Versace or other family members," the initial statement continued. "Instead, in her effort to create a sensational story, she presents second-hand hearsay that is full of contradictions.”

Veracity is unlikely to stop the popularity of The Assassination of Gianni Versace in its tracks, however; like its predecessor, this season has collected a glittering cast of stars, clearly hoping to amp up the more glamorous aspects of the story.

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Édgar Ramirez stars as Versace himself, with Glee star Darren Criss as Cunanan; Ricky Martin plays Antonio D'Amico, who was Versace's boyfriend at the time, with Penélope Cruz as the victim's sister, Donatella Versace. The show also features appearances from Annaleigh Ashford, Max Greenfield, Judith Light, and Finn Wittrock.

The season's been warmly received by critics: The Guardian's Jake Nevins calls it "thrilling, macabre, deliciously campy television", The Hollywood Reporter's Daniel Fienberg praised it as a "disturbing character study and an assortment of strong performances", although The Los Angeles Times' Lorraine Ali did suggest it's "sometimes too dark and brutal in its re-creation of the murders".

The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story consists of 9 episodes in total. The next airs in the US on FX on 24 January. The show will air on BBC Two at a later date, although this is yet to be announced.

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