Penelope Cruz is one versatile actress, but even she has to have some serious prep when it comes to taking on complex roles, like Donatella Versace. The Oscar winner will be playing the renowned fashion designer in the upcoming season of American Crime Story, which focuses on Gianni Versace's murder. From the behind-the-scenes photos we've seen on set, Cruz has an uncanny likeness to the fashion icon—when she's in costume. But when it came to saying her lines, the transformation wasn't as easy.
'I worked a lot with a dialogue coach to find the way that Donatella speaks, which is a little different from the way she spoke in the '90s,' Cruz told fellow actress Gwyneth Paltrow in her cover story for Interview magazine.
'The accent that she has, it's Italian with a very international flavor—very rock 'n' roll,' she added. '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, 43, also spoke 'a little bit' with Versace, 62, about portraying her to get a better sense of the character. 'I needed that conversation. I really hope that when she sees the show, she's going to be happy,' the actress said. Cruz is aware, however, that some moments in the show might make Versace uncomfortable, but she approached the role as respectfully as she could.
'I'm sure there are going to be scenes that are hard for her to watch, because it's a lot about the loss of her brother, which, of course, I have so much respect for," she continued. "I did it with all my love. From that place of devastation, she had to keep this company going in his honor. I don't know if she ever said this, but it was a way of keeping him alive.'
Although the casting seems like a match made in heaven, Cruz was skeptical when she learned she got the part. 'From the moment I got the call from Ryan Murphy, I thought, "Why did you think of me for that character? That's very … interesting,"' she told Paltrow.
'I know [Donatella] a little bit, and I really like her. I had a few questions about how he was going to handle her portrayal, but he's so classy, and he's very respectful to people,' she added. 'This is a delicate story, because I'm playing someone who is alive, someone who lost her brother in a horrible way, and someone who still misses him very much 20 years later.'
We'll finally be able to see Cruz as Versace when The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story airs in 2018. But that might not be the last we see of the actress on the small screen. Though Cruz said she's 'not used to the rhythm of doing television,' she's open to doing another TV series in the future. 'Why not?' she said. 'I would love to work with Ryan and his team again.'
Watch the first trailer for The Assassination of Giannni Versace below.