“I want to be the joy to people through my work,” Gianni Versace was once famously quoted. It's a sentiment profoundly shared by Venezuelan actor Edgar Ramirez, who brilliantly transformed himself into the famous Italian fashion designer on Ryan Murphy’s The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.
The FX series, which explores the murder of Versace by serial killer Andrew Cunanan (played by Darren Criss) in 1997, received 18 Emmy nominations, the most of any limited series this year. Ramirez, along with Ricky Martin and Penelope Cruz, are all nominated in the best supporting acting categories for a limited series or movie. This is Ramirez’s second Emmy nomination.
The 41-year-old actor, who once played the Greek god of war Ares in Wrath of the Titans, gained 20 pounds for the role, but explains that after reading the script he knew he was in “for a very transformative ride.”
“In the beginning, I was very scared and nervous because I had never used prosthetics,” Ramirez tells ET exclusively. “I had a lot of reservations, but Ryan Murphy calmed me down a lot.”
His fears finally dissipated after an encounter with Martin, who plays Versace’s lover, Antonio D’Amico, in the 10-episode show.
“One day, Ricky was doing his costume fitting and I was doing my last makeup test. So, I messaged him and asked him if he was in the lot. He replied that he was, so I said, ‘Stay where you are. I need to show you something,’” Ramirez recalls.
“I entered the room [in full wardrobe and makeup] and I said, ‘Hi.’ Ricky saw me and started crying. And, I thought, ‘OK, we’re good,’” he continues. “Ricky said, ‘Oh my god, I can’t believe it. It’s like I’m seeing Gianni.’ It had a very calming effect on me.”
After that moment, Ramirez says he truly felt like he was able to personify Versace “many times, fortunately.”
“There’s a scene where I make a dress with Donatella, Penelope, and that scene was so effortless,” Ramirez shares. “It was so intimate, I even forgot where the camera was. It’s beautiful when that happens. We were so into the characters at that point. It happened other times, but that’s the one I remember the most.”
“There was a moment during a scene where I looked at her, and I’ve said this publicly and privately before to her, but I discovered Gianni in her eyes and in Ricky’s eyes,” he explains.
Ramirez goes on to describe Versace as “the sun of his galaxy, his universe.” The Italian designer was killed at the age of 51 and according to the Point Break star, Versace’s fear was not being able to provide for his family after death.
“I think his greatest fear was...what happens if I go away and I don't leave the [family] ready?” he shares. “When we got to that dynamic, when he was preparing Donatella to succeed, it was that process of knowing the clock was ticking. The fact that he was running against time to get things ready, he started to be so nervous and so bitter to the people that he loved the most.”
“This is a career highlight for me,” he says. “I hope the people that were close to Gianni and Donatella Versace will feel respected [after watching the show]. We can all relate to that love and that fear of losing our loved ones.”
For more on The Assassination of Gianni Versace, watch the video below.
Ricky Martin Says Portraying Gianni Versace's Partner in 'ACS' Was 'Very Dark at Times' (Exclusive)
Penelope Cruz Shares How She Relates Most to Donatella Versace and Her Family
Darren Criss Excited For People To 'Scrutinize the Hell Out Of' Versace Role (Exclusive)