Edgar Ramirez on Finding Gianni Versace Through the Eyes of Ricky Martin and Penelope Cruz (Exclusive)

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Edgar Ramirez at The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
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“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.”

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Beyond the hideous crimes and the unjustifiable homophobia underlaying at their very core, The Assassination of Gianni Versace was also a story about families. Families that couldn’t overcome their frustrations and shortcomings and ended up hurting and damaging each other...and also Families that stuck together and protected each other when life was throwing punches at them from all angles. The one thing I can attest for sure after having had the the privilege of portraying Gianni Versace, is that “family was everything” for him. So today, on this joyous day, I celebrate sharing the honor of this nomination with all of these indescribably talented artists who, more than the dearest of friends, are now my own family. Thank you all and congratulations for such an amazing work. 18 #Emmy Nominations, wow! Thank you so much @televisionacad for this honorable recognition! I am so proud of my family! #emmyawards #acsversace 🇪🇸 Más allá de los horrendos crímenes y la injustificable homofobia subyacente en ellos, el asesinato de Gianni Versace también es una historia de familias. Familias que fueron incapaces de superar sus frustraciones y carencias y terminaron lastimándose y dañándose unos a otros ... y familias que se mantuvieron unidas y se protegieron mutuamente cuando la vida les golpeaba desde todos los frentes. Lo único que puedo asegurar después de tener el el privilegio de interpretar a Gianni Versace, es que "la familia lo era todo" para él. Así que en este día feliz, celebro enormemente compartir el honor de esta nominación con todos estos artistas de talento indescriptible que hoy, más que entrañables amigos, son mi familia. Gracias a todos y felicidades por este maravilloso trabajo. 19 nominaciones a los Emmy, ¡guau! ¡Qué orgulloso estoy de mi familia! Muchas ¡Los quiero muchísimo a todos!

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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.

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“For me, family is everything” Gianni Versace Thank you so much to my #acsversacemakeupdept family for making magic every morning of some of the best days of my life. #acsversace was way more than an amazing work project, it was a life altering experience that I will always cherish. Thank you all for taking such good care of me, for passing so much love and support every time you touched my skin during those long but fascinating hours of hard work and utmost creativity. I love you all so much! • 🇪🇸 "Para mí, la familia es todo" Gianni Versace Muchas gracias a mi familia #acsversacemakeupdept por hacer magia todas las mañanas de algunos de los mejores días de mi vida. #acsversace fue mucho más que un increíble proyecto de trabajo, fue una experiencia que me cambió la vida y que siempre atesoraré. Gracias a todos por cuidarme tanto, por haberme transmitido tanto amor y apoyo cada vez que me tocaban la piel durante esas largas pero fascinantes horas de trabajo duro y creatividad al máximo. ¡L@s quiero mucho a tod@s! @makeuphag @mikemekash @robinbeauchesne @wigorama @silviknight @afxstudio • @americancrimestoryfx @fxnetworks @canalfxbrasil @canalfx [🎶 STORM by Antonio Vivaldi, performed by Vanessa Mae]

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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.

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