It’s not easy playing a fashion icon like Donatella Versace. Just ask Penelope Cruz

Penelope Cruz
Penelope Cruz

Playing a fictional character is one thing, but it’s quite another to play a real person (who is still very much alive).

That’s the challenge Penelope Cruz faced when she was offered the role of Donatella Versace in FX’s “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” miniseries, airing 10 p.m. Wednesdays.

The Spaniard, 43, had her doubts about taking on Donatella, the designing superstar and brother of slain fashion icon Gianni Versace. Donatella is Italian, and the accent and tone were a little tough.

“No one speaks like her. She has such a strong personality,”  Cruz recently told the Today show. “Finding the voice was the basis of everything. I had to find that first. Until the day I found it, I didn’t feel like I was able to capture the essence of this woman.”

Estrenos internacionales! ESPAÑA 21 de Marzo en Netflix CANADA Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT beginning January 17 on FX. @FX_Canada NEW ZEALAND Thursdays at 9.30pm NZT beginning January 18, only on SoHo. LATIN AMERICA @CanalFX_la #ACSVersaceEnFX BRAZIL – @CanalFX_br #ACSnoFX Launches Thursday, January 18th – solo en FX. ITALY FOX Crime beginning Friday January 19th at 21:05pm @foxtvit @foxcrimeit FRANCE Coming soon on CANAL+ in France @seriescanalplus @CANAL_France

A post shared by Penélope Cruz (@penelopecruzoficial) on Jan 19, 2018 at 1:33am PST

The two women have met before, so that was a help.

“I called her before I did the show,” Cruz  continued. “She told me that if someone is going to play her, she’s happy it’s going to be me. I felt like her. I did so much research on everything she wore in the ’80s and ’90s. She has such personal style. Everything is so well put-together. I wanted to honor her. I felt comfortable.”

As for how much time Cruz spent in the Magic City? Not much. She admitted to “Today” that she shot in Miami at mostly Versace’s old mansion, Casa Casuarina, for just one week, and a month in L.A.

Today is the day!!!!! #Repost @americancrimestoryfx ・・・ She had to stand strong. The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story premieres 1/17 on FX. #fx #donatellaversace

A post shared by Penélope Cruz (@penelopecruzoficial) on Jan 17, 2018 at 5:05am PST