Writer-producer Tom Rob Smith on ‘The Assassination of Gianni Versace’

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The ‘Assassination of Gianni Versace,’ the newest installment in the FX anthology series American Crime Story, begins with the 1997 murder of the Italian fashion mogul on the steps of his Miami Beach mansion.

The series then goes back in time, tracing killer Andrew Cunanan’s life, including the 3-month spree in which he murdered four men before turning his gun on Versace.

All nine episodes in the series were written by our guest today, Tom Rob Smith. At one point, early in the series, Smith posits a situation in which Cunanan, played by Darren Criss, meets Versace, played by Edgar Ramirez, a few years before the shooting at a San Francisco nightclub, and then later at an opera where Versace designed the costumes.

The series, and those possible meetings, are based on the book ‘Vulgar Favors’ by journalist Maureen Orth. The Versace family was angered by Orth’s account so it’s not surprising that they have also slammed Smith’s television adaptation.

Smith talks about the challenges of writing about real people and addresses some of the family’s points of contention, including the decision to portray Versace at HIV positive.

Smith is a prolific writer, whose novels include ‘Child 44,’ which was adapted into a movie. He also wrote the stylish five-part BBC thriller, ‘London Spy.’

That series, and much of Smith’s oeuvre, is centered around a gruesome homicide. While Smith didn’t set out to be the go-to writer for murder, he explains why has proven to be a compelling subject and an interesting mechanism for exploring society.




Kim Masters


Kaitlin Parker