Daniel Minahan (‘Assassination of Gianni Versace’ director/producer): ‘I felt so strongly about this material’ [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

Daniel Minahan received his first Emmy nomination last year, as an executive producer of Best Drama Series nominee “House of Cards,” but he forfeited his position as the in-house director of that Netflix political thriller, now going into its final season, to be lead director on “The Assassination of Gianni Versace.” “I felt so strongly about this material,” Minahan explains in an interview with Gold Derby (watch the exclusive video above).

“We touched on really important topics about what it was like to live in that time and how these people were all impacted by this one guy’s actions,” Minahan says about the 1990s-set second season of the true crime anthology series “American Crime Story” on FX from Ryan Murphy. Originally subtitled “Versace/Cunanan,” the ultimate subtitle “The Assassination of Gianni Versace” eschews explicit reference to its main character, a serial killer played by “Glee” actor Darren Criss. Minahan adds, “I don’t think you can really give those two characters parity; I don’t think it’s fair to honor Andrew Cunanan that way.”

Minahan is eligible for two Emmy nominations this year, both for “The Assassination of Gianni Versace:” Best Limited Series as an executive producer and Best Movie/Limited Directing. For the latter, instead of submitting the “exciting” season finale for consideration, he has entered the season’s fourth episode. Minahan justifies, “It’s very emotional; I feel like it’s the first episode in the series that really clearly states the theme and intention of the series.” Titled “House by the Lake,” it does not feature the Versace clan at all and is instead a character study and introduction of tragic recurring character David Madson, as played by newcomer Cody Fern.

“He was always incredibly prepared with something and also extremely willing to swing and experiment with whatever we put forward,” Minahan says about Fern, noting that his acting style “couldn’t be more different from Darren’s.” Minahan elaborates, “Darren comes to set and he’s jocular and he has a really great energy and he brings everybody up. His preparation — he doesn’t really wear it on his sleeve until the moment that you turn the camera on, but I think he likes to keep everybody entertained, but also kind of relaxed because of the intense nature of what we were doing.”

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