Tom Rob Smith Interview: ‘The Assassination of Gianni Versace’ writer
In the ninth and final episode of “The Assassination of Gianni Versace,” Versace’s partner Antonio D’Amico (played by Ricky Martin) attempts suicide. The media widely reported this as a moment of artistic license for the second season of the true crime anthology series, but head writer and executive producer Tom Rob Smith exclusively reveals to Gold Derby (watch the interview above), “That was relayed to us directly.” He further explains that “Ricky and Antonio have been speaking” and “Antonio told him that happened, so it’s not creative license.” D’Amico has never spoken publicly about having attempted suicide, but Smith says that D’Amico gave “quite a lot of feedback” to the team behind the limited series.
Smith is currently nominated for two Emmys: Best Limited Series and Best Movie/Limited Writing. He accepted the award for Best Movie or Miniseries from the Television Critics Association last weekend. “It was lovely just to say thank you to the critics for helping people to the show,” Smith recounts. “We knew going in that it’s very different to season one; we also knew that you need to stick with it to get to what it was as a show, that the first episode didn’t reveal everything about it as a show.”
Having critics to guide the audience was especially important for “The Assassination of Gianni Versace,” as its first eight episodes are presented in reverse chronological order. “It wasn’t that we had decided beforehand,” says Smith about the narrative structure. “We were very clear we had to start with the murder of Versace because no one knew anything else about the story, so you just start with a point of familiarity and you go on this journey.” Smith reveals that the plan had been to tell the story chronologically after the debut episode established where it would lead. “We actually wrote an episode where we jump back to the beginning,” Smith says, adding that they scrapped it because “it was just this strange whiplash” to go from 1997 Miami in the first episode to 1989 San Diego in the second. He elaborates, “There wasn’t a sense of the episodes working together, whereas when you go backwards all the way, you felt like you were uncovering bit by bit what was happening and even though it’s an unusual device, it felt much more natural.”