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Penelope Cruz to Play Donatella Versace in Ryan Murphy’s FX ‘American Crime Story’

Penelope Cruz has signed on to play Donatella Versace in FX’s “Versace: American Crime Story,” the third installment of the anthology series from Ryan Murphy, Variety has learned.

Versace: American Crime Story” will explore the murder of Gianni Versace, who was killed on the steps of his home in Miami Beach by serial murderer Andrew Cunanan, who killed five people that year and then killed himself on a house boat, eight days after killing Versace.

Cruz joins previously announced stars Edgar Ramirez, who will play Gianni Versace, and Darren Criss, who will portray Cunanan.

American Crime Story” marks Cruz’s regular television debut, following a huge movie career. The Oscar-winning Spanish actress is known for films such as “Vanilla Sky,” “Blow,” “Volver,” “Vicky Cristina Barcelona.” She was the first Spanish actress to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and also the first to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress.

Cruz is the latest movie star to come on board to one of Murphy’s projects. The prolific producer has a track record for bringing A-listers onto his series from the likes of Jessica Lange (“American Horror Story”) to Susan Sarandon (“Feud”) to Catherine Zeta-Jones (“Feud”) to Julia Roberts (“The Normal Heart”).

When the “Versace” season was announced, tabloid rumors circulated of Lady Gaga playing Donatella. However, following those false reports, Murphy told Variety that the superstar singer — who collaborated with Murphy on “American Horror Story: Hotel” — would not be starring as Donatella, and she was never in talks to play the part. He told us, “When you’re going to do a show like Versace, it’s a five-month commitment, it’s a very big show, we’re shooting it all over the world. So I just don’t think with her schedule, I knew that it would never had worked. But I would love to work with her on something in the future.”

The Versace-centric season will be based on the book “Vulgar Favors” by Maureen Orth. Tom Rob Smith will write various episodes and exec produce with Murphy, Nina Jacobson, Brad Simpson, and Brad Falchuk. Fox 2 is the studio.

“Versace” begins production next month, but is not expected to air until 2018. The second season, which will center around the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, will also air in 2018, but before the “Versace” season.

Cruz is repped by CAA, Untitled Entertainment and Katrina Bayonas in Spain.

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