TODAY   |  October 04, 2013

Gina Gershon ‘bites into’ her role as Donatella Versace

The actress discusses the intense transformations she underwent, from a harsh accent to a smoking habit, in order to convincingly portray powerhouse fashionista Donatella Versace in an Lifetime biodrama.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> gina gershon is getting buzz for her transformation into one of the world's most powerful designers. critics saying she's the perfect fit .

>> she plays versace in "house of versace ." a role filled with a lot of drama. take a look.

>> that sleeve took two days to figure out.

>> but i love it. perfect.

>> you two deserve each other.

>> we give away more couture gowns than we sell. do you have any idea what it costs?

>> do you have any idea how much free publicity we get when they wear versace ?

>> oh.

>> and that's just the beginning.

>> hello.

>> it is so nice to have you with us.

>> thank you.

>> and you bite into this role and you don't let go with those.

>> the ones behind us, how did you capture her? because she has such a distinctive look, the lips, all of it.

>> you know, her face, you know -- it's movie magic. almost like taking a painting and you just see where the lights go and the darks go.

>> you're fine featured in person -- did you use a little something, cotton under the lip to get that?

>> i kind of pulled my face back and you change the plains. my cheekbones are different than hers. at some point i was using stuff under my mouth. sometimes she doesn't use her lip and i'm like --

>> she's always sucking on something.

>> a cigarette.

>> you're killing me.

>> or a glass of wine.

>> did you have to get in character with the cigarettes and the whole --

>> i'm not a real smoker. i'm one of those annoying smokers with a te kequila or something. i was up to two packs a day. you can't do it --

>> i've been to the versace mansion where johnny was killed and it's --

>> incredible.

>> it's incredible how that all. you don't dwell on that. you dwell on how much the death of johnny who you had a love/hate relationship, real sibling rivalry at its most shakespearean, almost. and you add all of the empire on your beautiful shoulders.

>> it's so tragic. i think we think about donatello at and mya doing her on snl. she's had this look as long as we've known her. but the thing that was so interesting when i read the book and the script, there was so much about this woman that i really didn't know and i didn't understand how the family worked.

>> what family --

>> what did you learn about her you didn't expect to learn?

>> well, you have to -- i didn't quite realize. you know, she really comes from that strong southern italian family. they're tight. they might as well have been married if they were brother and sister. and it was the three of them that created the empire. the mother was a seamstress and made beautiful dresses. it was a close knit family. and she was kind of her own person and johnny basically pulled her in and then when he went, everyone's looking at her. and she never really ran the company. she certainly had her ideas and had her style ideas. which is slightly different.

>> have you heard from her since this movie's come out?

>> no, i've never met her, never heard from that.

>> it was supposedly not with her blessing.

>> it's tough on her with her addictions and stuff.

>> she's an open person about everything. she's so funny. i can only imagine watching. every time i'd be doing something, i'd hear her in my head going, oh, are you kidding me? look at those arms. i'm like, i'm trying.

>> the accent --

>> you were great.

>> it was fun to see raquel welch too.

>> oh, my gosh. she looked so hot. and she walks in and you're like, oh, my gosh. she's amazing. i love her.

>> it's such a terrific movie. a lot of fun.

>> it premieres tomorrow night on lifetime.

>> tune in.

>> that's right.