Judith Light on Role in 'The Assassination of Gianni Versace': "People Reacted to It So Explosively"

In conversation after her Emmy nomination, the actress discussed her character, fragrance entrepreneur Marilyn Miglin and her process for getting into the mindset of Miglin at a "painful" moment in her life.

Judith Light is no stranger to the Emmys stage, having previously been recognized twice for her daytime television work on the long-running soap opera One Life to Live. The acclaimed actress nevertheless says she's particularly excited to be nominated again this year for her turn on the FX drama The Assassination of Gianni Versace.

“To still be honored in this way and in such an incredibly expansive category [makes me] feel very much like I've won,” Light told The Hollywood Reporter.

The actress said she was surprised to receive a nomination for her role as fragrance entrepreneur Marilyn Miglin, though it didn't come as a surprise to her that Ryan Murphy's anthology series was honored. “[My original episode] kind of got set apart from the rest of the series in this very interesting way, and people reacted to it so explosively,” Light said.

The actress also told THR that she was only approached to do one episode but ended up being written into the season finale due to the positive public reaction. “I never expected that. People were really taken with it, and I think it came from watching that kind of sorrow and just that one moment of not holding it in anymore but letting it go,” she said.

Light avoided watching videos or seeking out an interview with Miglin as a way to protect the experience of the character and not create a caricature onscreen. “If you're creating somebody who has gone through this particularly painful episode of their life and is still probably there constantly, at some level, you don't treat that in a way that is offhanded,” she said.

Instead, her research process involved a deep dive of Andrew Cunanan’s serial killings prior to his assassination of designer Gianni Versace.

“I had no idea about who these people were. And I think that's what sort of shocked America,” said Light. “I think that's why so many people have taken to this particular crime story. You're talking about a serial killer, and you're also talking about what happened in the culture that kept him from being caught and more people being killed.”

Watch the video above to hear Light reveal which castmember she is most excited to dance with at the Emmys afterparties and how she convinced Murphy to push back her wardrobe fittings and more.