Prior to stepping into Donatella Versace‘s stilettos for the latest season of American Crime Story, Penélope Cruz noted how important it was to get the Italian fashion designer seal of approval.

“I talked to Donatella on the phone. In a way I needed her blessing to do it, because I respect her a lot,” the 44-year-old actress revealed to the Sydney Morning Herald. “She said if someone was going to do it, she was happy it was me. I wanted to show the side of her I knew, the vulnerability and kindness, and the sense of humor she has about herself.”

'American Crime Story' cast Darren Criss, Penélope Cruz, Edgar Ramirez, and Ricky Martin
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Having worn Versace in the past, Penélope had already established a relationship with the style icon. That connection likely made it easier for Donatella to agree to let the Oscar winner take on the part. After all, the 66-year-old would be depicted during one of the most tragic events she has ever experienced: the 1997 murder of her brother, Gianni Versace.

For the role, Penélope earned a slew of nominations — including at the Golden Globes, at the Emmys (her first-ever recognition from them), and at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. She also got to work alongside the likes of Darren Criss, Edgar Ramirez and Ricky Martin in the Ryan Murphy series which was considered a hit by fans and critics alike.

Gianni Versace and Donatella Versace
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Despite knowing Donatella in real the real world, Penélope explained that she isn’t one to bring her characters home because “that’s not healthy” and “it doesn’t make your performance better.” Getting older, she explains, has taught her to value acting as a game of imagination.

As for her own outlook on clothing, Penélope said she adores it but isn’t a diva about it all.

“I love fashion,” the mother-of-two also told the publication,” but I minimize the fittings — I’m very practical in that way. I’ll have seen things before in pictures or in sketches. I’m lucky: I get to work with amazing designers. They know what they’re doing, and I know what I like.”