Playing Famous: New TV Projects Find Actors Channeling Real-Life Notables

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The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story - Penélope Cruz as Donatella Versace
Jeff Daly/FX

Penélope Cruz as Donatella Versace The Oscar-winning Spanish actress worked with a dialect coach to capture the designer’s Italian accent on The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story (Jan. 17, 10/9c, FX).

Unsolved - Wavyy Jonez as Christopher 'Biggie' Wallace, Marcc Rose as Tupac Shakur
James Minchin III/USA Network

Marcc Rose as Tupac Shakur Rose (right) previously portrayed the late hip-hop artist in 2015’s Straight Outta Compton, not that it made his turn in Unsolved:
The Murders of Tupac and The Notorious B.I.G>
(Feb. 27, 10/9c, USA) any easier. Says Rose, “This comes with all the pressures in the world.”

Pablo Picasso - Antonio Banderas
Dusan Martincek/National Geographic

Antonio Banderas as Pablo Picasso For Season 2 of Nat Geo’s anthology series Genius (April 24, 9/8c), Banderas transforms into the 20th century abstract painter. One thing they already have in common: Both hail from the same Spanish city, Málaga!

John Legend attends the LDF 31th National Equal Justice Awards Dinner
Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.

John Legend as Jesus The R&B crooner changes his tune to sing and dance as the Son of God in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert! (April 1, NBC). Rocker Alice Cooper plays the evil King Herod.

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Let’s get real. That seems to be the mantra for the slew of actors headlining upcoming biographical projects over the next few months.

Click through the gallery above for a look at who’s channeling whom in Spring 2018.