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Celebrities TV

John Travolta transforms into vicious gangster John Gotti for new role

Travolta

A new trailer has shown John Travolta as Gambino crime family boss John Gotti ahead of the first screenings of the biopic of the late mafia don, titled GOTTI.

Gotti was the head of the Gambino crime family in 1980s and 90s, going through three high-profile criminal trials – and being acquitted at each one, before he was finally snagged by police.

The project is directed by Kevin Connolly, and starring alongside Travolta and his wife Kelly Preston, who plays Gotti’s wife Victoria. As well as, Stacy Keach, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Spencer Lofranco, William DeMeo, Leo Rossi, and Victor Gojcaj.

The fact that Gotti will be making a sort of back-door entrance at the festival is less surprising, though, than the fact that the film exists at all. Since it was first announced in 2011, the project has gone through a quartet of directors; its IMDb page lists 44 producers, executive producers and co-producers; and just this past December, its future appeared in doubt when distributor Lionsgate Premiere pulled it from its release schedule just 10 days before it was set to hit theaters.

But Keya Morgan, an executive producer on the film who played a role in buying rights back from Lionsgate, promises that the wait will be worth it. “It’s a masterpiece. It’s one of the best mob movies I’ve seen in years,” he tells THR.

The saga began more than seven years ago when John Gotti Jr., turning down a reported offer from Sylvester Stallone, struck a deal with Marc Fiore for a movie about his father. Fiore had only one film credit to his name, a direct-to-video pic called One, Too, Many, starring John Melendez, better known to Howard Stern fans as “Stuttering John.” But he also had a partner, flush with cash, in Fay Devlin, a construction business magnate.

Lacking Hollywood connections, Fiore turned for help to Marty Ingels, the late comedian and husband of actress Shirley Jones, who managed to secure Fiore and Gotti a meeting with Travolta, who signed on.

Travolta became one of the few constants on the project as the inexperienced producers struggled to put the rest of the elements together. Nick Cassavetes (The Notebook) was first set to direct, but departed over what were variously described as scheduling problems and creative differences. Barry Levinson then boarded the project, bringing his Bugsy screenwriter James Toback to do rewrites. Captain America: The First Avenger’s Joe Johnston followed, with, finally, Entourage’s Kevin Connolly stepping in to helm the project.

Visiting Cannes in 2011, Fiore announced Al Pacino would join the cast as Gambino crime family underboss Neil Dellacroce — that role ultimately went to Stacy Keach. And he insisted Lindsay Lohan would play John Gotti Jr.’s wife, Kim — Megan Leonard plays that part in the finished film. And then there was a dust-up with Joe Pesci, who filed a $3 million suit against Fiori Films, claiming his role and salary had been cut after he put on 30 pounds to get into character.

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