Earlier today, we posted some casting news from Nick Cassevetes’ upcoming crime-drama Gotti: Three Generations, based on the life of notorious New York crime-boss John Gotti, Sr., to be played by John Travolta. We now have a bit more from the press conference we attended this morning, which was an odd affair where Cassevetes, Travolta and John Gotti Jr. were buffered from the press by a large group of Gotti family and personal friends there to support the announcement of the project.
“This is probably the most interesting untold story in this country,” Travolta said when asked about why he wanted to get involved. “What a character to approach and understand. Meeting John Gotti, Jr. was one of the pleasures I’ve had that sent me over the top very recently. We had such a great evening together. We spent about five hours just discussing family and life and I got even more compelled to do this. Believe it or not, my favorite show is ‘Growing Up Gotti,’ I think I saw every episode.” Travolta then went on to cite one of his favorite episodes and he also mentioned sharing something in common with Gotti Sr. in that they both had lost sons.
“I believe that we’re pretty normal a family,” Gotti Jr. admitted when asked what may surprise people about them. “We really do the basic things that everybody else, that normal Americans do in their household. What they’re going to learn about my father and I is that it was a relationship basically where I for the most part raised in visiting booths in various prisons throughout the country, as were my siblings, but that was the life my father chose and he lived.” Travolta was surprised by Gotti’s “depth of commitment” to his family.
Cassevetes addressed how the movie would handle the “uglier side of things” such as the crimes and violence that has surrounded the family. “As a filmmaker, you do try to get things right, and I’m blessed on this project to have people with encyclopedic knowledge of the events that happened, and we’re going to make the movie and it’s going to have a lot of warts. Some people are going to look good, some people are going to look bad, most of them are going to look a little of both. In no way, shape or form have I run across any one thing that anyone has been afraid to tell me.”
“The vast majority of previous productions were basically from a journalistic or a government viewpoint, this is a little different,” Gotti stated when asked how Gotti: Three Generations would differ from previous crime movies and those specifically about his family. “This is something where we have the ability to talk about a father-son relationship and the common ground that we stood on, my Dad and I, which was the life that we lived. We start from the beginning and we walk through it, as accurately as possible, and there’s warts along the way.” The story covers 35 years from when Gotti Sr. was a very young man until his death in 2002.
“There’s one thing that’s very important,” Gotti went on, “Sometimes you hear people say, ‘John Gotti was a killer, John Gotti was a gangster.’ Yeah, he was, but he was also a man’s man, which is most important. He made a choice to be something in his life and he stood true to those convictions. He never one time deviated from that path, not once, and in the end, when he had an opportunity to say ‘uncle,’ he believed he was right, he stood his course and he suffered greatly. He paid for every sin he may or may not have committed, and that’s what I want everybody to understand. When I spoke to Nick, I said, ‘What’s most important to me at the end, when people walk away after watching this movie, they can draw their own conclusions, they can say, ‘John was a good guy, John was a bad guy, I liked him, I dislike him, but he most certainly paid for his sins like a man.'”
“Ultimately, at the end of the day, is it worth it?” Travolta asked. “You have to say that this is a lifestyle that people pay a high penalty for, and maybe at the end of the movie, maybe all you’ll get from it ‘Is it ultimately worth the paranoia and the fear and putting the family at risk?’ and all these interesting questions that you have to say, and I’d love the audience to be challenged with these questions.”
When asked about the sensitivity towards Gotti’s victims, it was stated, “In this script, everybody’s a victim, and you’ll see.”
“There’s a reason this family has caught, not only this town’s attention, but national attention,” Cassevetes added. “We feel drawn to the Gotti family even though we do completely different things and the reason why we do is because right or wrong—and believe me, it is my personal belief that some of it is wrong–we associate with them because they are what they are, and everybody who identifies with this family identifies with the reason of this,” and then he kind of went into rather odd and surprising territory: “To live in this life, we have to live in relationship with the government, and every time that John Gotti Sr. got on trial and won, we won, and I think we’re going to explore a lot of that in this film.”
So that’s it. They start shooting Gotti: Three Generations in October and one can expect it will probably get picked up for release sometime in late 2012, so we’ll see how it all turns out. You can view photos from the press conference below.
Photos Credit: WENN