Six years and two title changes after the project was announced, John Travolta will finally star as the titular Gambino family Mafioso in “Gotti.” Good Morning America debuted the film’s first trailer on Sept. 26, depicting the allegedly Gotti-ordered hit on his predecessor, Paul Castellano (Donald John Volpenhein), followed by his own demise from “The Teflon Don”—gleaming pompadour, designer suits—to a bald, craggy-faced inmate. Gotti died serving a murder sentence in 2002 at age 61; the cause was throat cancer. One of his sons, John Gotti Jr., helped advise director Kevin Connolly, and even provided Travolta with his father’s jewelry and ties to get into character.
Making “Gotti” was an unusual family bonding exercise for Travolta, who was last an Oscar nominee as “Pulp Fiction” hitman Vincent Vega: his real life wife (Kelly Preston) and daughter (Ella Bleu Travolta) play his relatives onscreen. On the steps of a courthouse, Victoria Gotti (Preston) delivers the trailer’s best line, silencing the reporter who asks, “Do you know what your husband does for a living?” with two words: “He provides.” Despite her cheeky response, behind closed doors Victoria implores her husband not to recruit his namesake (Spencer Lofranco) into organized crime.
This is the third feature film from Connolly, who is best known for portraying “E” on “Entourage” for eight seasons. “Dear Eleanor,” a 2016 period piece that transported Jessica Alba and Luke Wilson to the era of the Cuban Missile Crisis, was his prior directorial credit. Nick Cassavettes was originally set to direct this film and even vied to cast Lindsay Lohan, who attended the spring 2011 press conference where Travolta called the tale “probably the most interesting untold story in this country.” The script is by Lem Dobb (who penned “The Limey“—another film about career criminals—from Steven Soderbergh) and prolific character actor Leo Rossi. Filming occurred in New York City and across Ohio.
Distributed domestically by Lionsgate Premiere, “Gotti” opens in theaters December 15. Watch the trailer below.