NEW YORK - John Travolta said here Tuesday that his decision to play late mob boss John Gotti Sr. in Fiore Films' Gotti: Three Generations will allow him to explore "the most interesting untold story in this country."
Meanwhile, producers said Lindsay Lohan is indeed in talks to play a part in the film, widely expected to be that of Victoria Gotti.
Fiore confirmed rumors of the conversations on Tuesday during a press conference with Travolta, who was confirmed as having signed a formal deal to play Gotti Sr.
, and John Gotti Jr., along with director Nick Cassavetes
, John Q
), as well as Fiore Films CEO and the film's executive producer Marc Fiore
. Lohan sat in the audience alongside Victoria Gotti and later posed for press photographers and cameras.
During the press conference at The Sheraton Hotel in midtown Manhattan, the filmmakers said Joe Pesci will portray Gotti deputy Angelo Ruggiero. Travolta's daughter Ella Bleu Travolta will also have a role that wasn't immediately detailed. ICM is serving as worldwide sales agent.
"This is probably the most interesting untold story in this country," Travolta said, adding that a recent five-hour long meeting with Gotti Jr. convinced him to sign on to the project.
Princincipal photography is set to start in October, Fiore said, with a press release mentioning that the theatrical release is planned for late 2012. The film, which will be shot in New York, is self-financed by Fiore, the producers said. They didn't provide budget details.
Asked about chatter that Lohan was going to be part of the film, Fiore said she is a "terrific actress," and the filmmakers are in talks with her. Asked about Lohan, Travolta said he "always thought she was gorgeous and talented" and he would be happy to have her on board.
The team is also in conversations with an unnamed actor to play Gotti Jr., with Fiore saying he hopes to have a deal to announce "within a week or two." Gotti Jr. himself quipped that Eddie Murphy would play him.
Based on the life of Gotti Jr. and his relationship with his father, who ran the Gambino crime family before him, actor-writer Leo Rossi (Analyze This) wrote the screenplay for the film after Gotti Jr. sold the rights to his life story to Fiore Films.
Asked how mob victims will feel about the film, Gotti Jr. said "everybody is a victim" in the film. "While there have been several productions about my father, none of them have captured the truth about my family and what went on behind closed doors," he also said. He added that his father paid for his sins and that Fiore's and his family's goal for the movie was the same - "to bring it as close to fact as possible."
Cassavetes said he wants to explore the Gotti family, who people across the country seem drawn to, in new ways thanks to unprecedented access to the family, friends and other people.
Discussing the film plot, Cassavetes said it will approach Gotti Sr. and his family in a new way. "He didn't know any better," he explained. "The family didn't know any better. That's the only life they had."
Asked what he will have to do next to prepare for his role, Travolta said he needs video to study Gotti Sr.'s style and cadence. "I have a lot of work to do," he said. He declined to attempt a Gotti Sr. impression.
Travolta said spending five hours with Gotti Jr. convinced him to do the project. He described an "amazing" evening filled with real bonding. "This father lost a son, and I lost a son," Travolta said at one point in explaining why he can relate to Gotti. He also cited the "beautiful love" he feels from the family and the dichotomy of Gotti Sr. as appealing, plus he said he is a fan of Growing up Gotti.
"I'm really happy to be making this picture with my good friend Nick Cassavetes," Pesci, who wasn't at the press conference, said in a press statement. "It's going to be a great experience and a rare opportunity to look inside the life of Gotti."
People with executive producers credits on the film besides Fiore are Fay Devlin, Michael Froch, Rob Logozio, Marty Ingels, Anson Downes and Linda Favila.
Among the attendees of the press event was Chazz Palminteri who wrote Mob Street, which Fiore Films is working on.