The movie centers on one of New York's most notorious organized-crime bosses, his son and their involvement with the Gambino crime family.
Gotti delivers an account of John Gotti’s life, spanning three decades to show how he became the head of the Gambino crime family in New York, earning the nickname "Teflon Don" due to his ability to evade conviction.
The film, which will screen in Cannes on May 15, is a family affair for real-life husband-and-wife John Travolta and Kelly Preston, who plays his wife, as well as their daughter Ella Bleu Travolta, who portrays one of the Gottis' daughters.
The film, which Travolta has long pursued, has had a lengthy and complicated production history, encountering a number of false starts. While in development, Gotti cycled through multiple directors (Nick Cassavetes and Barry Levinson were each attached at one point) and stars (Lindsay Lohan was once reported to be part of the project). Lionsgate Premiere, a day-and-date theatrical and VOD label, had been set to distribute the pic, but, with the help of Sunrider Productions’ Edward Walson, producers bought it back and have arranged for a wider release on June 15 through Vertical Entertainment.
Keep reading to find out more about the cast and other real-life members of the Gambino crime family.
Trading one polished look — he played lawyer Robert Shapiro in FX's The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story last year — for another, John Travolta has different shoes to fill playing mob boss John Gotti in the new biopic.
Gotti was born in Oct. 27, 1940, in the South Bronx, New York. He was the son of Italian immigrants and got involved in organized crime early on in life. Although he was heavily involved in crime and went through multiple arrests, he did not serve much jail time during the beginning. In his early twenties, he married Victoria DiGiorgio and tried his hand at legitimate work for a brief period of time to support his family.
Gotti once again got involved in crime, this time faster and harder. He earned the trust of the Gambino family after committing multiple crimes and gained control after he allegedly organized the murder of then-leader Paul Castellano. This made Gotti a local legend and gave him newfound fame. For his crimes, Gotti was finally sentenced to life in federal prison in 1992, where he developed throat cancer and died in Springfield, Mo., at age 61 in 2002.
in 2015, Travolta explained to The Hollywood Reporter his decision to stick with the film — directed by Entourage star Kevin Connolly — for years.
“Kevin presented his take to me, which is the vision I've always wanted, and I believe the vision John Jr. wanted," said Travolta. "It's a small character study of John Jr. and John Sr. that investigates the realness and grittiness of their rapport and the historical events of the Gotti family."
John Travolta and Kelly Preston have appeared in a handful of films together, including Battlefield Earth, and Preston plays the role of Travolta's character's wife in Gotti.
The Gottis married in 1962, when Victoria Gotti was 17 years old, and had five children together, though son Frank was killed by a car on March 18, 1980.
Victoria blamed her husband for their son John Gotti Jr.’s involvement in the mob, which is depicted in the film. Although her husband was in and out of jail, the couple remained married while he was convicted until John’s death in 2002.
On playing Victoria Gotti, Preston told ET Online, "I looked at [Travolta] and the way he looked at me was so completely ... I felt like I was in John Gotti's arms. It sent chills."
John Gotti Jr., known as “Junior,” was John Gotti Sr. and Victoria Gotti’s eldest son. Canadian actor Spencer Lofranco plays Gotti Jr. in the film. Gotti Jr. became active in the mob scene due to his father’s involvement. He had some run-ins with the law, but went on to become the caporegime, which is an Italian word used to signify the head of a family in Sicily, but has now come to mean a ranking member, similar to captain or senior sergeant in a military unit, and acting boss of the Gambino crime family after his father was sent to prison in 1992. He disaffiliated from organized crime shortly before his father's death.
Aniello Dellacroce was an Italian-American member of organized crime. He was nicknamed Neil and has been reported to have entered the hospital under the alias Timothy O'Neil. For a period of time, he was an underboss of the Gambino crime family. Dellacroce served time behind bars for tax evasion and contempt of court.
Golden-Globe winning actor Stacy Keach plays Dellacroce in the film.
Angelo Ruggiero, portrayed by Pruitt Taylor Vince, was a friend of John Gotti until their falling-out later in life. He was also the caporegime in the Gambino crime family.
“Sammy the Bull” Gravano, portrayed by William DeMeo, is known as John Gotti’s former partner in crime and the man who brought down John Gotti and sent more than 30 mob workers to prison after exposing the truth about the mafia to the FBI. No stranger to organized crime prior, Gravano served as a hitman and underboss to the Gambino family.
In 2002, Gravano was convicted of operating a large drug ring. After serving 15 years in prison, he was released in September 2017.
Former members who cooperate and testify against the mob, like Gravano, are typically referred to as a certain word in the community. When asked about this in a 1997 interview with Diane Sawyer, Gravano said, “Are you trying to guilt me into the word? Rat. The word you’d like to hear? … I look at it as, I was betrayed. I betrayed him.” He added: “John’s a double-crosser, I’m a master double-crosser. We played chess, he lost.”
Bartholomew "Bobby" Boriello, played by Leo Rossi in the film, was a member of the Gambino crime family serving as boss John Gotti Sr.’s bodyguard and chauffeur. Boriello also allegedly participated as a hitman in the 1990 murder of Louis DiBono, a Gambino crime family soldier, who was found dead inside a car that was parked inside the underground parking garage in the World Trade Center.
Rossi is an actor, writer and producer with more than 100 credits to his name.
Kim Gotti is the wife of John Gotti Jr. The couple has been married since 1990 and share six children together. Megan Leonard plays Gotti in the film.
John Travolta and Kelly Preston’s daughter in real life plays their onscreen daughter, Angel. Angel Gotti is the oldest child of John and Victoria Gotti.
In 2016, the real Angel Gotti took to Twitter to praise John Travolta on his role as her father. In a photo of brother John Gotti Jr. and John Travolta, she posted: “My Brother John & John Travolta, John is doing an amazing job! The Life and Death of John Gotti. #JohnGotti”
Travolta and his wife and daughter also appeared together in the comedy Old Dogs with Robin Williams. Gotti marks her second acting role.
For his part, Travolta has noted the resemblance between his onscreen and offscreen wives and daughters.
“My wife looks like Victoria and my daughter looks like Angel. It’s really weird,” he told THR in 2015.
Added Connolly: “It’s uncanny. I looked at pictures and was thinking, 'This is too perfect.' Life is too short not to go to work with your family and friends.”