John Gotti's Son Has A LOT To Say About The John Travolta Biopic Of His Dad

by Tatiana Tenreyro

John Travolta’s upcoming John Gotti biopic Gotti is finally coming out on June 15, and the film delves into the mafia icon’s legacy. It's based on his son John “Junior” Gotti’s book Shadow of My Father, so given that the film is taken from his family’s point of view, it seems pretty likely that Gotti accurately portrays what Gotti’s life was like. But what does John Gotti's family think about Gotti?

Gotti Jr. recently discussed this in detail with The New York Post, complaining that he felt the movie was too short compared to the extensive material featured in the 600-page autobiography. “This should be a 10-part series,” said Gotti Jr., also noting the film's relatively low budget of just below $10 million. “[Travolta] had to act the sh*t out of this movie because there’s no exploding buildings or crashing airplanes," claimed Gotti Jr.. "You even get the sense, in court scenes and bar scenes, that we were limited on extras."

Gotti Jr. did say, however, that he felt Travolta did a decent job at portraying his father, remarking that he’s “one of the greatest actors of our time." However, Gotti Jr. also discussed his feelings that that despite how much Travolta clearly invested in embodying the late Gotti, the actor's portrayal wasn’t as accurate as it could've been. “There are overreactions that weren’t my father’s personality,” said Gotti Jr. “In one scene, I’m being introduced to him for the first time as a street guy [after being inducted into La Cosa Nostra] and they have him a little bit too overjoyed. It would have been a more serious, solemn moment for my father.” Gotti Jr. also noted that Travolta’s physical attributes are very different from the mobster, who, according to his son, was “[5-foot-10], barrel-chested.”

Gotti Jr.'s primary criticism of the film, though, comes back to its length. “I give Gotti a 7 because it’s not long enough for me. The 100-minute Hollywood formula is not appropriate for this story,” he told the Post. Perhaps others will feel the same way. The film, which began production way back in 2011, has encountered many issues since then; Vulture reports that the film was supposed to come out in 2017, but Lionsgate cut ties with it just 10 days before its release date.

Besides that, there were issues with casting, as People reported seven years ago that Lindsay Lohan was initially set to star as Gotti's wife Victoria Gotti. MTV reported that the actor was picked for the role by Victoria herself, who is a friend of the Lohan family. Yet according to producer Mark Fiore, Lohan and the filmmakers “just couldn’t reach terms.” As such, the movie's makers eventually settled on hiring Travolta’s real life wife Kelly Preston fo the role. This casting decision turned out to work well for Travolta, who told Entertainment Tonight about how much fun it was to work alongside his wife. "For us to be in a movie where we're playing other people is so much fun, and that's what we kind of live for — to have that creative experience together," Travolta said.

In addition to the casting back and forth, there were also issues with finding a director for Gotti. People reported that Nick Cassavetes was at first going to make the film, but had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts. The film’s director ended up being Kevin Connolly, aka Eric Murphy from Entourage.

Clearly, the film went through many challenges along the way, but luckily, John “Junior” Gotti at least doesn’t seem too bothered by the movie's portrayal of his family.