The Gotti family-approved biopic, now titled Gotti: In the Shadow of My Father, has been coming together nicely these past few months. Academy Award-winner Barry Levinson is now directing the crime drama, which includes Al Pacino and John Travolta as members of its cast.
Perhaps the most pivotal role in the Gotti flick is that of John Gotti Jr., the son and reluctant heir to the crime empire run by John “The Dapper Don” Gotti Sr. (Travolta). The only serious candidate previously rumored to have been up for the role was James Franco, who has long since passed on the project, in order to star in Disney’s Oz the Great and Powerful.
Now Variety has confirmed that the part of Gotti Jr. belongs to Ben Foster, who was most recently seen in the Jason Statham thriller, The Mechanic. As it were, Foster also landed his first feature-length starring role in another picture helmed by Levinson, the period drama Liberty Heights.
In the Shadow of My Father is a mobster drama in the vein of The Godfather, as the central conflict of the film is that between Gotti Sr. (who “lived and died by the mob code”) and his son, who strives to make a life for himself that does not involve dealing with the Mafia or criminal types.
Travolta’s real-life wife Kelly Preston is playing Gotti’s spouse, Victoria DiGiorgio, but it looks like Lindsay Lohan may no longer be onboard to appear as Gotti Jr.’s wife, Kim. Joe Pesci is also apparently out of the picture – and is currently suing the film’s production company, Fiore Films, over issues related to his would-be salary for starring in the movie.
Foster has earned himself a reputation for being an intense performer in recent years, following his dramatic turns in films like Alpha Dog, 3:10 to Yuma, and The Messenger, among others. Between his upcoming role in Levinson’s Gotti biopic and Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, Foster seems to be improving his standing as a respectable actor.
Despite legal issues related to Pesci, and mixed feelings from fans over whether or not Travolta is really a good choice to portray the flamboyant “Dapper Don” onscreen, In the Shadow of My Father sounds like it could be a worthy addition to the mobster drama genre. Levinson is re-teaming with his Oscar-nominated Bugsy screenwriter James Toback on the project, working from an original script penned by character actor Leo Rossi (The Accused, Analyze This). That alone bodes well for the final product.
Gotti: In the Shadow of My Father is slated to begin filming on location in New York on January 3rd, 2012. It is expected to reach theaters later that year.