John Travolta Defends 'Flattering' Portrayal of John Gotti in New Biopic
Travolta says he was asked to play the mobster by Gotti's own family.
John Travolta has been making the rounds while promoting the new film, "Gotti," in which he stars as the titular mob boss.
Travolta has been trying to get the film about the so-called "Teflon Don" made for nearly a decade after the family asked him to portray the notorious gangster.
Travolta has been so committed to getting the word out that he wore a 70's-style leisure suit in Brooklyn this week, an homage to his breakout role in "Saturday Night Fever," as he was honored at Lenny’s Pizza in the Bensonhurst section of the neighborhood.
Gotti's daughter, Victoria, and son, John Jr., were with Travolta and his wife, Kelly Preston, who also stars in the film, at Thursday’s night's New York premiere.
Preston plays Gotti's wife in the movie.
The movie has been criticized for its sympathetic portrayal of Gotti.
The Hollywood Reporter says the film mostly portrays Gotti as "a loving family man and altogether likable guy."
Variety says the movie "flatters" him. Matt's Movie Reviews calls the film "a disturbing example of mafia hero-worship."
“John Gotti was a charismatic guy, he loved his family, he was good to his neighbors, he also was a gangster, he was a thug. And people died because of him and you can't lose sight of that,” crime writer George Anastasia told Inside Edition. "I think a myth has grown around Gotti and this movie is another example of that... There is the reality and the myth."
Travolta, however, defends the reputed mob boss, saying there's another side of him that the tabloids and courtrooms didn't see.
“Unlike Dillinger and Capone, Gotti was loved, and I discovered why he was loved," he told Inside Edition. "He was like a local Robin Hood."
The film is directed by fellow New Yorker, "Entourage" star Kevin Connolly, who grew up on Long Island.
As they promoted the film this week, Connolly, along with Travolta and John Gotti Jr., took in a New York Yankees game Wednesday.
Gotti was known as "The Dapper Don" because of his sharp suits and flashy ties. He was also known as "Teflon Don," for his uncanny luck at beating the rap in court.
In 1992, Gotti was finally busted and convicted of five murders and racketeering. He was still behind bars when he died of throat cancer in 2002 at age 61.
"Gotti" made its theatrical debut last month at the Cannes Film Festival, where Travolta famously danced with rapper 50 Cent at the after party.
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