NEW YORK-John Travolta
says his upcoming performance as an infamous New York mafia boss will offer audiences a movie they can't refuse.
The star, set to play late Gambino crime family boss John Gotti joined director Nick Cassavetes
and the mobster's son John "Junior" Gotti to reveal details about the film "Gotti: Three Generations."
"This is probably the most interesting untold story in this country. What a character to approach!" Travolta told a press conference in New York, where the film, also starring Joe
Pesci and possibly Lindsay Lohan
, will be shot later this year.
Travolta, wearing a green tie and his hair close-cropped, called Gotti, who died in prison in 2002, an old school mafioso who lived by "a moral code."
In his long and bloody career as head of one of the historic five New York Italian mafia families, Gotti won public sympathy for his stylish appearance and wit. He was known as the "Dapper Don" and also the "Teflon Don" for his longtime ability to beat federal prosecutors in court.
"I like the glamor he had," Travolta said. "He charmed the press, he charmed his family."
The dark side, said Travolta, who famously played a laconic gunman in "Pulp Fiction," included "the paranoia, the fear, the putting the family at risk."
To research the part, Travolta plans to study as much original video footage as possible and to "understand how a syndicate like this works."
Pointing into the hotel room where journalists crammed in with dozens of Gotti family members and associates, Travolta said "there's a plethora of knowledge here that I tap."
John "Junior," who himself has beaten four federal prosecutions on racketeering, murder and mob charges, said he wanted his father to be portrayed fairly.
"My father was an icon. He was a man larger than life," he said.
When a reporter asked how families of people killed, injured, robbed or otherwise victimized during Gotti senior's reign would feel about the Hollywood treatment, the younger Gotti snapped: "In this script, everybody's a victim."
Film reps would not reveal who is being cast to play Gotti's son. Although not as flamboyant as his father, he also sports the dapper look and turned up to the press conference in a grey suit and open-necked shirt.
The film, due for release in 2012, will co-star Pesci as Gotti's deputy Angelo Ruggiero, and possibly also Lohan, who attended the press conference alongside a row of bejeweled Gotti family members.
At a subsequent photo shoot in which baying paparazzi pushed and shoved for a better angle, blonde-haired Lohan posed next to Gotti's daughter Victoria, fueling speculation that the in-and-out-of-trouble starlet may see playing the mob heiress as a way to resurrect her career
Producer Marc Fiore praised Lohan's acting skills and confirmed she was in the mix.
"I'm in talks to have Lindsay in the movie. Nothing has been finalized, but we are in talks," he said.