I worked on Gotti, the film starring John Travolta and Kelly Preston about notorious mob boss John Gotti, in 2016. Last year at this time there was a tentative release date for December 2017, but in late November the film was pulled with promises of a wider release to come. It seems the producers were happier with a longer wait for a more comprehensive payoff, and it is finally happening. Gotti premieres this weekend at Cannes, and will be released in the US on June 15. I don't have any inside information on the distribution or the scope of the theatrical release, but I am excited to see how the enormous project in which I was a small cog came together.
Filmmaking is an incredibly collaborative process, requiring the dedication and hard work of many people. Every single person who worked on this film has a very different story to tell, and if you've spoken with anyone who works in 'the industry,' you will find that more often than not their stories involve more the day-to-day process of filmmaking much more than the product that you see onscreen. I am not sure, having not seen the film and knowing how editing can dramatically alter a movie from the original script, how much my character, Angel Gotti, is seen in the movie. I know I worked on the movie for three weeks, and was in a whole bunch of scenes, but I really only had one line. My story of helping make this film is not as much one of experiencing a real human's life and trying to bring it honestly to the screen as much as it is one of curlers.
Of course I did an enormous amount of research on the family and the woman I was to be playing, I even badgered her ex-husband on set about what she is/was like. There were scenes that were deeply emotional and had lingering effects on me after we wrapped, and there were excellent moments that came from a real place of inhabiting a scripted circumstance completely. But there is a lot of prep and downtime in film, my friends, and most of mine was spent in rollers.
To fantastic effect! My hair looked authentically styled for the 1960's, 1970's, and 1980's. There is one photo I have in which my hair is exactly how my mom used to do her hair in the '80's, and I look like a carbon copy of her. All the styling in the film is phenomenal. There were strange moments when I would come out of my trailer and a huge group (a literal mob) of men in suits with shoulder pads would be outside smoking and punching each other's arms and being the most convincing snapshots of New York crime family men. Period films, especially, tend toward the surreal during production.
I spent a lot of time in the trailer with the very talented Ashley Drew Fisher, who had her gorgeous blonde locks colored a deep brown for her role as Vicky Gotti, my movie sister. I would pick her up from where she was staying in OTR every day, as she flew herself in from LA for the project. It was helpful to share that space with her offscreen, whatever layers of intimacy can be overlaid onto the character one is trying to embody can only add to the depth of a performance. We would occasionally get dinner or go to pilates after the day was done. Some days we were called, got into hair and makeup, sat in our trailer for eight hours, then sent home. I met the stunning Brianna Bernard, who was a stand-in, on that set, and she has continued to be a fabulous human being. As she is a Cincy local, we've gotten to work together since (she played my ex-girlfriend, Glethien, in "All's Faire" during the most recent run of Serials at the Know Theatre,) and I adore her. Donald Volpenheim, who plays Paul Castellano in Gotti, was surprised to find out that I had worked on the film for longer than he had when we were getting to know one another months later during the production of "Frankenstein" at the Falcon Theatre. I also, of course, greatly enjoyed working with John Travolta (singer of showtunes and all around nice guy,) Kelly Preston (kind and unbelievably beautiful,) Spencer LoFranco (with intensity,) and Pruitt Taylor Vince (over whom I bonded about LaCroix and had to try -very- hard not to fangirl.)
Sometimes you develop a family with the people you're spending all of this time with, and sometimes you don't. Wrapping on the films during which tight bonds have been formed can be heartbreaking, which is why I'm glad to say that this project was one that was a little easier to say 'thanks, that was fun,' and continue with life as usual. Which is okay. I am extremely grateful for the experience and have been looking forward to seeing the final product immensely.
But it has been two years since I've even looked at a hot roller.