This weekend, Lifetime airs Victoria Gotti: My Father’s Daughter, a biopic in her own words. Maurice Benard plays Gotti’s father John Gotti, and she gave him a key insight into how to portray him.
“She gave me the best advice in the world which was play him like Michael Corleone in The Godfather, not The Sopranos,” Benard said. “I said, ‘Right on, that’s going to help me.’”
In addition to great acting advice, that’s very telling to learn how the Gottis saw themselves.
“Yes, now look, I didn’t play him like Michael Corleone,” Benard said. “I played him kind of like Michael Corleone but added gears, with an animal inside kind of. It’s beautiful advice that I got early on.”
Chelsea Frei plays Victoria Gotti, and the real Victoria was helpful to her too.
“Just having her there and being able to be like, ‘Okay, this is what happened in between these two scenes,’” Frei said. “Like a full life of things that couldn’t all be included within the script. That was also very helpful.”
A 90 minute TV movie can’t include everything, so one scene where Frei needed more details was Victoria’s wedding.
“I actually wore her wedding dress in the movie and we opened it together and we got to talk a lot about it,” Frei said. “You think everybody’s wedding day is just filled with joy and happiness. There’s always a lot more going on.”
Some of the scenes of Victoria Gotti’s life will be shocking. They were shocking to Frei while playing her, let alone the audience at home.
“There’s a very dramatic scene at the end between her and her husband that involves a shotgun and a bathtub,” Frei said. “It was important to know more information surrounding that.”
Benard learned more about the real Victoria too, which helped him play her father.
“I went in a room with her with my wife and she started telling me stories about her dad,” Benard said. “What I got out of it was how sweet she was. Then it showed me what John saw and felt. I didn’t know she was that sweet. I knew she was a cool chick but when you see the sweetness, almost that little girl, that helped me.”
Victoria Gotti: My Father’s Daughter premieres Saturday, February 9 at 8PM on Lifetime.