Victoria Gotti Reveals Why She Tried to Keep 'Painful' Death of Daughter Out of Lifetime Biopic
Victoria Gotti‘s life will be immortalized in a new Lifetime biopic set to premiere Saturday that explores her complicated relationship with her father, late mob boss John Gotti. But while the 56 year old wrote and produced Victoria Gotti: My Father’s Daughter and actually has a role in the movie, there’s one scene even she couldn’t keep out of her story.
In a candid conversation about the special with PEOPLE, Gotti reveals that she fought hard with Lifetime executives to avoid including the death of her first child, daughter Justine — who was tragically stillborn nine months after Gotti’s 1984 wedding to now ex-husband Carmine Agnello.
“I didn’t want [that scene] in there,” Gotti confessed. “That was very painful to me. And it’s not about having to explain it or not wanting to explain it — I just felt like it’s mine, not yours. You didn’t know her.”
Gotti originally didn’t include the moment in the script, but “somebody caught it” during the movie’s seven-year development process. In the end, though, Gotti is happy with how the moment is portrayed.
“They do it tastefully in the movie,” said Gotti, who would go on to have three other children: Carmine Jr., 32, John, 31, and Frankie, 28. “You see birth No. 1 which is bad, and then birth No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 — it’s done that way so it’s like, ‘Oh she has a family now.’ So it’s not so bad. But that’s something I really wanted left out.”
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While that moment made it into Victoria Gotti: My Father’s Daughter, Gotti was surprised by the decision to cut a scene about the death of her best friend Roseanne, who was killed in a car accident.
At the time, the two teenagers were prohibited from seeing their boyfriends, Gotti by her father and Roseanne by her brother. The young ladies would sneak out, going to the “outskirts of town to have dinner so no one would see,” Gotti said. But one night, they were caught by Roseanne’s brother, who took her away in his car.
Minutes later, Gotti heard sirens. Following them, she found the car wreck. Roseanne’s brother had been drinking, Gotti remembered, and had hit a median in the road. Roseanne’s body had flown through the windshield and landed in a tree. Her dismembered leg was on the street.
“I knew from the shoe,” Gotti said, getting emotional. “I remember looking at the shoe in the street on her leg, knowing it was her. And it just destroyed me.”
“That was an important scene to me because I felt it was meant to change fate completely,” Gotti reflected. “Here we were, two kids, not caring about consequences. … And then to have one of my closest friends killed right in front of me? I’d never been up close and personal with death. I was in such a state of shock. I didn’t even know how to tell my mother and father. I couldn’t say I was in the car with who I wasn’t supposed to be with. That whole scene was very pivotal to my life.”
Overall, she’s happy with the resulting film, especially actress Chelsea Frei’s portrayal of Gotti. “She really did a good job,” Gotti said. “She did consult with me before she did the role, but that had absolutely no bearing on what I think of her performance.”
And though the process of writing the film was hard for Gotti (“There were a few really bad parts of my life that when I would write them, I’d have to get away from the script for hours, sometimes days, because reliving them all over again was so painful”), she ultimately thinks it was worth the opportunity to show fans a different side of her.
“There are so many misconceptions of me,” Gotti said, “and this movie, it really clears those up.”
The biggest one? “That I was raised rich, that I’m a princess — I love that one,” joked Gotti. “We grew up very, very poor. We were very young. We were in downtown Brooklyn. We had nothing but we didn’t care. We were loved, my siblings and I. We were a very close-knit family.”
Victoria Gotti: My Father’s Daughter premieres Saturday (8 p.m. ET) on Lifetime.