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Ben Foster snags role as John Gotti Jr. in 'Gotti' biopic, joins John Travolta, Lindsay Lohan

BY Nancy Dillon

LOS ANGELES - After gunning for the likes of Jeremy Renner and James Franco, producers of the upcoming Gotti family biopic have cast "Six Feet Under" actor Ben Foster in the pivotal role of John Gotti Jr.

The 30-year-old will face off against John Travolta's portrayal of the infamous mafia don John Gotti Sr. and round out a cast that includes Al Pacino, Kelly Preston and Lindsay Lohan.

Foster said he got a break when Gotti director Barry Levinson cast him in the 1999 coming of age movie "Liberty Heights," and he was "honored" to join the mobster movie.

"Barry Levinson was the first director who took a chance on me, and I have a career because of him," Foster said in a statement.

"Gotti: In The Shadow Of My Father" begins shooting in New York this January and is billed as an intimate, insider's view of life at the top of the Gambino crime family.

"I love Ben's passion for the role," Fiore Films CEO Marc Fiore told the Daily News. "This isn't a shoot-em-up gangster movie. It's a story about a father and son. Ben has the edge that most people expect with Junior, but he can play the other, deeper side too."

Fiore said Lohan's deal isn't finished yet, but he's "hoping" to close it soon.

He declined further comment on Joe Pesci's lawsuit claiming producers unfairly whacked his deal to play Gotti enforcer Angelo Ruggiero.

The suit, filed last Wednesday, is asking for $3 million plus punitive damages.

"(Pesci) ended his very strict and healthy diet, and has so far gained approximately 30 pounds in anticipation of playing Ruggiero, who was well known for his heavy and stock build," the lawsuit said.

"It's a joke. Mr. Pesci is going to embarrass himself," Fiore told the News last week.

He said Pesci joined the project under previous director Nick Cassavetes, and when Cassavetes walked away, Pesci's manager wouldn't discuss a contract until another director was hired.

"If this is what Joe wants to do, we'll see him in court," Fiore said. "He's not getting a penny from me."

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