‘It was like beautiful jazz’ | Chris Kerson on working with John Travolta in GOTTI

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"‘It was like beautiful jazz’ | Chris Kerson on working with John Travolta in GOTTI"
Photo credit: Brian Douglas | Chris Kerson as “Willie Boy” Johnson and John Travolta as John Gotti, in the film Gotti, set for release June 15, 2018

Whether you want to admit it or not, GOTTI may be one of the most anticipated films of the year. Its grungy, visceral, yet rich history has cynically entertained the world for the past few decades. With its own swag and style, it was inevitable Hollywood would emerge from the mafia-movie-ruble and present the world with another ‘Made Man’ piece. This time, one of NYC’s most notorious figure-heads in the world of organized crime, John Gotti.

Mingling among GOTTI’s lead (John Travolta) is a man whose line of work has evolved in an interesting way. We’ve seen him in shows like the second season of HBO’s TRUE DETECTIVE (2015) and indie-hit feature COST OF A SOUL (2010). His resume goes on and on, and in an interview I had with one of Hollywood’s up-and-coming leading men, Chris Kerson digs deep within the process and full-blown workings alongside John Travolta in his latest role of FBI informant, ‘Willie Boy’ Johnson in GOTTI.

Chris Kerson has gone from a man who would be identified as just another cast-member, to becoming CHRIS KERSON. A man with a name to accompany his image no matter what line of acting services he renders. The man has gotten so good at what he does, “one day’s notice,” is what he expresses to me when starting to open up about landing the role of Willie Boy. “Be on a plane in three hours. You start tomorrow,” were the words he heard before he could even process the feeling of officially being part of what will be one of the most impactful stories to ever be told on film.

As shooting went on, he “became a sponge,” says Kerson. (A mafioso term for someone who’s around observing the lifestyle.) “It was like beautiful jazz,” he says. Working with a generous John Travolta, Kerson observed and obtained so much, his growth due to his experiences in GOTTI are greatly appreciated. “One of the most creative people I’ve ever been around,” although his time on set was an “intense experience in terms of preparation and staying focused,” Kerson also goes one to express how amazing it was to work with an “actor I really looked up to when I was young.”

GOTTI hasn’t been released yet, and already it’s making noise. Resulting in a standing ovation post a screening at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, the anticipation seems to be a pressure cooker getting ready to burst out in steam. As a vital part to the film’s backstory, Kerson expresses his reasoning for us to go out and watch the film. It’s more than just a story about one of the world’s most famous mobsters. It’s a piece that exposes an important “time period in American history. Behind the scenes of what was going on into Gotti’s life while all this history – whether you are for or against – was being made.

John Travolta and Chris Kerson celebrate at 2018’s Cannes Film Festival

With much enthusiasm and love for his latest project, Chris Kerson is more than just another man we see on screen. Digging deeper prior to GOTTI, Kerson expresses interesting facts about his past that also contribute in helping him own every single character he’s portrayed, and future ones as well. My full, in-depth interview with Chris Kerson can be heard in its entirety by clicking audio clip below. 


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