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John Travolta Actor

John Travolta, co-star of the "Be Cool" Movie!

The legendary actor continues his multi-decade acting success with another appearance in "Be Cool" in 2005. During the latter half of the 1970s, John Travolta became the biggest star in Hollywood; after a string of hits in films, on television, and on the radio, he had emerged as a true cultural phenomenon, defining tastes in music and fashion while dominating innumerable column inches in newspapers, magazines, and gossip columns. Like so many other celebrities, Travolta's initial fame proved short-lived, and by the 1980s he was viewed by the media and the public alike largely as a relic of his era. Unlike so many other celebrities, however, he resurfaced, Phoenix-like, the following decade, reestablishing his claims to film superstardom and staking out new territory as one of the most acclaimed actors in contemporary film. Born February 18, 1954, in Englewood, NJ, he was the youngest of six children in an entertainment family: his father, Salvatore, was a former semi-pro football player and his mother, Helen, was an alumna of a radio vocal group called the Sunshine Sisters as well as a high-school drama teacher -- all but one of his siblings pursued showbiz careers as well. By the age of 12 Travolta himself had already joined an area actors' group, and was soon appearing in local musicals and dinner-theater performances. He also took tap-dancing lessons from Gene Kelly's brother Fred. By age 16, he had dropped out of high school to take up acting full-time, relocating to Manhattan to make his off-Broadway debut in 1972 in Rain. A minor role in the touring company of the hit musical Grease followed, and in 1973 Travolta appeared opposite the Andrews Sisters in the Broadway musical Over Here! In 1975, he also made his film bow with a bit role in the horror picture The Devil's Rain.

In 1975, Travolta was cast in a television sitcom titled Welcome Back, Kotter. As Vinnie Barbarino, a dim-witted high school Lothario, he shot to overnight superstardom, and quickly his face adorned T-shirts, lunch boxes, and the like. Before the first episode of the series even aired, he had also won a small role in Brian De Palma's 1976 classic Carrie, giving him inroads to the movie industry, and at the early peak of his Kotter success he even recorded a series of pop music LPs -- Can't Let Go, John Travolta, and Travolta Fever -- scoring a major hit with the single "Let Her In." Approached with a role in Terrence Malick's Days of Heaven, he was forced to reject the project in the face of a busy Kotter schedule, but in 1976 he was able to shoot a TV feature, director Randal Kleiser's The Boy in the Plastic Bubble, which won considerable critical acclaim. Diana Hyland, the actress who played Travolta's mother in the picture, also became his offscreen lover until her death from cancer in 1977.

In the wake of Hyland's death, Travolta's first major feature film, 1977's Saturday Night Fever, was released. A latter-day Rebel Without a Cause set against the backdrop of the New York City disco nightlife, it positioned Travolta as the most talked-about young star in Hollywood. In addition to earning his first Academy Award nomination, he also became an icon of the era, his white-suited visage and cocky, rhythmic strut enduring as defining images of late-'70s American culture. In 1978, he starred in Kleiser's film adaptation of Grease, this time essaying the lead role of 1950s greaser Danny Zuko. Its box-office success was even greater than Saturday Night Fever's, becoming a perennial fan favorite and, like its predecessor, spawning a massively popular soundtrack LP. In the light of his back-to-back successes, as well as the continued popularity of Welcome Back, Kotter -- on which he still occasionally appeared -- it seemed Travolta could do no wrong. And then the bottom dropped out.

Travolta's first misstep was 1978's Moment By Moment, a laughable May-December romance with Lily Tomlin. Savaged by critics, the picture was a box-office disaster, the first major failure of his career. Travolta then turned down the lead in Paul Schrader's hit American Gigolo (a role which, like the one offered in Days of Heaven, was then awarded to Richard Gere) to star in 1980's Urban Cowboy, which restored much of his financial lustre. Starring Travolta as a Texas oil worker, the film and its accompanying smash soundtrack did for country music and ten-gallon hats what Saturday Night Fever did for disco and leisure suits, and resulted in such an influx of new country fans that Nashville's entire early-'80s period was later dubbed the "Urban Cowboy" era by music historians. The following year he starred in De Palma's under-recognized Blow Out, resulting in some of the best critical notices of his career but falling well short of box-office expectations.

Travolta then rejected the lead in An Officer and a Gentleman (yet another role then eagerly accepted by Gere) to reprise the role of Tony Manero in the Saturday Night Fever sequel Staying Alive. Directed by Sylvester Stallone, the film was released in 1983 to respectable returns, but fell far short of its anticipated blockbuster status. Two of a Kind, released a few months later, reunited Travolta with his Grease co-star Olivia Newton-John, but again lightning failed to strike twice and the movie soon disappeared from theaters. By now Travolta's career was on shaky ground, and after a two-year absence from the screen he returned in 1985's Perfect. When it too failed to live up to expectations, he was roundly dismissed as a flash in the pan and a has-been, and several years of poor career choices, bad advice, and missed opportunities were to follow. By 1988 Travolta had been missing from theaters for three years, and when the oft-delayed comedy The Experts finally surfaced in theaters in 1989, its disastrous showing seemed the final nail in his coffin.

Later that same year, however, the unheralded, low-budget comedy Look Who's Talking was released. Co-starring Travolta and Kirstie Alley, it was produced for some eight million dollars but went on to gross close to 150 million dollars over the course of the following 12 months, later spawning a pair of sequels, 1990's Look Who's Talking Too and 1993's Look Who's Talking Now. However, both of Travolta's 1991 pictures, Eyes of an Angel and Shout, fared poorly, and as the Look Who's Talking series sputtered to a halt he was again written off by the press. Then, in 1994, he made one of the most stunning comebacks in entertainment history by starring in Pulp Fiction, a lavishly acclaimed crime film written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, a longtime Travolta fan who wrote the role of Vincent Vega specifically with the actor in mind. A critical as well as commercial smash, Pulp Fiction introduced Travolta to a new generation of moviegoers, and suddenly he was again a major star, with a second Academy Award nomination to prove it.

In the wake of Pulp Fiction, the resurrected Travolta became one of the hardest-working actors in Hollywood, and on Tarantino's advice he accepted the starring role in director Barry Sonnenfeld's 1995 Elmore Leonard adaptation Get Shorty. Acclaimed by many critics as his finest performance to date, it was another major hit, and he followed it by appearing in the 1996 John Woo action tale Broken Arrow. Phenomenon was another smash that same summer, and by Christmas Travolta was back in theaters as a disreputable angel in Michael. The following year he reunited with Woo in the highly successful thriller Face/Off, which he trailed with a supporting turn in Nick Cassavetes' She's So Lovely. After 1997's Mad City, Travolta began work on Primary Colors, Mike Nichols' political satire, portraying a charismatic, Bill Clinton-like U.S. President. An adaptation of the acclaimed book A Civil Action followed, as did the 1999 thriller The General's Daughter, in which Travolta co-starred with Madeline Stowe. In 2000, the actor starred as an alien invader in the sci-fi thriller Battlefield Earth, based on Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard's novel of the same name. That same year he returned to human form to portray a financially strapped TV weatherman in Lucky Numbers, a comedy directed by Nora Ephron. Though Travolta had high hopes for Battlefield Earth, often citing it as the next Star Wars (and even going so far as to plan a sequel before the first was released), the film was seen as little more than an overblown, over-budgeted orgy of excess, and Lucky Numbers fell flat at the box office as well. Facing yet another comeback, Travolta shed some pounds and jumped back into action in the summer of 2001 with Swordfish. A complex tale of mixed loyalties, computer hacking, and espionage, Swordfish teamed Travolta with X-Men star Hugh Jackman in hopes of dominating the summer box office.

John Travolta a high miler

HOLLYWOOD heartthrob John Travolta has revealed he likes to get saucy once the fasten seatbelt lights go off at 34,000 feet. The cheeky flying fanatic, who pilots his own plane, says he and his gorgeous wife once created their own turbulence in the skies.

" In my Lear jet days, we joined the club. I shut off the cockpit, let someone else fly, and we had our day," 51-year-old Travolta told men's bible FHM.

"No more details necessary."

Despite their saucy mile-high antics the Be Cool star says his marriage to Kelly Preston may not have survived were it not for counselling.

The A-list couple, who married in 1991 and have two children, visited a counsellor every six months for 12 years.

"Relationships grow and change. If you don't update your relationship, you grow apart. We got to know each other over the years," he told Britain's Night And Day magazine.

"But sure, I could have seen us separating without counselling."

Kelly, an actress in her own right, must certainly tire of the female attention her blue-eyed husband garners. Travolta, though, seems to take all the adulation in his stride, even confessing he is flattered by the attention of fresh-faced beauties like his Love Song For Bobby Long co-stars 21-year-old Scarlett Johansson and former chart-topper Christina Milian.

"Between Scarlett and Christina I'm in a good place. I love it, but I think what they're responding to is their memory of me in Grease.

"I'm flattered that they get excited over me. Whatever it is that they like, I'm all for it. Young, gorgeous girls like these two are so much fun to be around because they're light hearted, very healthy and uncomplicated, meaning they don't have a lot of baggage, so there's a purity to them."

Travolta Sells Hawaiian Home to Ireland

John Travolta and Kelly Preston will remain landlocked.

The Hollywood couple has sold their oceanside estate on Oahu to former supermodel Kathy Ireland for just under $3 million, reports the Los Angeles Times.

The 3,400-square foot estate boasts a quarter acre of beach frontage, three bedrooms, three bathrooms, an indoor swimming pool and a lava waterfall under a domed ceiling.
Ireland, along with partners Erik Sterling and Jason Winters, plans to renovate the private residence in order to make it a corporate retreat that will be rented as one of the Kathy Ireland Worldwide company vacation villas. The model-turned-mogul will also use the estate to promote a Hawaiian-themed design product line for her brand of home furnishings and clothing.

Forbes estimates that Ireland, 41, built her design brand into a $1 billion a year empire. She and her husband currently live in Santa Barbara.

Travolta and Preston were married in 1991 and own property in Brentwood, Santa Barbara and Maine.

Travolta, 51, currently stars in the "Get Shorty" sequel "Be Cool." He next begins shooting the crime drama "Lonely Hearts" opposite Salma Hayek and James Gandolfini.

Preston next stars in the upcoming family superhero adventure "Sky High," which will be released in the summer.

Travolta Pilots Own Jet to 'Cool' London Premiere

"Be Cool" actor John Travolta redefined cool at the London premiere of his latest film.
The 51-year-old actor crossed the Atlantic Ocean by piloting his own jet on Sunday, March 6, to greet British fans, reports the AP.

"Yesterday we left the house, kissed the kids goodbye, then we went into the back yard, got in a jet and flew to London. That was pretty cool," Travolta says Monday. Wife, actress Kelly Preston, was a passenger.

Travolta is an accomplished pilot who can fly a multitude of jet aircraft, including three Gulfstream jets and a Learjet. He and Preston have also named their son Jett.

In the sequel to "Get Shorty," Chili Palmer (Travolta) falls out of love with the movie biz and instead gets involved with the music industry, a murder, more mobsters, and a gay bodyguard who wants to be a singer.

For its North American debut, "Be Cool" opened at the No. 2 spot at the weekend box office with $23.5 million in ticket sales.

Reunion for Travolta and Thurman

Hollywood stars John Travolta and Uma Thurman are to co-star in a film for the first time since their partnership in 1994's Pulp Fiction. The pair will star together in Be Cool, a sequel to Get Shorty which originally starred Travolta. The Tarantino movie was made famous by Travolta and Thurman's participation in a restaurant dance contest.

Travolta, 51, said he was "excited" to be back with Thurman, and that filming "interrupted our conversations".

The actors praised their on-screen chemistry, while Thurman, 34, said it was "very touching" to work again with someone she has such a connection to. "I wouldn't even have thought sitting with John when we met - I was kind of a gnarly little 23-year-old - that we had such screen chemistry," added the actress.

The pair's presence in Pulp Fiction also involved an infamous drugs storyline, when Thurman's character Mia overdosed, prompting Travolta's Vincent to inject her with shot of adrenaline.
Their new characters in Be Cool are said to be model citizens compared to their Pulp Fiction predecessors.

Thurman is also starring in the film remake of stage show hit The Producers, alongside Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick. "I'm in heaven. I'm in absolute hog-pig heaven. I'm really, literally having the best experience," said Thurman. She also went on to become the star of Tarantino's Kill Bill movies.

Travolta Set For Cross-Dressing 'Hairspray' Role

John Travolta is in negotiations to play larger-than-life Edna Turnblad in the upcoming 'Hairspray' movie remake.

Transvestite Divine played the part in the original John Waters movie and the role has since been played by Harvey Fierstein and funnyman Bruce Vilanch in the Broadway musical version of the story.

Travolta's a favorite after befriending screenwriter Leslie Dixon on the set of 'Look Who's Talking Now.' Dixon has just been appointed the screenwriter of the new 'Hairspray' film.

John Travolta Takes On A Nightim Existance To Avoid Fans

TRAVOLTA'S NOCTURNAL EXISTENCE

Hollywood star JOHN TRAVOLTA sleeps during the day and carries out his business at night to avoid the unwanted attention of obsessive fans.

The PULP FICTION icon doesn't get up until 5pm and his two children - ELLA, 4, and JETT, twelve - keep to the same schedule even though his wife KELLY PRESTON was unhappy about the idea at first.
The 50-year-old explains his unorthodox working hours, "In the daytime I get recognised."

On the subject of his kids, Travolta adds, "Half because they like it and half because that's when they get to see Dad.
"Kelly wasn't too fond of it. But she's come around. I feel like as long as they get eight hours' sleep, I don't care when they go to bed. I don't care what they eat as long as it's nutritious."

John Travolta: Back For Good

He's had more comebacks than the proverbial boomerang, so much so, he's been dubbed The Comeback Kid but ask John Travolta what he makes of his yo-yo career and he looks genuinely bemused.

"You know what I was never aware of it," he says. "Kirstie Alley, who I worked with, told everyone that I was never aware of having cooled off and it's true. Until I got hired for Pulp Fiction I didn't know I had cooled off. Maybe it was self-protection I don't know."

Even if Travolta is blissfully unaware of his movie-making highs and lows, his adoring fans aren't. He may have put the odd toe-tapping foot wrong since he burst on the scene strutting his stuff in Saturday Night Fever, but he's always welcomed back from the movie wilderness with open arms.

That's probably because Travolta has a reputation in the business for being a true gentleman and one of the nicest stars around. Happily, meeting him in the flesh, confirms that really is the case.

Striding into the room, all 6ft 2ins of him. Travolta has that rare thing, genuine movie-star charisma - in bucket loads. At 47-years old he's heavier than his svelte-like Saturday Night Fever days, but the penetrating blue eyes are as sparkling as ever and there's still a full head of coal black hair.

So, how does he really feel about the constant references to his fluctuating size and career?

"I love it," he says with a broad grin. "The more they talk about my comebacks and my gaining weight and my losing weight, that's great. I've been around to long to worry about it."

Born to a large Italian-Irish family in Englewood, New Jersey, Travolta has been on the acting scene for most of his adult life. He first gained success in America in the TV series Welcome Back Kotter but it was at the age of 24, that he became an international superstar with Saturday Night Fever, followed a year later by the box office hit Grease.

But as quickly as he gained his superstar status he lost it with the flop 1978 movie Moment By Moment. Travolta spent the next decade appearing in unmemorable offerings until he found himself back at the top again with his Oscar-nominated role in Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction.
Since then it's been a roller-coaster ride of major hits (Primary Colors, Face/Off) and spectacular misses (Battlefield Earth). But he's back on fighting form again with his latest movie Swordfish, a cyberspace terrorist thriller also starring Halle Berry and Australian Hugh Jackman.

In the film Travolta plays Gabriel Shear, the world's most dangerous man, who attempts to steal billions of pounds in illegal government funds, with the help of a superhacker (Jackman).

Travolta's performance in the explosive thriller has received plenty of praise from the critics but he admits his computer whizkid role required some serious acting skills.

"I am not at all computer literate in real life," he smiles. "I haven't yet found a reason to be. Once I find a reason why I need to be on the Internet then I will be."

The movie has already gained plenty of publicity as it features a topless Halle Berry. The actress admits she was nervous about the scene but Travolta had no such reservations.

"When I found out about it I made a beeline for the set," he says with an uproarious laugh. In fact he was so impressed with the stunning actress he asked the crew for a round of applause in appreciation of her body.

However, his wife, actress Kelly Preston needn't worry. The couple, are thought to have one of the most solid marriages in showbusiness and Travolta is refreshingly down to earth about the secret of their success.

"Mostly it's the motivation of not wanting to be single. That helps a lot," he laughs, before adding seriously. "We believe in communication and we use that to solve problems."

The pair, who met on the 1989 movie The Experts, have two children Jett, nine, and Ella Bleu, one and Travolta insists he's never separated from his family for too long.

"They come with me on location and I have it written into my contract that I will be done every day by 6pm no matter what," he explains, "By that time Jett is home from school. We sit down, turn off the phone and have our quality time. I can't tell you how much I treasure that."

With a fee of 20 million dollars a movie, Travolta could afford to have as much quality time as he likes with the family but the versatile star has no intention of disappearing from view again.

He says he has one big ambition left - to appear in another big screen musical. However, it won't be in the much talked about movie adaptation of the stage show Chicago.

"It's been offered to me three times," he reveals, "But I don't know how it would translate into a movie. Pissed off hookers that's what it's about. I don't know how that would work, on the big screen." he grins.

John Travolta Learns to 'Be Cool!'

In a leaky brick warehouse just next to a railroad in downtown Los Angeles, John Travolta calms Uma Thurman before they shoot a scene for the "Get Shorty" sequel, "Be Cool!"

Travolta points out a revolving lamp that sits on a front desk of the set that has been transformed into a hip, modern record company and he names the kinds of jets on the lamp. Then, he snaps into character and becomes the ruthless Chili Palmer.

"Chili is one of my favorite characters," says Travolta during a break. "He's like the James Bond of the streets, but he's also a guy with a kind of enthusiasm, with a childlike passion for movies, music and this industry."

In the sequel to the story penned by novelist Elmore Leonard, Palmer abandons the movie-making industry and becomes a music mogul, bringing his wiseguy mobster mentality to the world of rap and hip-hop. Travolta, who has made a few records of his own during his "Saturday Fever Days," laughs when Zap2it.com asks him if the music industry is more dangerous than the movie biz.

,p> "Yes, because I think the kind of Mafia influence in the music industry is a little more historic," says Travolta. "Even before 'Grease' when I did records, even as a kid, I could sense leveraging going on around me, and there definitely was a heavier vibe than there was a movie vibe."

Although he's met a few sleazy characters in his day (and played them, too, most recently in "The Punisher"), Travolta says, "Chili is not a mimic of anything I know, but a compilation of many people I reflect on growing up in the movie industry and on the street. He's an original guy. He's a Sean Connery of the street. In the book, the details guide you how to play it."

He says he suggested Uma Thurman for the role, reprising the chemistry they had in "Pulp Fiction." As she's off in the corner of the set playing with her children between takes while a makeup person sprays her hair incessantly, he says, "I'm wonderful friends with Uma, I love her, and I like us on the screen together, we have a natural chemistry and trust each other on screen. It's a wonderful thing to have that professional experience."

Although other top-rated actresses wanted the part, she ended up taking the exotic role as Palmer's main squeeze. Travolta says that although he, like Palmer, probably prefers Frank Sinatra, he's aware of other new music.

"I have tons of CDs and musicians that they've been giving me that I should be familiar with, but I've known about Black Eyed Peas, some gangsta rap, and Outkast, of course," says Travolta. Outkast's frontman Andre 3000 has done so well in his small part as a band member for an agent played by Cedric the Entertainer, the musician's part was expanded, and he's become a scene stealer.

A makeup person brushes ash off the shoulder of Thurman's peach outfit and she puts out her Marlboro cigarette while another assistant takes away her knitting, which she works on during down time. She and Travolta re-take their scene a dozen times with Paul Adelstein as Hy and Kimberly J. Brown as Tiffany, two office workers in Palmer's music company.

The dialogue involves mentions of Madonna, Vanilla Ice and Aerosmith. Interrupted by a train going past the warehouse, Travolta adlibs, "I'll take the Amtrak to San Diego!"

Director F. Gary Gray throws down his NYN baseball cap and yells "Cut!" They take a break and he eats fruit salad and drinks tea. He directed "Friday," "A Man Apart" and "The Italian Job," but now he's taking on a sequel featuring a classic character.

"I'm not worried because the script was great from the beginning," Gray says. "I can have my own stamp on this because the only existing character is Chili Palmer, and he's in a whole new environment. It's much more dangerous and much more contemporary."

After spending 15 years in the music business, (he won an MTV Award for directing TLC's "Waterfall" video) Gray says he's having fun working with Travolta and Thurman, as well as a directing a duet between Travolta and Harvey Keitel. Earlier in the day, Gray filmed James Woods being murdered in an over-the-top fashion, becoming the movie's first victim. The Oscar-nominated actor throws in different quirks in every take, pulling on his zipper in one shot, telling a joke in another shot.

After his scene is done, he's filmed while dancing crazily -- clown dancing, the call it -- so they can use it in the closing credits of the film.

Travolta looks across the warehouse and says, "I'm not going to do that!" When a crew member explains they'll want everyone to do it some point, Travolta smiles and says, "Now I'm nervous. I don't want to look silly. But then, I saw James Woods do it, and I guess I have nothing to worry about."

"Be Cool!" is scheduled for release on March 4, 2005.

John Travolta: "The Punisher"

John Travolta continues to enjoy a strong resurgence these days, and he's having a ball doing it. Whether he's the villain of latest comic book film The Punisher, or reprising his wonderful role of Chili Palmer in Be Cool, Travolta loves being an actor, and loves talking to the press. PAUL FISCHER reports.

Question: Was it important that this villain be more serious than some of your more comic villains like in "Broken Arrow"?

Answer: I think the key here is the more serious he was, the funnier he became. I wasn't sure I was going to play this until the last minute because I had to see what Thomas Jane was doing and the rest of the cast. When I found out they were playing it dead serious, and that was pretty funny, I thought, 'Okay. I'm gonna play it subtle and serious and it will be funny'. It's funny because most comic strip movies think they have to do the other and the more we played it like we were in a Scorsese movie, the funnier it became.

Question: You do believe that your character is out to avenge his son and you can identify with him at first.

Answer: You can?

Question: His wife was the bad guy.

Answer: Yes. This is a very interesting point. I think that the brilliance of the movie is that the two have the same button pushed in the opening and you go 'oh my God, I understand this but where's the dilemma? Who is going to be the real enemy here?' I do agree that the wife takes it- - He's just happy with tit for tat, get the guy who killed my son, end. She's the one who just can't stand the idea that it's not going to be everything to make her feel better. Of course, when you get to know her character more, you realize everything is very lustful in her life so it carries through.

Question: The casting of you and Laura was great.

Answer: I did too. I liked that. That's Jonathan's fully, his idea. He just wanted a very sexy relationship. He wanted my character to be obsessed with her. My character is obsessed with her differently than the Punisher is obsessed with his family. His is kind of a healthy obsession with his family and mine's kind of a possession obsession, you know. But they do push the same buttons in each family but from different levels. One is the high road and one the low road.

Question: Your character doesn't come from the comic books?

Answer: No. This is a new character and I had to ask a lot of questions about him because there wasn't anything to base him on. I had to come up with an original. I thought, 'well, if I play it over the top, how do I do it?' And I kind of had this idea of kind of a Spidery villain that was really funny and almost grotesque in a way. Then it was whittled away. The way I was playing it was not where we were going with it. I'm just showing up for a very serious performance here.

Question: So, how are you dealing with being 50?

Answer: Slowly I turn, step by step.

Question: You had a big party.

Answer: Well, us baby boomers, unfortunately have this eternal- - really, I've known from the time I was a kid. We're the largest group of people on the planet and we will not let it go! It's like 'older? Middle-aged? No!' It's really amazing.

Question: What was the party like?

Answer: It was amazing. Where do I start? It was a true surprise. I did ask my wife a year ago, I wanted a big party but then I decided quickly that the logistics would be way too much so I decided that I would not want the big party. So she fooled me for a year with lies and deception. My God, the dunce cap got bigger and bigger. 'I wonder why all these corporate planes are here? It's more than I've ever seen. It must be that golf tournament'. There were three hundred people waiting in the lobby and I'm thinking it's employees and I said 'see, look There are no free rides. Those two free rooms and the jet ride down here, we didn't need it and now we're gonna sign autographs and take pictures with all these employees the whole weekend'. And then I see Barbra Streisand and Oprah walk toward me. 'What are they doing here?' I think somewhere I perceived that something big was going to go on but she kept fooling me with saying 'oh, you're going to be so disappointed it you think anything big is happening because I got a couple of people for you. I tried'.

Question: How much different do you feel than the guy from "Saturday Night Fever" has changed ?

Answer: I love you (to Todd). Well, my hair's not as big. He looks like my son in the movie. You wanna know a piece of trivia? That boy that plays my son in the movie.. he plays both parts, by the way, he was in the Broadway production of "Saturday Night Fever" so they hired him. He's a great dancer and singer. That's why he was immediately thought of.

Question: You are doing "Be Cool" right now. What is generally your take on sequels?

Answer: I don't particularly care for sequels however, Elmore Leonard wrote the book "Be Cool" and then when you start to make a whole new unit and that much time and effort to make something that good, I think it takes on a whole other life. It's a wonderful script and a great cast. And, you don't get these people to do sequels. You don't get Uma and Harvey Keitel and Vince Vaughn to do these kinds of things so you know that it has to be high end script. And it's based on Elmore's very good sequel book. The opening line of the movie is 'Sequels'. Chili Palmer is fed up with them. The sequel that he did in the movie "Get Shorty" didn't work so he'd fed up with sequels. So it's very hip.

Question: What's happened to Renee and Gene's characters?

Answer: They aren't referred to because he's moving out of the movie industry and he's looking for a new horizon. He stumbles upon the music industry which is far funnier than the movie industry.

Question: What did you learn from "Staying Alive" and the "Look Who's Talking" sequels?

Answer: It's not that you learn anything. Usually it's just a studio's efforts to cash in on the success of the first thing and again, the difference is that Elmore Leonard really put his- - he loves- - It's his favorite, "Get Shorty" so he wanted to make that continue so he thought the best way to do it is to write another book about Chili Palmer. And that I preferred, that someone else made the first step as opposed to a studio. And eight years or nine have gone by so a lot has evolved and mostly, Elmore Leonard doing his homework. That's the only way it's fun to do one of these things. Otherwise, I don't particularly care about it.

Question: What do you think about all the studios making comic book movies?

Answer: Well, certainly Marvel comics has an audience out there. They really want to see these stories come to life. I think that you need a basis for stories and a library of material to entertain and the kids want it so I think it's a good idea.

Question: Had your son Jett read The Punisher?

Answer: Jett's friends are older and they all had read The Punisher. So that's how I knew about it.

Question: How about you as a kid?

Answer: I wasn't a comic book person. I was lip syncing to records and things.

Question: Stunts? Was that you getting drug past the cars?

Answer: Part of it was. I was on a roller type thing.

Question: It was nice to see Clearwater in there.

Answer: I think they did a nice job of photographing it.

Question: One of the few times you could come home to work.

Answer: Which was so nice. I wish I could always have it that way. This was a lucky break. "Basic" was shot in Jacksonville and I got to do the same thing there. It was just a lucky coincidence but I did love that. Flying in to work.

Question: Where you a fan of '70's action films? Tom Jane said he saw a correlation between this and action films of the '70's.

Answer: He sure did. He really took it further. I think he did, in this film, what Clint Eastwood and Bronson and McQueen really wanted to do. He just played it to the best of his acting ability and it's the culmination of all those films that he ended up with that performance I think. I was more of an art film guy. Even all the films I do don't represent- - "She's So Lovely" probably represents the closest thing to the kind of films I liked growing up. Other than your "Yankee Doodle Dandy" and or something like that which I just thought you can't deny. I liked "La Strada" and "A Man and a Woman" and "Going Places". That was our era too. The early '60's and late '50's were filled with European directors. I came from a Beatnik house so that's what you appreciate and you're playing jazz. My sensibilities about what I like are- - I liked "Boys Don't Cry". You can't ask me about mainstream films. I'm more of another kind of, you know.

Question: What is the fascination for you for these tough crime lord guys, the "Swordfish" guy and this one? Are they just really fun to play?

Answer: Oh definitely. The lateral movement you have on this is tremendous. It frees you up completely. Not at first, because it has to kind of controlled. But by the time he starts getting paranoid, then the fun begins. Because, since Joan Crawford and Bette Davis, honestly, nobody has been able to walk down staircases like I get to in this movie. Let's face it. In the first one, I come down to kill my best friend; it's down a staircase talking about some historic character and the second one is throwing all her luggage...boom! And then that big staircase and I'm saying all these mean things. It's a blast.

Question: At what point does playing such grandiose characters become tiring and you want to retreat to doing films like "She's So Lovely"?

Answer: But I do. This summer I have a film called "Love Song for Bobby Long" which is exactly my kind of film. Probably only five people will see it but it's a wonderful art film with Scarlett Johansson. It's a great little film.

Question: Is there are point at which you can't play a scene chewing character?

Answer: No. I did "Ladder 49" where I play a captain of a fire department and he's dead, blue collar real and fun to play. I change up as much as I can. This year, all these four films are as different as they can be. Punisher's very different than Bobby Long. Bobby Long's very different from Ladder 49 and the sequel to Get Shorty is different as well.

Question: Problems with Ladder 49 with fires?

Answer: Oh no. It's a brilliant movie. It's a really breathtaking film. It's the best firefighter film that's ever been made and I'm not even exaggerating. It's a beautiful movie. It's more along the lines of Apollo 13, that level of quality in the approach. It's by far the best homage to the firefighters. It's set in Baltimore and Joaquin Phoenix plays the young guy in it and I'm really his mentor in it. The main story is about him.

Question: Can you compare it to Backdraft at all?

Answer: It's so much more based in reality. You feel it in this. It's a beautiful story too. More importantly it doesn't play on anything but a genuine reality of what these guys are about. I love it. It's just beautiful.

Question: Would you want to be a musical? You were concerned about Chicago?

Answer: Nobody ever bothered to- - The reason this film was easy to say yes to was that Jonathan really explained what this movie was going to be about. He really took his time and told me the vision of it and why it would work. He understood it. No one ever sat with me with Chicago. I was offered it three times but no one sat and said 'Okay, look. It's going to be fantasy and it's going to be very appealing girls'. In the play it was these cold hookers that hated men. You put Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta, these are glorious women. Them hating men, you don't mind so much just like you don't mind my being the bad guy in this movie as much as you would if you had someone playing it venomously. So, those are things you have to hear in order to be invited into doing a screenplay. If I based it on just the stage show, I don't get it.

Question: Do you still want to do a film musical?

Answer: I've always wanted to do a musical.

Question: You've been in one of the most successful. When Grease was re-issued, is it true you tried to put on one of his old outfits and didn't quite succeed.

Answer: I don't know if I did or not. I don't think I'd ever even tried. I was so skinny.

Question: Thoughts on conflicting release dates of this and Kill Bill?

Answer: Yeah. I would rather it had been separated.

Question: Can you call Quentin about it?

Answer: We were there first in all fairness to us. However, we didn't know Kill Bill 2 would be ready and they didn't know. Then, because we are kind of the same audience in some ways. I feel bad that there is that built-in competition. Probably what will happen is we'll both do fine and we'll share the audience or something.

Question: Do you still have hopes to do the second half of Battlefield Earth?

Answer: I don't know. It did well but it would really depend on they wanted to do it. They have the rights to it. It would be up to them really to do it. Warner Bros. Doesn't have the rights, it's Elie Samaha. It would be up to him.

Question: What's the worst punishment you've ever received?

Answer: Soap in the mouth for saying 'shut up'! Didn't work with me.

Question: Did Quentin tell you his new idea for Vega Brothers?

Answer: No. I heard it though a journalist that said Michael Madsen had mentioned something about it. But that's up to Quentin. I don't question him. I wouldn't even ask him. He'll tell me. He did it the first time. Someone said I had to vie to be in one of his films and I said 'I didn't the first time. Why would I have to that this time? He'll let me know'.

Question: Do you an Uma have any side bets as to who is going to win the weekend?

Answer: I don't even want to go there. Uma and I are so noncompetitive. It's like 'oh why did they do it to us?' I love her. She loves me. Shucks, you know.

John Travolta: "Basic"

John Travolta knows how to effortlessly warm up a room. As he enters the New York hotel room in which he is about to hold court with a gathering media, one can sense he is in a good mood. “I have no reason to be in a good mood, do I?” he says jokingly, despite being up late the night before. “Connie [Nielsen] invited us all out to dinner, first a few drinks in her loft and then we saw the group from the movie, the producers and friends of hers, and then we had this very beautiful dinner at an Austrian restaurant in the Village before we went to her friend’s nightclub for 30 minutes. Then I came home, but that’s a lot for an old geezer like me,” Travolta says laughingly. Yet the 49-year old appears ageless, and even in his latest film, Basic, the veteran Hollywood star bares his taut chest. “I worked hard at it, don’t worry”, he says. “It was a lot of work to get this body to look like that.” In Basic, Travolta plays Tom Hardy, a DEA agent investigating the disappearance of a legendary Army ranger drill sergeant {Samuel L. Jackson} and several of his cadets during a training exercise gone severely awry. That of course is the simple précis of a film which is far more complicated and has more twists that appear on the surface. With all the scripts thrown in his direction these days, one wonders: why this one? “Well, besides thinking that it had a lot of originality to it, I did think that I could do a good job of portraying that character. I have to think that and actually believe that I can give it something different than someone else could.”

The actor says that Tom Hardy is different to anyone else he has played, despite the character’s inherent coolness, which the actor has often personified in the past. “I think this is a new character. I’ve never played someone that’s kind of smart, cool, yet not psychotic,” he says with a wry smile. “All my really cool characters that are smart always seem to be some calculating psycho of some sort. This guy is cool and smart and funny without any of the nuttiness, almost craftier than someone like Chili Palmer in Get Shorty, because he is manipulating on a multi-level concept at all times so I felt like wow, I get to be kind of a puppeteer and all these other good things, and if I get the body in good enough shape, I could use that as a tool to distract Connie Nielsen’s character. “

Travolta knows he has to be careful when discussing Basic, with all its endless surprises, twists and turns. “It’s only as hard to talk about it as one thinks it's wise to reveal any details. I think the audiences get so excited at the surprises that it’s kind of fun to lead it that way, because how often do you get a movie where actually people are surprised? Most people can figure it out in the first five minutes, while this one really takes a lot of work to figure it out. I remember I did the movie and I was really happy watching it and thinking, oh how cool.”

As successful as Travolta has become, in a career spanning close to four decades, the happily married actor and father, continues to be driven by his work. He loves it. “I think working makes me feel better. I like feeling productive and creative and I’ve even taken on other avenues.” Such as his ongoing relationship with QANTAS “because I think it is important to do that. I also think it is even more important to be busy as you get older in order to distract the idea that you ARE so old. I’ve always imagined luxuriating when I was young and getting busy when I was old just to keep those negative thoughts out of there so I enjoy the process of all of this.”

He doesn’t necessarily enjoy revisiting his older films, except by accident. Though enamoured of the DVD revolution, the actor concedes that he hasn’t had the luxury of re-visiting his movies, “but I do get a kick if by accident when I see a film on television, and I’ll forget how good something is. One day I stumbled upon Primary Colors and said, oh God that was a good one or Get Shorty, and I’ll go, oh that scene was pretty good or Michael, stumbling down the stairs with the gut and think, wow that was so cool I got to do that.”

Of all the classic films Travolta has starred in, the most talked about still remains Grease, almost 30 years after the screen musical became a smash hit. “You can’t kill that movie; it’s a freak of nature. I’m amazed at how it has held up for 25 years. I saw Yankee Doodle Dandy when it was only 20 years old and I knew it was an old movie, for example, but nobody knows that Grease is an old movie,” he says laughingly.

Recently Travolta attended the lavish launch party for the film’s DVD release in Los Angeles and reluctantly returned to the stage performing with old friend and flame, Olivia Newton-John. Travolta recalls that he hadn’t performed live in 25 years, “so it’s kind of like gees, I got suddenly thrown into a voice I had 25 years ago, which was higher, but I did it, and I sang with her because Olivia really wanted me to, even though I didn’t feel like I needed to because the DVD was coming out whether I sang or not. But it’s hard to say no to Olivia, which is probably the reason we’re not together today,” Travolta adds smilingly. As to those widespread internet rumours that both have signed to do a Grease 3, Travolta doesn’t seem so keen on the idea and admits that he has definitely not signed on. “I haven’t seen anything on it. I just know that they’re working on something but I'm hoping there are some other musicals that will take this rare window of opportunity that we have with musicals,” he says referring to recent box office champs Moulin Rouge and Chicago. “There’s this window of opportunity, and if I could find one soon before that shuts down, then I could probably do it.” Musicals he would love to revisit include such diverse classics as Guys and Dolls or even An American in Paris, which he says remains one of favourite musicals, “but I think it’s too much of a classic to try to remake.” As to his all-time favourite musical, Yankee Doodle Dandy starring James Cagney is way on top of his list. “I knew Cagney from the time he was 80 to the time he was 85, and I spent a lot of time with him. As a matter of fact, last year in the New York Times I did an exposé with a writer on Yankee Doodle Dandy. I watched the movie with the writer and we had five pages in the New York Times of what the effect that movie had on us. I sat and I cried with this journalist, and then he would start to cry a little bit because it was contagious. That’s a movie that’s held up for me, emotionally, where he talked about the death of his dad, and this Irish thing that always gets to me, because I'm half Irish and it just twists my emotional button. It’s pretty amazing.”

Travolta remains a true Hollywood survivor, having outgrown an adolescent career that helped define an era, through to his Second Coming dancing once again to glory in Pulp Fiction. The actor admits that he has been lucky that amidst his failures, he does have a movie legacy about which he is proud. “I’ve been fortunate that so many of my films have stood the test of time.” It hasn’t been an easy road for Travolta, of course. There have been the classics that made him a star and the failures that nobody cared about. His worst moments came before Pulp Fiction, when he was so cold that Quentin Tarantino had to fight to cast him, putting his entire reputation on the line in the process. Travolta was paid some $140,000 for that film, in contrast to his usual millions. Yet looking back, Travolta is both philosophical and insightful. "You're always available," he says of actors, even cold ones. "I always viewed it as if I was a generator that was not hooked up to the electricity. You've always got the ability to perform but, if the studio decides to pull the plug on that, then you're just a workable generator at a distance."

These days, the generator that is John Travolta is back on, hopefully for years to come.

 

Travolta's 'Love Song' -- Yet Another Comeback?

How many times can you have a comeback? John Travolta smiles when Zap2it asks him if he's irritated when pundits call his latest film, "A Love Song for Bobby Long," his new "comeback movie" like they did when "Pulp Fiction" and "Primary Colors" came around.

"It's an artistic reference, it's not that you don't exist and you're not doing movies," the actor says. "It's this: 'Did you do the movie that appealed to a group of journalists and critics and an audience that says he's an artist?' That's all it is. It's not if you've been busy, been working, been starving, it's none of that. There's a hidden note that says, 'He's keeping up his chops as an artist.' That's what I gather from it."

After big-budget action movies last year where he played the bad guy in "The Punisher" and the hero in "Ladder 49," this meandering tale set in New Orleans seems quite different for Travolta. He plays an alcoholic former professor who lives with a young protege (played by Gabriel Macht) in a house that's suddenly owned by a jaded teen, (played by Scarlett Johansson) after her mother dies.

He understands the criticism, and the spotlight when he takes on indie projects like this, saying, "I feel the best when I get to spread my wings as an artist, but sometimes you spread your wings and it's not agreed upon either. It's subjective. As long as I'm still here talking to you, I don't care what you call it."

The two times he was nominated for a best actor Oscar were for "Saturday Night Fever," during the height of the disco era in 1977 and for "Pulp Fiction," during his first "big comeback" in 1994. Since then, he's been honored for works such as "Get Shorty" and "Primary Colors" and vilified for "Domestic Disturbance" and "Battlefield Earth."

"The [American] Cinemateque did a tribute to me nine years ago," says the 50-year-old actor. "I think that once you've hit 40 and you've been around since 12 doing movies, there's no choice, but to do some sort of tribute. It doesn't make me feel older and broken like my character in 'Bobby Long.' "

Johansson's mother recommended him for the role, and first-time director Shainee Gabel worried about working with such a star, saying, "John is the 800-pound gorilla, but he didn't act that way on the set, he was always equal with everyone else."

Travolta insists, "Often in the tiny movies you get to stretch the most. I mean, I've had the good luck of stretching even big studio movies as in 'Primary Colors' or 'A Civil Action.' But where you get to take the most chances is often in these independent movies. Life and living it contributed to this character. I couldn't have done it at 23. That's the luxury of getting older, you get to be more right in characters."

Travolta says he's met plenty of people like Bobby Long, and it was his idea to whiten his hair prematurely. "I've been on the receiving end of an alcoholic where they're wicked to you and the unedited verbiage that comes out of their heads and you go, 'Whoa,' but he's also a bright, and very poetic," he says.

Dressed in all black -- v-neck shirt, jacket and pants and close-cropped hair, he adds, "It's all about how you look, too, imagine if I looked the way that I look now in 'Pulp Fiction.' It would've been a harder sell."

He compares Johansson, who was inducted in the Motion Picture Academy last year after her role in "Lost in Translation," to Marilyn Monroe. "Elizabeth Taylor was a freak of nature, as was Brigitte Bardot, Marilyn Monroe. I think that she is light years ahead for her age."

When he first met Macht and Johansson, he took them out for a shot of whiskey and a round of pool so they could get friendly. Macht tellsZap2it , "He was great on the set, singing show tunes, telling stories. I remember first seeing him in 'Grease' and saying, 'I want to do what that guy does.' "

Travolta gave his young co-stars homework, however, just like the professor he plays. When quotes from Robert Frost or T.S. Elliot were quoted in the film, the superstar looked them up and handed out information sheets. "I did research and would say, 'OK, we're doing these quotes tomorrow. Is everyone familiar with them?'"

Travolta relishes playing broken people, and he'll next be seen in March in the comedy "Be Cool," the sequel to "Get Shorty" that again features his flawed, but confident gangster Chili Palmer. Until then, "A Love Song for Bobby Long" expands nationwide through the end of January during awards season.

" I think that the story mostly says that broken people can be helpful, that they have something to offer," Travolta says. "But you learn that regardless of how broken they are, there might still be something there for each other."

John Travolta sings a new 'Love Song'

JOHN Travolta is selling his new movie, "A Love Song for Bobby Long," but he's ready to talk about anything — even the neon orange, flower-print skirt his interviewer is wearing.
It reminds him of the bright fashions that were around in the 1960s and'70s when he was a kid, he says, nice as can be.

In San Francisco at the Ritz-Carlton last month to promote the movie, Travolta, just a few minutes late for the interview, pops into one of the hotel's sitting rooms, shakes my hand and sits down right next to me on a love seat.

Wearing a baseball cap, T-shirt, black sport coat and jeans, he doesn't quite look his 50 years. He certainly looks a lot healthier than the film's title character, a wasting-away, self-destructive former literature professor in New Orleans whose life becomes irrevocably entwined with the teenage daughter (played by Scarlett Johansson) of an old friend who dies.

He was pleased to be asked to do the role by Johansson and her mother, who co-produced the movie, because he admired its Southern, Tennessee Williams-style script and because the Bobby Long character presented new challenges for him after 38 years of acting.

"It allowed me to be the actor I feel I can be. It gave me something to do," he says. He enjoyed making a huge physical transformation and changing his vocal quality.

While he's played Southerners before — most notably the Clintonesque governor in "Primary Colors" and the lead in "Urban Cowboy" — he claims Bobby Long is a different, more classic character that represents Faulkner's and Williams' "voice of America" that went out of fashion in the 1970s but is coming back in style.

As a literary person, Bobby Long gets to spout famous quotes throughout the film, some of which Travolta obligingly repeats on request, such as Robert Frost's "Happiness makes up in height what it lacks in length."

He calls the role "a beautiful opportunity to share the literary world. At the end of the day," he says, "this is important for young people."

The film, written and directed by Shainee Gabel in her debut, also presents an unconventional, ultimately positive portrait of a family, Travolta says. "The characters don't give up on each other. They're allowed to exist without judgment."

Raised in New Jersey by parents whom he describes as "slightly avant garde," Travolta had a good family life growing up.

"We were all free-thinkers. We were free to express ourselves and perform. Where else do you get that?" he says, adding that he knew he would be an actor since he was 5.

Taking into account all the characters he's portrayed, including admittedly iconic ones such as Danny Zuko from "Grease" and Tony Manero from "Saturday Night Fever," Travolta has a hard time coming up with the one who's most like him in real life. He settles on "the guy in 'Look Who's Talking.'" (The character's name is James Ubriacco.)

"I don't really know who I am," he says. "Nic Cage had a terrible time trying to play me in 'Face Off.'"

He's OK talking about some of his flops. His least favorite movie was 1978's "Moment by Moment" with Lily Tomlin. While he was thrilled to work with Tomlin — a "comic genius onstage" — and her respected partner, writer Jane Wagner, the problem was that the project was a dated melodrama, not a comedy.

"It didn't really work. We chose the wrong genre. It was really that simple," he says.

"Staying Alive," the flimsy sequel to "Saturday Night Fever," was something he was under contract to do. Although he admits it's not the greatest movie, he enjoyed that Sylvester Stallone came aboard. He still thinks it's fun, in a cheesy way.

We don't talk about "Battlefield Earth," a critically derided film based on a science fiction book by L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology.

But Travolta does say he's practiced Scientology for 30 years, calling it the "fastest growing" religious/philosophical movement. In the minute we have to cover the topic, he makes it sound downright convenient, how it helps people solve problems in an orderly fashion and subtract stress from their lives.

The biggest movie musical he was offered, but didn't do, was "Chicago," 2002's best film Oscar winner. "Nobody seduced me with a vision," says Travolta, who knew the late Bob Fosse, creator of the original, darker Broadway version. (He claims Fosse wouldn't necessarily have liked the hit film.)

In the meantime, he enjoyed the touch of music in "A Love Song for Bobby Long," when Bobby, who fashions himself as a troubadour in some of his few lighthearted moments, strums a guitar and sings folk songs. Although the successes in his mid- and recent career have taken him away from musicals ("Pulp Fiction" and "Get Shorty"), Travolta just about agrees when I say it's a shame that's the case.

"I seem to sing and dance by accident," he admits. He says he has a semblance of a musical project in development. I press him for details, but it's the only question he won't answer in our 30-minute chat. I'm not upset by it, either. He's so swell, I just about believe him when he says he'll tell me about it when we meet again.

John Travolta, Alicia Keys, Tim McGraw, U2 to appear at Grammy Awards

Actor John Travolta will present a statuette at next month's Grammy Awards, while songstress Alicia Keys, Irish rockers U2 and country star Tim McGraw will perform at the show, producers said Thursday.

Also doing musical turns at the show in Los Angeles will be Grammy-nominated punk rock outfit Green Day, while US comedienne Ellen Degeneres and singer Christine Milian will present awards.

Producers of music's top honours last week announced that red-hot musical diva and movie star Queen Latifah would host the 47th annual Grammy Awards, which will be held at the Staples Center on February 13.

John Travolta: 'I felt like the luckiest guy in the world'


John Travolta tells Tiffany Rose how the modest heroism of New York's firefighters inspired him to make Ladder 49.

John Travolta is always on time. You could set your watch by him. Unlike many of his Hollywood contemporaries, Travolta has respect for an awaiting journalist on a deadline. As predicted, dead on the hour, looking every bit the movie star at 50, his burly 6ft 2in frame appears in the doorway of the swanky penthouse hotel suite, the setting to discuss his new firefighting drama, Ladder 49.

"Nice to see you again," he says, offering a slow-motion handshake with a measured smile of a statesman. Travolta is the antithesis of Tinseltown showbiz. He is approachable; there are no topics barred, and there is not a whiff of affectation. In fact, you would be hard pushed to find a derogatory word said about Travolta. And the reason why? I suspect he appreciates Hollywood giving him a second chance.

After spending much of the Eighties and early Nineties making mediocre movies, Travolta became hot property again with Pulp Fiction. Everyone, it seemed, celebrated his reinstatement as a film icon, and for a while his star burned bright. However, a decade on and a few cinematic miss fires later - Lucky Numbers, Swordfish, Domestic Disturbance - the word on the street is that Travolta needs another hit. Yet the actor is not so sure that commercial success is necessarily the answer.

"Warren Beatty told me something years ago," he chimes, opening his piercing blue eyes widely. "He said don't worry about the success of your movies, worry about doing good movies, because that will give you longevity. And I think he was absolutely right and that's what I try to do, make good movies because nobody can predict success."

In his slow, marshmallowy tone, Travolta reasons: "And if you try to predict success, you're going to live a roller-coaster life. Forget about that roller-coaster experience. Even with Ladder 49, which I think is magnificent; I have to accept the possibility that this could go the other way too.

"It's the same thing with Pulp Fiction. In fact, it's the same with every hit or failure I've ever had. You go in thinking: 'Well, how do you like it? Oh good we won, OK.' So, you can only do your best work and choose the best movie to be in."

Despite some disappointing box- office returns for films such as Battlefield Earth and Basic, Travolta's price tag has remained at $20m (£10.6m) a role. "What I learnt," he offers candidly of the difficult period in his life, "is that I'd gone knee-deep into a cynical black hole, and it put me on a spiral where I could hardly function. All this information about how art works, how art comes out of depression and suffering - that the darker you are, the more depth you have, I finally learnt that that isn't true.

"Art fills my life with joy. If I act well, I make you feel a certain way. Violins and the French horn make me cry. Picasso's paintings do something different to me than Edward Hopper's paintings, but they both alter my perspective on life. Without art, all hopes and dreams go out of the window. I've had ups and downs in my life, but I was still acting. I was pleased, and that's why it was hard for people to look at me and go: 'Come on John, don't you have resentment?' No, I felt like I was the luckiest guy in the world because they were paying me to act in movies. That was marvellous to me!"

The youngest of six children, Travolta always relished the spotlight as a child, long before he pulsed his polyester-wrapped pelvis in 1977's Saturday Night Fever, as Tony Manero, a role which garnered him his first Oscar nomination. Travolta recalls the first time he received the Academy nod: "My mother wasn't feeling well, and when they announced the winner, she couldn't make out if I'd won or not, and so she whispered to my father: 'Did he win?' And my dad replied: 'No.' And she said: 'Good.' Because she knew that I'd have something to aim for still. Although I'd liked to have won, being nominated was still a big deal to me. I cherished the honour."

Growing up in a middle-class New Jersey home, to Salvatore, a tyre shop owner and Helen, a drama teacher, Travolta performed plays in the living room. With his parents' blessing, he left school at 16 to pursue an acting career in New York, which subsequently led to his break on the US comedy television series, Welcome Back, Kotter.

"I was a hyper-active kid," he says sagely. "Sugar was my problem. In my era, we were all on a sugar high. We would eat a lot of candy and go: 'Ahhhh!' Then, we'd crash and that was interpreted as being a child. Now, we interpret it as being a child on sugar. So, when you ask what kind of child was I, I was the kind who was an obnoxious, sugar fed, up-and-down kid, who finally learnt at about age 12, that when you ate something healthy you felt a lot better."

Travolta's career has had dazzling highs and some character-building lows. When Travolta turned down American Gigolo and An Officer and A Gentleman, Richard Gere became a star. Tom Hanks benefited whenTravolta refusedSplash. However, you can't fault the seasoned actor for making poor film choices.

"I always viewed things positively. When I took my first dive in '85, I never viewed it as: 'Oh gee,' but more like: 'Wow, I was the biggest movie star in the world, isn't that something?' I can tell my grandkids about this. I held that positive and then it turned into a positive again, and I never lose sight of that.
"They thought I was gone, and I'm not trying to say I fooled myself, but I didn't worry about it. It's like if you buy a new car and someone dents it, you can say: 'Well, to hell with the car, its over.' Or you can say: 'Why I still have a great car, I can get it fixed.'"

Ladder 49 tells the heartwarming story of a fresh-faced firefighter rookie, Jack (Joaquin Phoenix), who gamely falls for the pranks his truck mates play on him. During the course of a decade, he not only falls in love and starts a family, but earns the trust of his peers as well as his big-hearted, but stern chief, Mike Kennedy (Travolta). This story is presented in flashbacks, while Jack is trapped in a blazing building.

Playing a figure of authority came easily to Travolta. "I had natural seniority, so that helped," he chirps. "They all grew up with me and I am a figure for them off camera. So on camera it was easier to grab that authority. But they're all very powerful actors too, so I had to get their attention by throwing a chair, and letting them have it."

If Ladder 49 had been made at any other time, it would have involved a crew of fearless firefighters hot on the trail of a serial arsonist. One of the firefighters would have fallen in love with a girl who would be kidnapped by the bad guy just in time for a nail-biting finale. But as this script was given the go-ahead in the ultra-patriotic wake of 11 September 2001, the film instead acts as a sober and, at times, tragic celebration of heroism.

Travolta admits that the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington played a role in his decision to make the film. "Sure 9/11 shone a light of respect and a different viewpoint on the firefighters that endeared them to me. I felt a kinship of some sort and so I wanted to play one, but in the right way. In a way, it's a homage to all the firefighters, because they don't want to be looked on as heroes, and they are heroes, and they are modest, hardworking people.

"If there is only one film ever to tell a story about the firefighter, then this is it. Even Backdraft was about the arsonist."

Travolta met his wife , the actress Kelly Preston, on the set of The Experts in 1989. The couple have two children, Jett, 12, and Ella Bleu, four. He attributes his clear thinking and successful marriage to his affiliation with Scientology. Created by L Ron Hubbard, the belief has often been portrayed by the media as a religious cult. Travolta, an active member of the church, denies such accusations and is adamant the philosophy has become a way of life for him and his family. He reverently insists that Scientology has helped his marriage. "Any relationship has a better shot at longevity when two people are really right for each other. If they go off the tracks, it's still easier to fix than two people who are not right for each other at all.

"I don't care who you want to be with. If you want to be with a monkey, then fine, it doesn't matter, you both make up your needs and want list. I mean list everything you need and want from the other person: how much sex you want; what kind of food you want to eat; is your bed soft or hard: where you want to live. Then you say to yourself, 'that's my ideal scene.' Then you find someone and weigh up how close your ideal scene is to theirs." He adds: "If the inherent needs are way off, you're not even going to get through the first year, so don't even go there. It may sound unromantic, but it's that simple."

Travolta agrees that all marriages need "fixing" at some point, and his was no exception. "My wife left one thing undone and we fixed that. She forgot to say on her list, I want the man I'm with to live in California. I was living in Florida at the time, and we were commuting every week. She was like: 'This is exhausting.' We fixed it, because fortunately I had a jet!" He throws back his head and laughs.

Following a lifelong love of aviation, Travolta holds a commercial pilot's licence, and the highest pilot medical certificate. With homes in California and Maine, Travolta spends most of his time at his Florida residence, which is modelled after a Fifties airport lounge, complete with a mock flight tower and a 1.4 mile runway. He parks his two 707 planes in the driveway and employs a live-in flight crew.

He admits he only faced death once when he experienced engine failure on a flight from Florida to Maine. "I was near Washington, and there was intermittent light coming through the layer of weather, so you could see there was a big city below," he explains. "But then we lost the electric power and then we slowly lost every system. We were flying at around 600 miles an hour at 39,000 feet, but I wasn't scared."

Fear of dying did not even enter his mind, he says. "No," he looms. "I had this feeling of being really pissed off, because my wife and son - Ella wasn't born - were in the back. But it all turned out well in the end, because I made an emergency landing at a nearby airport."

He stands up to leave the suite and quips: "And the funny part was that the guys at the terminal had no idea they were helping John Travolta land his plane!"

'Ladder 49' is released today.

John Travolta devotes chapter of book to Princess Diana

John Travolta is set to devote a chapter in his forthcoming autobiography to the night he danced with the late Princess Diana.

The Hollywood actor danced with the princess, who tragically died in a car accident in 1997, during ball at the White House in 1985 and Travolta is keen to discuss it in his novel about his life.

He told Britain's Daily Mirror newspaper: "I just started the book, because if I waited any longer I'd have to write two books.

I have too many experiences that I loved in my life to not write about them.
Princess Diana is one chapter I'm writing. I haven't gotten into the details of that whole day and that evening, and the calls I got, but it's something I want to go into.

Last year, Travolta talked for the first about the magical night with Diana.

The 'Grease' star, who has two children with wife Kelly Preston, said: "I felt like a frog who had been turned into a prince."

"It was at the White House in 1985 and President Reagan's wife Nancy came over to whisper: 'I have a request from the princess. It was always her big dream so would you dance with her?'

Travolta plucked up courage and, as he took to the floor with 24-year-old Diana, the other dancers left and the band played a medley of his movie songs.

He said: "We were alone with the world watching. "She started to dance kind of strongly. So I gently pressed her hand down and put my other hand on her waist.

It was to say 'let me lead because I know what I'm doing'. She got the message and we went to town."

"We had the time of our lives. When it was over she bowed to me and I to her."

John Travolta desperate for 'The Aviator' lead

John Travolta has revealed he cannot bear to read the praise being heaped upon 'The Aviator' - because he was desperate to play the film's lead character himself.

The 'Pulp Fiction' star claims he tried to get a movie based upon the life of late film director Howard Hughes made - with the backing of the late director's wife, Terry Moore - two years ago but was turned away by all the leading studios.

He said: "I pursued it for years. Twice I tried to get that project off the ground. Terry Moore had a script written for me two years ago and I had my own script written in 1984."

The movie, directed by legendary movie-maker Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Hughes, has opened to rave reviews and been nominated for a host of Golden Globe awards.
However, Travolta - who is an avid flyer himself - claims the film only eventually got off the ground because 'The Goodfellas' director expressed a desire to be involved.

He added: "Until you get Scorsese attached, you won't get something like that done."

Travolta buys Zeppelin for Christmas

Hollywood superstar and aviation enthusiast JOHN TRAVOLTA has bought himself an $11 million (#6 million) Zeppelin airship for Christmas (04).

The PULP FICTION star, who is a qualified pilot, told wife KERRY PRESTON he "had to have" one of the eight ton flying machines after spotting it in a festive catalogue from American department store NEIMAN MARCUS.

A source says, "John was blown away by it and told Kelly he had to have one. He can't wait to fly it, but she's told him he won't get it until Christmas day."

The airship will be the third plane 49-year-old star owns. He already has a $83 million (#46 million) Boeing 707 and a Gultstream executive jet at his Florida home, which is designed to look like an old-fashioned airport with runways, arrivals hall and a departure lounge.

John Travolta ups security death threats

John Travolta has reportedly been forced to step up his personal security after a series of death threats.

The actor and his wife, Kelly Preston, were surrounded by several burly bodyguards as they attended the Hollywood Film Festival earlier this week, where Travolta received a lifetime achievement award.

No details of the threats have been revealed, but guests at the premiere of Travolta's new movie, 'A Love Song For Bobby Long', on Sunday night (17.10.04) were checked by bomb-sniffing dogs and asked to remove all pens from their pockets.
The actor's spokesman, Paul Bloch, told America's USA Today newspaper: "I think the best thing to say is 'no comment.'"

The extra security is a far cry from Travolta's appearance last month at the 'Ladder 49' premiere, where he was accompanied by only one minder and happily stopped to sign autographs for fans.

Travolta Is Planning His Autobiography

John Travolta is planning to write his autobiography.

The Hollywood actor, who turned 50 this year, says he thinks the time is right to share his extraordinary life with the world.

He said: "I've hit a milestone this year in my life, turning 50, and if I waited any longer I'd have to write two books. I've had such a full life that I really want to share it."

The 'Pulp Fiction' star has already secured a deal with New York based publishers Hyperion to print the as-yet untitled memoirs, scheduled for release in 2006.
According to Hyperion's editor-in-chief, Will Schwalbe, fans can expect a detailed account of the star's life, including his friendships with the late Princess Diana and Marlon Brando.

Travolta, who first shot to fame in 1977's 'Saturday Night Fever', famously danced with Diana at a White House Ball thrown by deceased US president Ronald Reagan in 1985.

Schwalbe said: "John Travolta is one of the greatest and most beloved actors of our time. He has remarkable stories to share - about his career, his friendships with people ranging from Marlon Brando to Princess Diana and his passions."

 

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