A Conversation with John Travolta at Theatre Royal, Drury Lane
The crowd were in raptures as John Travolta strutted into this West End theatre for a chat. It was instantly clear that his sex appeal has not been lost in the eyes of some, as fans turned up in their droves to see Travolta in person. With his 60th birthday fast approaching, Travolta looked a little less agile than he was during his Saturday Night Fever days, but still retained the radiant glow of Hollywood. He also demonstrated that he hasn’t lost his dancing abilities as a few starstruck fans got the opportunity to dance with their man. Travolta, enthused by all the adoration towards him, made frequent flirtatious glances and remarks to the crowd, and declared rather oddly on numerous occasions: “I’m going to make love to all of you.”
Aside from all this, the conversation with Travolta was at times slightly stilted, as the interviewer – film critic Barry Norman – struggled to forge a comfortable rapport with him. Norman seemed tense, and his questions failed to gain great insight, gathering the crowds intrigue on one topic only then to quickly skip to another. To his credit Travolta talked with openness about elements of his personal life that others may actors may have found uncomfortable, from the recent death of his son to his faith in Scientology. He also enlightened the audience on his liberal upbringing and his formative years in acting. Pointing to the influence of his two sisters who were in the crowd, both of whom have also been in theatre, as Travolta acknowledged that his passion for acting at a young age was not seen as straying from any given path.
Coming to fame in the dance film Saturday Night Fever and the musical Grease, Travolta became one of the youngest actors to be nominated for an Oscar at the age of 24. While he has had numerous Academy Award nominations throughout his career he is yet to win the grand prize, but he insisted that this does not irk him. He admitted frustrations in some of his career choices not coming off, but claimed that he was contractually obliged to star in the flop Staying Alive, when otherwise he would have declined the role. Travolta spoke fondly of his relationship with director Quentin Tarantino who he worked with on Pulp Fiction, and hailed the impact of the film on revitalising his career and the film’s own lasting influence on cinema. He also went on to claim that Tarantino fought Paramount tooth and nail to ensure that Travolta was given the role of Vincent Vega. These were all refreshing insights during what was mostly a slightly strained and awkward conversation that failed to coax much out of Travolta. Nonetheless, the man handled the occasion with humility and enthusiasm.
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