Fan Expo 2019: John Travolta Is A Big Fan Of His Fans


John Travolta may not be a regular on the convention circuit, but he holds his fans in high regard. During his appearance yesterday at Fan Expo, he explained that fandom was an important part of his life long before he became famous and, given the chance to take one thing to a desert island, he’d probably bring his fans (that’s more than one thing, but no one seemed to mind). For his latest project (Fred Durst’s The Fanatic), Travolta plays a fan who takes his obsession a little too far, but given the actor’s high opinion of his own admirers—including the person who twice broke into his home—he was determined to bring compassion to the role. This pro-fan perspective came though loud and clear on Sunday during Travolta’s lively Fan Expo Q&A.

Travolta’s Biggest Fan

On the subject of obsession, Travolta spoke about one of his most devoted fans. “There was a young girl 40 years ago, believe it or not, who changed her name to Sharon Travolta,” he explained. “She was a British girl and I thought this was a fleeting thing, but she’s still my number one fan. She watches every movie I’ve ever made on her birthday 24 hours around the clock and I love her dearly. She’s just an incredible human being.”

The Freedom of Evil

In spite of Travolta’s friendly, upbeat disposition—and all-around enthusiasm for people—some of his most memorable roles are villains. He attributes this to the pleasure he takes in playing these characters. “If a villain is well-written, there’s a little more freedom,” he said. “If you take Face/Off, I didn’t know what I was going to say as Nic [Cage] to Nic, but I saw him in the prison kind of locked to the floor and I thought this wicked, tormented guy would say, ‘Oooh-weee, you good looking!’ Of course, he’s looking at his own face and I thought, wouldn’t it be hysterical if he just missed his own face? And then I said, ‘Nic, would you mind if I licked your face?’ And he said, ‘Go for it.’ So when I said that line, I grabbed his face, I licked it… those are the freedoms you get.”

Stepping On Marvin’s Toe

Proving he’s almost as passionate about playing villains as he is about his fans, Travolta elaborated on this enthusiasm, starting with “the cold, deep, dark place” he went to play The Punisher’s Howard Saint. “He throws his wife from a train and then he says to the guy that he thinks she’s cheating with, ‘She caught the train.’ It’s so demented, but fun to play. Even with Pulp Fiction, people loved him, but when he shoots Marvin and clearly Marvin’s head is gone, I improvised, ‘I shot Marvin in the face,’ like I had stepped on his toe… it’s so wildly out of the realm of logic that it suddenly has humour to it. Those are the kinds of things that bad guys allow you to do if they’re well-conceived.” 

Unexpectedly Epic

Judging from the enthusiastic response to any mention of Pulp Fiction, it’s clear that film remains a fan favourite. However, Travolta said he had no idea it would or could become an enduring, broad appeal classic “Like when I did Saturday Night Fever, I thought it was a little movie,” he explained. “I thought it would be no bigger than Reservoir Dogs. I had no idea that it would be this iconic cultural phenomenon, nor did I with Saturday Night Fever. I thought that was a little art film, so sometimes you don’t know. I knew Grease was going to be epic, but I did not know Saturday Night Fever or Pulp Fiction would be epic.”

What’s Next?

Even the biggest Travolta fan has to admit that his movie career has been slumping in recent years (he earned his greatest recent acclaim for TV’s The People v. O. J. Simpson). As Travolta sees it, there’s a good chance his next movie comeback will come via an earlier success. “What I gather is, for instance, the audience would love to see a Swordfish sequel or they’d love to see a Face/Off sequel or they’d love to see a Pulp Fiction sequel,” he said. “Those are the movies that I think would be most pleasurable for the audience to revisit, but all those things are up to the studios. I get to do pretty much what I want at the smaller film level and then you have to wait for the studios to give you the bigger budgets for the bigger movies.”