What the Hell Happened to John Travolta?

John Travolta is the King of the Comeback.  Where most careers involve a rise and a fall, Travolta’s career is a roller coaster or peaks and valleys.  In the 70’s, he was a pop culture icon, in the 80’s he was a has-been and in the 90’s, he reinvented himself as an Oscar-nominated tough guy.  Today, you’re more likely to see him on tabloid covers than headlining a movie.  What the hell happened?

Travolta started off on the stage in New York in the touring production of Grease.  Eventually, he moved to California where he started making TV appearances like The Boy in The Plastic Bubble.

We’ve got a lot to cover here, so we’re just going to skip to 1975 when Travolta was cast in Welcome Back Kotter.  Kotter was a sitcom developed around stand-up comedian, Gabe Kaplan.  Kaplan played a teacher at an inner-city school and Travolta played one of his delinquent students known as the “Sweathogs”.

Kotter was a big hit during its first couple of seasons.  This lead to lots of merchandising opportunities including a board game based around Travolta’s catch phrase, “Up your nose with a rubber hose.”

Interestingly enough (for me anyway), the actor standing-in for Travolta in that commercial was a young Steve Guttenberg.

While still appearing on Welcome Back Kotter, Travolta made the leap to film with Brian De Palma’s adaptation of Stephen King’s novel, Carrie.

By now, there have been umpteen adaptations of King’s novels.  Some have been adapted more than once.  A remake of Carrie is currently underway.  But De Palma’s Carrie was the first and it set the bar too high for most of the adaptations that would follow.

Travolta’s role was relatively small.  He played the boyfriend of Carrie’s primary tormentor, Chris, who was played by Nancy Allen.  But Travolta was involved in some of the movie’s more memorable scenes.  He was the one who slaughtered the pig for the bloody climax.  And when a blood-soaked Carrie left the flame-engulfed prom, Travolta’s character tried to run her over.

The following year, Travolta entered pop culture history with Saturday Night Fever.  The image of Travolta in the white leisure suit dancing to the Bee Gees is bigger than any movie.  It has come to symbolize an entire decade.

But Saturday Night Fever is nothing like its image.  The soundtrack may make you want to dance, but the movie is actually a depressing melodrama about a guy who feels trapped in a meaningless existence he can only escape on the dance floor.

The movie was based on an article in New York magazine about the budding disco culture, Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night.  Ironically, the writer of the article later admitted that he had made it all up.  As an Englishman, he was baffled by the American dance craze.  So he based his story on a “Mod” friend instead.

Saturday Night Fever got mostly positive reviews.  It was nominated for several awards including Best Actor for Travolta.  Film critic, Gene Siskel claimed Fever as a personal favorite.  He even went so far as to buy Travolta’s leisure suit at an auction.

Fever wasn’t just a hit.  It was a smash that dominated the pop culture landscape.  It ushered in the Disco Era.  The soundtrack was the best-selling soundtrack album of all times.  Eventually, the popularity of disco eclipsed the movie.  So when the disco backlash started, Saturday Night Fever was marginalized along with it.

In 1978, Travolta was still appearing on Welcome Back Kotter.  But he was no longer a regular.  Instead, he was credited as a “special guest star”.

He followed up Saturday Night Fever with the big screen adaptation of Grease co-starring Olivia Newton John.  Grease has a double-nostalgia thing going for it.  It is intended as a loving look back at the 50’s.  But it is so of its era, that it captures the feeling of the 70’s just as well.

Grease was nowhere near as critically acclaimed as Saturday Night Fever.  In fact, most critics at the time didn’t like it.  But audiences loved the catchy musical numbers and elaborate dance scenes.  Grease was another huge hit for Travolta.

Responding to the success of Grease, Paramount Pictures re-cut a PG version of Saturday Night Fever to play as a double feature with the more family friendly musical.  A few years later, Paramount would try to recapture the success of Grease with a sequel.  But Grease 2 was such a disaster that it nearly killed Michelle Pfeiffer‘s career in its infancy.

Travolta’s winning streak came to an end later that year with Moment By Moment.

In Moment By Moment, Travolta played a young drifter who starts a romantic relationship with a wealthy older woman played by Lily Tomlin.  It was a romantic pairing no one wanted to see.  And very few did.  Moment By Moment got terrible reviews and was a huge bomb at the box office.

In 1980, Travolta recovered from his first flop with Urban Cowboy opposite Debra Winger.

Urban Cowboy was basically the country music version of Saturday Night Fever.  While it wasn’t as successful or well-reviewed as Fever, Cowboy did get decent reviews and did well enough at the box office.

Next: Stayin’ Alive and Look Who’s Talking

Posted on September 2, 2012, in Movies, What the Hell Happened?, WTHH Actor and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 134 Comments.

  1. Danielle Charney

    What a good piece- a month or so ago, ‘Moment by Moment’ was on HBO I think. I was late, and I needed distraction. I watched it twice in a row. I shit you not. (;)) I have to admit that I was mildly riveted. I will take Lily T. any way I can get her. She is so damn good without even trying. Travolta, is the same to me. Even if it sucks, I never tire of him- even in Face Off, which for me is pushing it from all sides. As for his personal life, I could not care less. He is just one of those wild cards like Depp that you accept warts and all. Part of the plan. Again, thank you so much for this. I must reread it later. More to say maybe.


    • I’m glad you enjoyed the Travolta article. It was quite an undertaking! I can’t even tell you how many hours went into it.

      I don’t think I have ever actually watched Moment by Moment. I was young when it came out and I remember all the media attention it got when it was released. I remember when it aired on TV a few years later, but I don’t think I actually watched it.

      By the time it came out, I think the media was waiting for him to fail. He had been so successful so early in his career. They were just waiting for a turkey to come along. Little did they know, they would have decades to kick him around. they needn’t have been so impatient.

      As I have said a number of times, I generally don’t care about actors’ personal lives. So all the recent scandals don’t really phase me. The charges of harrasment bother me if they are true. But cross-dressing and being in the closet don’t phase me. And if Kelly Preston is okay with Travolta’s extramartial affairs, I will defer to her judgement. It seems to me such arrangements are not uncommon in Scientology.

      I debated for quite a while over addressing these rumors at all. But that would be ignoring the elephant in the room. So, I figured I would try to do so at the very end of the article in a way that invites conversation without a great deal of editorializing from me.


    • Greatest Box-Office Bombs, Disasters and Film Flops:


      Moment by Moment (1978)
      Director: Jane Wagner
      Studio/Distributor: Univeral Pictures
      Budget: ?
      Domestic Gross: ?

      Still, the idea of an R-rated character study and chick-flick melodrama about a May-December romance remains unnerving, between 24 year-old John Travolta – fresh from the disco dance hit Saturday Night Fever (1977) and Grease (1978) — both produced by Robert Stigwood, and 39 year-old TV comedienne and actress Lily Tomlin (from Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, and Oscar-nominated for Nashville (1975)). Years after making the film, Lily Tomlin admitted that she had been in a decades-old lesbian relationship with the film’s director/writer Jane Wagner (with her directorial debut), when she was placed into this star-making effort.

      The lifeless, dull and cliched script, the uncompelling, mis-matched and irritating lead characters (especially the Tomlin character with her monotone voice and expressions), their vapid dialogue, and the awkwardness of the ill-fated and improbable romantic relationship sank the film. Travolta portrayed Strip (!) Harrison, a young, drug-using runaway drifter, who became infatuated with unsatisfied, icy, middle-aged Beverly Hills housewife Trisha Rawlings in a souring marriage. [Note: The film had an eerie resemblance to Travolta's own real-life tragic romance with older actress Diana Hyland (with an 18 year age difference), who played his mother in the popular TV movie The Boy in the Plastic Bubble (1976), and who died in 1977 of breast cancer. It also didn't help that both Travolta and Tomlin had dark hair and shaggy haircuts and looked like siblings in the film, and that Tomlin closely resembled Travolta's own older sister Ellen - both added an incestuous subtext to the film's story.]

      The career-ending film was quickly pulled from theatres (inexplicably, Universal released it at Christmas time!) when it became clear how truly awful and embarrassing it was for critics and fans alike – especially the scene of her manually-pleasuring (off-screen) Strip, and their notorious hot-tub scene in which the skinny Tomlin exhibited her rear end. However, for true camp appeal, the film would rate at the top of the scale. Travolta would headline many other flops over the course of his rising and falling career, including the sequel to Saturday Night Fever titled Staying Alive (1983), Two of a Kind (1983) (reuniting him with Grease co-star Olivia Newton-John), Perfect (1985), The Experts (1989), and the monumental disaster Battlefield Earth (2000).


      • Concluding Case File #37: Moment By Moment:


        That’s the case in 1978’s Moment By Moment, a film that has come to personify miscasting and explosive anti-chemistry the same way the slightly more fruitful pairing of Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn has come to personify chemistry. Moment By Moment has a lot to teach casting directors about chemistry. For starters, if you’re making a heterosexual romance about a sexual bond so potent it transcends age and class, it’s good if at least one of the leads sends out at least a mildly heterosexual vibe. Secondly, if a film is about a May-to-December romance, the leads should probably not look so alike that they more often come off like an incestuous mother-and-son team than conventional lovers.

        Moment By Moment exacerbates this surreal miscalculation by inexplicably giving leads John Travolta and Lily Tomlin (whom I have collectively dubbed “Tratomlin”) pretty much the exact same unflattering haircut, so that they sometimes look like gender-and-age-switched variations on the same person. Physically, Travolta and Tomlin look enough alike for their sexual congress to seem creepy, incestuous, and weirdly masturbatory, but personality-wise they have so little in common that when Tomlin repeatedly tells Travolta, she loves him it not only rings hilariously false; it also cheapens the concept of “love.”

        So while Travolta’s triumphs in the mid- to late-’70s like Carrie, Saturday Night Fever, Grease, and Welcome Back Kotter enjoy a healthy afterlife on lunchboxes, special-edition DVD re-releases, and sing-along theatrical re-releases, Moment By Moment has been relegated to the land of wind and ghosts along with other cinematic orphans no studio or star wants to claim. Despite the names involved, it has never been available on home video in any form, and that includes Beta, VHS, LaserDisc, DVD, and Blu-ray.

        The film has been so hard to find, legally or otherwise, that during an AVQ&A I singled it out as the unattainable art I would like to track down the most, trumping more obvious examples like Jerry Lewis’ The Day The Clown Cried. Thankfully, the Internet is a generous entity, and I was soon deluged with offers to send me bootleg copies of the film for this column.

        Moment By Moment is a film where every miscalculation amplifies the last. The coma-inducing pacing is further hindered by a smooth-jazz score that dares audiences to stay awake during endless, seemingly interchangeable scenes of Travolta jabbering endlessly. Tomlin is rightly regarded as one of the greatest physical comedians of all time, but Moment By Moment perversely casts her in a role devoid of humor and self-deprecation. The editing is so slack that it often feels like we’re watching unedited rushes, not a finished film.

        It’s hard to watch Moment By Moment in 2013 and not secretly see it as the story of a middle-aged lesbian who gets her groove back by having mind-blowing sex with her gay son. Moment By Moment was directed by Jane Wagner, Tomlin’s life partner as well as her professional partner: It had to be weird for Wagner to watch her partner pretend to have sex with a man she clearly is not sexually attracted to, but not, somehow, less weird than it is for the audience. As with so many of the films I have chronicled here, suspension of disbelief becomes impossible. The brain rebels violently against the idea that Travolta and Tomlin could possibly be lovers, let alone destined for a happy ending together.

        At the time, Moment By Moment appeared to be an anomaly in Travolta’s otherwise charmed career, the sole dud in a dazzling string of musical, cinematic, and television triumphs. Yet with the benefit of hindsight, it now looks like the first stirrings of the curious camp figure Travolta would become, a walking punchline who would become synonymous not with his iconic and massive early successes but rather his abundant and extraordinarily public later failures. Travolta was a great winner, but he somehow makes for an even better loser. That’s enough to make him the poster boy for My World Of Flops, along with his Face/Off buddy Nicolas Cage.

        Moment By Moment was the first real flop in a failure-festooned career for John Travolta, so it seems like a good note to end My World Of Flops on.


  2. For one thing, Savages is pretty good. You just gotta wade thru ’bout 45 minutes of weird three-way crap. Secondly, I have followed his career (because he lives down the road) and never even heard of some of those movies. Thirdly, Get Shorty is his best work. Pulp Fiction is great, but I like Chili Palmer better.

    And I personally appreciate that you don’t speculate on personal lives or odd beliefs. Like Cruise, though, he’s made some bad calls because of it. That was why he wanted to make Battlefield so badly, ’cause Hubbard (a terrible author) wrote it.


    • I will definitely check out Savages eventually, but I am in no hurry to do so. Oliver Stone is a talented filmmaker. Even his bad movies are worth watching. But he lost me around the time of Natural Born Killers. And Savages has an NBK feel based on the commercials.

      Pulp Fiction is one of my all-time favorite movies. But I don’t consider it a John Travolta movie. Samuel L Jackson steals the show. (Although Walken’s cameo comes close.) Get Shorty is my favorite movie to star Travolta. Be Cool still bothers me.

      Yeah, BFE was a personal mission for Travolta based on his ties to Scientology. It was and still is a huge blind spot for him. At least he’s finally figured out that no one wants to see a sequel to the god-awful thing.


  3. Big score here, Lebeau!
    -Somehow I had never seen that picture of Travolta in drag. Thanks for that!
    -Anyone who has never seen “Blow Out” should rush to add it to their queue.
    -Don’t kid yourself, Travolta was plenty funny in “Pulp Fiction.”


    • I do a lot of searches for these articles. I lost track of how many times those final images came up in image searches. I figure if I have to look at them, so does everyone else. ;)

      I saw Blow Out in college. I was in charge of programming the theater at the student center which was a pretty awesome gig. Anyway, I ran Blow Out based on all the raves I had heard about it. And I have to admit, I was a little disappointed. I had built it up in my head to be some Hitchcockian masterpiece on par with Vertigo and Rear Window. Very unrealistic expectations. I have rewatched it since and it is definitely one of DePalma’s better films (and Travolta’s for that matter). But you have to go in expecting DePalma instead of Hitchcock.

      Pulp Fiction is a very funny movie. And Travolta’s funny in it. But it’s a different kind of comedy than Get Shorty which is primarily going for laughs.


  4. I need to get over my problem with movies that have open displays of drug use. It is hard for me to watch that scene in Pulp Fiction when Uma overdoses.


    • I remember seeing that in the theater and squirming in my seat. The audience freaked out at the end. It was a good kind of uncomfotable. But, I know what you mean.


  5. I watched Pulp Fiction last night, and it was better than I remember. Jackson stole every single scene he was in. No wonder he gets the big bucks.

    I did not like NBK at all, won’t watch it ((like Passion of the Christ) and would not recommend Savages if it was like NBK. I also think Stone is overhyped.

    Thinking about Christian Slater yet? It got me thinking about him after you mentioned Broken Arrow. I LOVED True Romance.


  6. He’s all over the radar…like Kilmer. Never understood his career choices, but the guy can act. Be sure to rewatch Kuffs, too. Silly but very entertaining. He had a new show this year, but I think it got cancelled.


    • I saw Kuffs in the theater, but haven’t watched it since. Post Heathers, I was a fan. I liked Pump Up the Volume way more than I should have.

      Doesn’t Slater have a show cancelled every year now? ;)


  7. Funny. No…he was stuck (and may still be stuck) in direct-to-DVD stuff, I think. When you think about it, Slater is perfect for WTHH. I kinda liked Hard Rain, and put it in Film Cemetery.

    There is another actor I’d like to see featured here. Do you only do movie actors?


    • So far, I have stuck to movie actors. Gradually I have been expanding my scope. So, you never know. Eventually, I may take on TV actors as well. Who did you have in mind?


  8. The dad from Raising Hope is so versatile. Dillahunt played two separate parts on Dead Wood. He’s not for WTHH…he steals everything he’s in – including Burn Notice and Terminator.

    It’s just a suggestion. I’ve had a man-crush on Garret Dillahunt and Eric Bana for years. I’m weird, it’s true. Maybe, though, that’s the ‘it’ thing you talked about.


  9. Unlike my friends, I have never found Travolta particularly attractive. However, I think he is charming and charismatic in his roles on screen. My favorite roles of Travolta’s were Get Shorty, Faceoff, Phenomenon and Broken Arrow. If Travolta has had relationships in his life with women and if rumors are correct, with men, wouldn’t that make him bisexual, not gay? Not that it matters. Is it more than a coincidence that whenever Travolta (or Cruise) consider breaking from the Scientology “religion” (I use the term very loosely here), suddenly “gay” rumors begin to surface? We should also take into account Travolta’s intense grief over the accidental death of his son, Jett. The loss of a child is an extremely difficult situation for anyone to deal with, let alone a movie star who is constantly in the spotlight. I am sure Travolta will resurface in a worthy vehicle but he definitely needs some time to recover as well as spending time getting to know his new baby son with whom he and his wife were blessed. Travolta is a rich man and I’m sure that his family is a lot more important to him right now than his career.


    • Travolta has been through a lot in his personal life. I completely ignored the death of Diana Hyland early in his career. I mentioned the loss of his son, but there is no way I could hope to address the impact that has on every aspect of your life. There’s no doubt it has impacted his career.

      Having said that, Travolta has been on a very long losing since long before that tragedy. At his age, in his shape and surrounded by controversy, I’m not sure another comeback is in the cards for him. Then again, he’s been counted out at least 3 times already. So anything is possible.

      I don’t really anticipate a late-career resurgence a la Sean Connery. But I think he has a lot of years left in him in supporting roles and playing villains.


      • There’s no way he’ll recover from a gay sex scandal, especially now that the whole world knows he’s been living a lie for the past 30 years. Kelly Preston is proof that some women will put up with anything for a chance at the bucks.

        Travolta got paid $20 million for Be Cool in 2005, and his last lead in a wide release was fairly recently. If not for the scandal, a career resurgance would have seemed likely. But not now. He may never act again. His most recent movie has been in “post-production” for two years.


        • Although, he did have that Christmas album with Olivia Newton John. Does anyone know if that was a hit? I know it got a lot of bad press, but I think it may have sold well. Couldn’t find any sales figures one way or another. But I’m sure someone out there can save me the trouble of actual research.

          I have learned not to bet against Travolta. Even with the bad press, I think he could come back. Not to the A-list, but I would be very surprised if he doesn’t work again as a supporting actor. Or a leading man in smaller movies. A star of his level never really goes away unless they have just gotten sick of the whole Hollywood thing.

          I am interested in a Kelly Preston write-up eventually. I never realized how many movies she was in without ever really approaching the A-list. It’s kind of amazing really. She had the right look and enough talent that she could have been an A-lister. I always assumed she would have made it if she worked more. But she actually worked a lot in a lot of bad movies.


          • Craig Hansen

            I know this info is coming a few months late, but the Christmas album that Travolta did last year with Olivia Newton-John peaked on the Billboard album chart at an abysmal #81 late last year. I don’t know how many copies that translates to, but it’s pretty miniscule. If Travolta and Newton-John had released their Christmas album in the late 90’s or so, when Travolta was still a huge draw, i have no dobut it would’ve been a Top 10 album. Clearly things are quite different now.


          • I was just looking at Kelly’s imdb forum and found this post interesting:

            http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000593/board/thread/214388118: Pretty sad acting career.

            Despite being very pretty, always attaching herself to A Listers right from the beginning and a sham marriage to Hollywood’s biggest closet case, Kelly hasn’t had much of a career, has she? Has she ever given one great or even remotely memorable performance in her entire “career?” I think not.

            She actually has given some good performances but those were supporting roles in independent films. In all her mainstream movies she just fills the bill, she used to be the babe and now she’s the supportive wife and/or mother.


            • I’ll admit that when I saw Kelly Preston’s name on the poll of future “What the Hell Happened to…” actors/actress I wondered if she was ever close to reaching her full potential (a la Sean Young, Alicia Silverstone, Mena Suvari, and/or Penelope Ann Miller) but some how it never clicked. It seems like Kelly Preston never really had a true “breakout role” (like perhaps, Nicole Kidman during her marriage to Tom Cruise) to make herself be able to not simply be “Mrs. John Travolta”. Kelly probably came the closest in “Twins”, but it just didn’t pan out. And I do agree that at this point in Kelly’s career, she has kind of been relegated to being the go to actress to play the hot, but dotting mother.


            • The thing that surprised me about Preston was how many movies she popped up in while I was researching other actors. She has had an exceptionally long career. I always expected her to take off, but she never did. Most people, if they know her, know her as Travolta’s wife. But it seems like she should have been a star in her own right given her looks and how many movies she appeared in. I’m interested to explore why that never happened.


              • Denise Richards was just as beautiful and it never happened for her either. Both women were involved with Charlie Sheen. Except Kelly is better at pretending she has class than Denise.


                • The thing about somebody like Denise Richards is that it’s safe to say that she wasn’t/isn’t that great or really good of an actress to begin with. I think all of the negativity that she received for her performance in the James Bond movie (even by the otherwise low standards in that series when it comes to the “Bond Girls”) really curtailed her momentum from being simply “Ms. Fan Service” or nothing more than a tabloid magnet.


                  Denise Richards started out with mostly mediocre movies, but got breast implants and an all-star nude role in Wild Things, making her a household name (amongst men) overnight. A bit of the Hype Machine got underway, but most of her subsequent films were trashed by critics and weren’t too successful at the box-office (with the exception of The World Is Not Enough, and that was hardly down to her), she stopped doing nudity and basically vanished from Hollywood within the year. A failed marriage to Charlie Sheen later, and she’s now more tabloid-bait than an actual star.


                  • Richards has never had a serious, legit acting role in her career. But I’ve watched some of her early interviews and she does have charisma, she does have charm….but her roles never utilized that, they only utilized her beauty and sex appeal.

                    I have zero respect for Kelly Preston, why oh why would she degrade herself by marrying the most obvious closet case in Hollywood? The rumors already existed before she met Travolta, she knew exactly what she was getting into. What strikes me is that she lived with and was engaged to Charlie Sheen only one year earlier….how does one go from Sheen to Travolta?!?!


                    • I’m not sure Sheen to Travolta is a step down. If I were a hot starlet, I think I’d rather be Travolta’s beard than part of Charlie’s druggie harem. But alas, I have never been a hot starlet. So what do I know?

                      I really know very little about Preston at this point. Despite having seen her in I don’t know how many movies, I have never really formed an opinion one way or another. For a long time, I kept expecting her star to rise, but it never did. That’s really my focus at this point. Also, I imagine the article will make a companion piece to the one on Travolta.


                    • I do kind of find the obsession or curiosity over John Travolta’s sexuality very funny because it isn’t like he has been the only high profile actor throughout history who has come under suspicion for such a thing. There are rumors swirling around that Cary Grant was in fact gay if not at least bisexual. And let’s not forget, Rock Hudson, who was I think, the first really high profile figure to die of AIDS. Hudson even married I think his agent’s secretary to divert attention towards his homosexuality.


    • I really think that the massive failure of “Battlefield Earth” (where John plays a large ham of a villain) besides the gay rumors (especially when he “reinvented himself” as a tough guy when “Pulp Fiction” brought him back to relevancy) severely ruined John Travolta’s box office credibility/marketability. I think w/ “Battlefield Earth”, it wasn’t just that it was a bad movie, it’s the whole ties to Scientology (whether you like to admit it or not, people already have preconceived notions about what Scientology really is about) and the fact that it was a personal pet project of John’s for many, many years. What didn’t help matters is that John to the best of my knowledge didn’t own up to it’s failure (a la George Clooney w/ “Batman & Robin” or Sandra Bullock w/ “Speed 2″ and “All About Steve”) and actually pushed for a sequel.


      • Travolta’s days as a leading man are OVER:


        I agree he is a legend and one of most talented performers in all of entertainment over the last 30 years.

        As a person however I find his actions not only sad but offensive. Aside from the lies about everything from his sexuality to his hair to the suspicious events of his child’s death…..his shameless promotion of a dangerous cult that destroys lives all over the world and his most recent claims that his Cult has given him healing powers make me repulsed at the mere image of him on screen.

        Rumors about Travolta have been around for years, but nothing like what is happening now. In addition to the male masseuse lawsuits he has been outed by multiple CREDIBLE sources already, there are photos of him both in drag and making out with a man and his alleged longtime gay lover from the 80’s is currently writing a book. With this body of evidence stacked up against his character, I’m not sure how studios market Travolta as a leading man ever again. He’s become a punchline more than anything else these days.


    • Kelly Preston’s career isn’t worthy of a writeup. Her career is the same as it always was. Was she ever even on the *path* toward stardom? I don’t think so. She used to be the eye candy, and she’s still the eye candy. Only difference is that she plays wives and moms now instead of girlfriends and sidekicks. I don’t recall her ever starring in a film.


      • As I have been researching these articles, I have been surprised how many movies Preston has shown up in and how long her career was. For a long time, it seemed like she was on the edge of success and yet it never happened. I’m interested to look into that in more depth.


  10. He does make a very interesting supporting character.

    Umm…bit of news about my site, lebeau dude. It seems, like the great David Hasselhoff, I’m a big hit in Germany. LOL. Been getting a bunch of very nice emails from some very nice Germans. Wish I knew how to set up a easy-to-use comments section like Jalopnik.


  11. Like Dune (the Lynch version, although Syfy’s isn’t much better), Battlefield Earth was DOA the minute some thought it would be the next Star Wars prior to its release.
    I sometimes wonder what became of all those Battlefield Earth action figues nobody wanted


    • lol – They are either in Travolta’s garage or a landfill.

      Dune, man what a missed opportunity. I love Lynch, but I am so glad he didn’t direct The Empire Strikes Back as almost happened.


  12. travolta did some great movies not all, saturday night fever, urban cowboy, pulp fiction, get short, broken arrow, michael face off, swordfish, old dogs, wild hogs, taking of pelham 123, and from paris with love were my favorites, the rest he did i didn’t give a shit about. now he’s gotten crazy with scientology and now with his gay behavior.


  13. it’s a wonder why scientology has corrupted many good people we call actors. same with politics too. they are all raving lunatics. now i can’t watch a new film from cruise or travolta because of thier crazyness of scientology. last film i saw was from paris with love that was it. now no more new films from travolta or cruise. now they are on the list of actors whose films i boycott.


  14. basic was also a good film i forgot to mention as well.


  15. I have to say – i personally didnt see “Sat night fever” + “Grease” but i know it’s very popular. However, seeing “You’re the 1 i love”, i have to ask why people didnt think John Travolta is gay back then? I have to admit, John’s eyes r strange, with some1 else they would be attractive/sexy but on John’s faces they look so creepy, now that he’s old it is not that creepy but seeing the video of Grease it really is -.-

    Also, talking of Grease, any idea about “The Outsiders” cast? Out of the cast, Tom Cruise, Matt Dillon, Patrick & Diane all have a memorable career. The others i dont know much, did any of them almost make it to be a star? I personally want a close look @ Matt, he doesnt make films anymore -.- and i always thought he was the most chrismatic in that movie, >>>>>> Tom Cruise.


    • Matt Dillon is high on my list. As I have researched other articles, I keep seeing Matt Dillon. He’s made so many movies! It is really amazing he was never a bigger star. He was a talented and good looking guy. Fo some reason, audiences just never seemed to take to him.

      I have been reluctant to write about the deceased. But when I do, Patrick Swayze will be one of the first I write about.


      • The suckage of Swayze’s career is bewildering. When he died people were writing about him as if he’d been this huge star in the 80s, which is a complete fabrication. Swayze was relatively unknown for most of the 80s. He did TV and small film roles until he became a star in 1987 when Dirty Dancing came out. Ghost was the highest-grossing movie of 1990. One article I read said “After Ghost, there was no place else to go but down.” Talk about polite journalism. You’d think Swayze would have been the go-to actor after Ghost, the #1 star in Hollywood, yet all he did after that was juvenile trash.


        • I think a lot of people thought he was a star because they watched Dirty Dancing, Ghost, Point Break or Road House over and over again on cable or video. Also, the fact that he had a moderately successful TV show which he continued to work on up until his death made a great story. People wanted Swayze to be a bigger star than he was.

          Point Break was a lot of fun though.


      • Matt Dillon is a wonderful actor, and he is still a very handsome guy. I wish you would do a piece on him.


  16. PS: why dont u make WTHH for Uma Thurman? I saw Pulp Fiction because of her! (Ok, before i saw PP, i wasnt a film buff -.- and i just saw Kill Bill back then -.- that’s why i also feel bad about Daryl Hannah’s career, tbh, all the women in that movie should have a WTHH, Lucy Liu was such a huge crush of mine)


    • I plan to do both Thurman and Liu eventually. I want to write about that Lucy Liu/ Bill Murray feud.


      • I second that. Thurman’s had an interesting career and now it’s over. Would love to see a WTHHT on her.


        • If I stick to the schedule I have in mind (which is always up in the air), Thurman will be the next actress I write-up. I expect to write her up in Feb, just not sure when.


          • I am in the middle of research for an article on Tim Roth to get my “Pulp Faction” series started. Once I get it going, we should tag your Thurman WTHH article to bring the two sets together. I’m also rehearsing a small part in Julius Ceasar right now, so it might be slow coming.


            • Et tu, Daffy? Sorry, couldn’t resist. Have fun with the show.

              Can’t wait for the Tim Roth article. But wait I shall. We’ll definitely link up when the articles are done. And I hope you’ll do your own take on Uma’s career even if the WTHH article is up first. Travolta too.


      • http://www.derober.com/2008/06/26/6-crazy-hollywood-stories-you-probably-havent-heard/

        The real reason Bill Murray didn’t do the Charlie’s Angels sequel
        ~ Roll mouse over photo to Derobe ~

        Bill Murray and Lucy Liu didn’t get along on the set of the first Charlie’s Angels. Bill was always uncomfortable around her and nobody knew why until one day a huge fight erupted between the two while they were filming a scene. People Magazine reported the Bill ‘loudly complained about her technique.’ People was being gentle.

        What actually transpired was much more intense. Bill Murray stopped a scene in progress and pointed to Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, and Lucy Liu saying in order, “I get why you’re here, and you’ve got talent….but what in the hell are you doing here. You can’t act!” At that, Liu blew her lid and attacked Murray, wildly throwing punches. The actors had to be separated to opposite corners of the room while they lobbed verbal hand grenades at each other.
        With a Columbia Pictures gun to their heads, both actors would publicly downplay in incident but insiders know better. Bill Murray would not do any sequel with Liu attached and was subsequently replaced by Bernie Mac.


      • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0628601/board/flat/201603913?p=1

        http://www.imdb.com/news/ni0054760/ :Mission: Impossible II (2000) star Thandie Newton has blamed actress Lucy Liu for creating tension on the set of the Charlie’s Angels (2000). The beautiful brunette – who was originally set to star in film but was forced to pull out when the filming schedule clashed with M:I2 believes that there wouldn’t have been any on set bickering if she had taken the role. She says, “If I had been working on the film there would have been no arguments and everyone would have been happy. ” The actress believes the problems stem from the Ally McBeal star massive ego. She adds, “It’s a problem with dynamics and ego’s. Obviously the dynamics between them mean that there were always going to be problems and the problem is with Lucy; the other two seem to be fine.”


  17. do you think john travolta will do expendables 3 with sylvester stallone and nicolas cage and the rest of the cast, lebeau?


    • I think Travolta would absolutely do that if he is invited. He released a Christmas album this year. I think he’ll do anything. People are going to be fighting over parts in Expendables 3.


  18. if john travolta worked with good action stars of the 80s 90s and right now i would see it. even though i hate tom hanks, i would still love to see him, travolta and robin williams in a movie together.


  19. Here’s a thought: you should do a WTHH to Stallone. I guess you could argue his career is doing OK right now with Expandables and what not. But whatever: I just want to read your thoughts on his flicks and his rise and fall. His movies are so perfect for making fun of – I think you would agree.


    • If it weren’t for The Expendables, I would have done Stallone last year. That bought him some time. But I’ll definitely feature him eventually.


      • The sixth “Rocky” movie was pretty well received, so if you ask me, that kind of helped bring Stallone “back” so to speak.


        Sylvester Stallone in Rocky Balboa. Technically, his first resurrection was with Cliffhanger, that helped him Win Back The Crowd after two horrible comedies. But then his career choices were rather unfortunate (besides the critically acclaimed Cop Land, Demolition Man and a voice acting role in Antz). After some self-parodying in Spy Kids 3D, he decided to go back to what started his career. Rocky Balboa was a critical and commercial hit, and allowed Stallone to finally make a fourth Rambo, and follow it with the action film with a dream cast The Expendables.


        • The 6th Rocky was way better than it had any right to be. I was very pleasantly surprised. It’s one of the best films in the series which really isn’t very high praise. Rockies 4 and 5 were awful.

          From memory, The fourth Rambo was kind of a disappointment. If anything, I think it took some of the wind out of the sails of Stallone’s comeback.

          The Expendables was a really remarkable recovery. I don’t really expect it to last long. But the fact that Stallone made himself relevant at all in the 21st century is nothing short of amazing.


  20. Then again, since “Bullet in the Head” recently underperformed at the box office, maybe Stallone is once again “at risk” for getting a future WTHHT.


  21. rocky 4 was great because of propeling dolph lundgren to action hero status in 80s and now. don’t say 4th was bad it was better than 5 , but 6 was good too, you’re right about that. i would love to see arnold and sly’s the tomb do good in the box office.


  22. Travolta was never my personal cup of tea, although this was the minority opinion among teenage girls when SNL and Kotter were big. Nevertheless, I have respect for an acting career that has spanned, let’s face it, 50 YEARS. I also like it that Lebeau writes about his career and only touches on the personal drama whereas lately the tabloid fodder eclipes his career which I don’t think is right.


  23. I posted in the Mel Gibson’s WTHHT comment section that in a way, John Travolta is in a similar position as Mel. Both of them managed to keep their supposed “skeletons” (Mel’s alcoholism and rage issues and John’s alleged gay behavior and to a lesser extent, the suspicious circumstances behind his son’s death) in check for as long as possible before it finally reaching an embarrassing conclusion. Their personal scandals more than likely severely ruined their marketability and credibility as leading men in mainstream movies. What perhaps makes it especially hard is that they’ve aged a lot since their prime (LeBeau pointed out that John let himself go physically too much, but don’t forget his dramatically receding hairline).


      • Will A Gay Tell-All Book Destroy John Travolta’s Career—And Marriage?


        If you haven’t gotten your fill of reading about John Travolta’s sordid sex scandals, you’ll be happy to hear that Doug Gotterba, Travolta’s former pilot and alleged lover of six years, is currently negotiating a tell-all book.

        The National Enquirer—whose track record is getting eerily good about these things—is reporting that Gotterba has lined up two writers to help him tell his story.

        Intrepid gossip-hounds might recall the incriminating shot of Travolta lip-locking nanny Jeff Kathlein on an airport runway some years back. At the time, the Pulp Fiction dismissed it as just a warm greeting. (Yeah, if you live in France.)

        But Travolta’s former assistant, Joan Edwards and Gotterba’s ex-boyfriend, Robert Britz, have largely confirmed the affair with Gotterba: “Doug told me right at the beginning of our relationship that he’d had a homosexual relationship with John Travolta in the 1980s.” Britz tells the Enquirer, “Doug said John was constantly grabbing at his genital area, but he put up with John’s sexual advances because working for him was ‘lucrative.’”

        Gotterba continued the alleged relationship with Travolta until, according to Britz, Travolta’s weight gain between films became too much for him and his sexual advances began to “repulse him.”

        There’s speculation that this could be the final straw for actress Kelly Preston, Travolta’s wife of more than 20 years. After the recent allegations from several male masseurs , as well as two lawsuits, Preston has been keeping a very low profile. This fresh chapter in the seemingly never-ending tale of woe may prove to be too much.


  24. 20 Movies That Made Us Think Differently About The Actors In Them (And Not In A Good Way):


    In Hollywood there is a book. And in this book there is a list of bad movies by decent actors. On this list is John Travolta. And next to his name is Battlefield Earth. Fortunately the man has made a career of comebacks. But no one can ever trust him with an epic Sci-Fi tale again.


  25. Once They Were Stars, Now They’re All Too Easy Targets:15 Celebrities Whose Careers Have Become Punchlines:


    John Travolta’s career went downhill in the late 80s and it took Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction to revive it. The actor has seemingly been on top ever since, though recent allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior may have changed that. Last year a quartet of accusations were leveled at the actor claiming Travolta engaged in inappropriate sexual trysts with his male masseurs. Soon after a former pilot came forward claiming that he carried on a six-year affair with Travolta during the 1980s. This only helped stir the pot for comedians who grand high time contrasting the allegations with Travolta’s family man image (in spite of the fact the claims were later dropped). Even Carrie Fisher came out in December to claim “everyone” in Hollywood knew he was gay. Travolta and his legal team have continued to dodge the rumors through litigation and the actor seems to have cleared himself of any wrongdoing. Still, the whole saga remains a prime target for humor and whether or not the claims will impact his movie career remains to be seen.


    • Career Killing Films:


      That made me think of this:

      John Travolta’s career took a huge nose dive after STAYING ALIVE, and Tarantino helped resurrect him with PULP FICTION. This, and subsequent events, gave him the power to make the terrible BATTLEFIELD EARTH. However, EARTH didn’t really stop his career again, as he’s still getting work in fairly high profile films (in box-office receipt terms).

      Also- anyone else notice that Val Kilmer and John Travolta have almost identical physiques at this point? Weird.


      • 12 Actors Whose Careers Were Destroyed By A Single Movie:


        5. John Travolta – Battlefield Earth

        The Actor: It was originally Grease that ended John Travolta’s career, until Quentin Tarantino made the brilliant decision to pair him up with Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction. Now his failings at looking like a high schooler had been negated by actual acting ability, the future looked bright for Travolta.

        The Film: Enter Battlefield Earth. If you ever wondered what the point was when his style went from Vince Vega to identikit Euro action look no further than this misguided sci-fi you should be ridiculed for even watching. Travolta was instrumental in the film getting made – as a Scientologist he had a big desire to see a novel by it’s founder, L. Ron Hubbard, on the big screen – and really should have realized he was onto a loser when no major studio would plump up any money for his script. The film was universally panned and performed terribly, bankrupting it’s production company in the process.

        What Happened Next: Hairspray. And just about nothing else. Travolta’s heavy involvement in the film hurt him bad, leading to a decade of cheap films necessary only to pay the bills. His role in Hairspray got some plaudits, but mostly as part of the bigger cast. Look out for him later this year in Killing Season alongside other has-been Robert De Niro. Boy, I can wait.


        • Again (following up on my comments in the Mike Myers article) Battlefield Earth was a speed bump for Travolta. But it did not ruin his career. He continued getting high profile lead roles for a decade after BE. The fact that he made bad to mediocre movies for a decade ruined his career for the third time. And his personal scandals are the real nail in the coffin.


  26. 10 actors who tried to bounce back from a flop:


    The Flop: Battlefield Earth

    It’s not a widely known fact, but Battlefield Earth, in spite of the way that critics dismantled it, and in spite of the way it dropped down the box office chart like a stone, turned in a profit. That said, considering it was touted as one of 1999’s big blockbusters, it still failed to do anything like the business that was hoped for, and given that it was John Travolta’s dream project, it was he that took most of the flack for it.

    So how did he attempt to recover his career for the second time, this time without the help of Quentin Tarantino (who dug him out of the doldrums first time round with a role of a lifetime in Pulp Fiction)? Not well, really. Lucky Numbers was a tepid flop with Lisa Kudrow, although he was on far safer, and more successful, ground with Swordfish the following year. That should have been a platform to build on, but Travolta failed to choose wisely. Instead, he ended up in the likes of Domestic Disturbance, Basic, The Punisher (2004 vintage) and Ladder 49, continuing his poor choices with the forgettable Get Shorty sequel, Be Cool.

    More recently, he’s just about clawed back his movie career off the back of ensemble piece Wild Hogs, and dragging up in the musical version of Hairspray. But could his name lead a film single-handedly to a $30-40m opening weekend? Not any more, it seems…

    Career status: just about hanging in.


  27. Battlefield Earth Review by sfdebris:


    • Mr. Floppy 9.22.07: Battlefield Earth:The Saga of the Year 3000:


      Year of the cock-up : 2000

      Budget : $73,000,000

      Domestic gross : $21,471,685

      Foreign gross: $8,253,978

      Worldwide gross: $29,725,663

      Scientology is a pesky little thing. This world holds so many different religions, it’s fascinating each of them has its devoted followers. And what better followers than the cream of Hollywood’s crop?
      Over the last few years, Scientology has become quite popular with celebrities and nowadays it really is the thing to do, once you reach a certain monetary (and perhaps mental) status as a show-business personality. Like the Rubik’s cube in the 80’s—everybody wants to try it. The list of official members of the Church of Scientology includes several well-known names: Tom Cruise (the world’s number 1 Scientology and silent birth ambassador), Kristie Alley, Beck, Isaac Hayes, Jason Lee, Jenna Elfman and of course John Travolta. Now, to Travolta’s credit, he jumped on the Scientology bandwagon way before it became sort of fashionable. But the ranks of Hollywood Scientologists are expanding and they’ll soon be able to form a solid little army. And then, the only thing the world is going to anxiously await, is a battle between Hollywood Scientologists and Hollywood Kabbalists (among others- Madonna, Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher, Jeff Goldblum)—if nowhere else, at least on a talk-show. I’m sure a Tom Cruise vs. Ashton Kutcher verbal sparring would be worth pay-per-view money. But back to John.

      As a respectable member of his community, John Travolta obviously knows that American author L. Ron Hubbard created the set of self-improvement techniques and beliefs, which he called, you guessed it, Scientology. Apart from his prophetic teachings, Hubbard was also a regular, fiction-writing author and from this branch of his creative mind comes the epic story known as Battlefield Earth. It actually was a solid hit and has sold over 8 million copies to date. I haven’t read the book, but from what I’ve read about it- it’s extremely long (circa 1000 pages) and the response to it differed, although many respectable sci-fi/fantasy personas praised the story, notably- Neil Gaiman (go see Stardust!), Robert A. Heinlein and Frederik Pohl. The potential for a good movie was there, but a story this long and widespread would require a cautious and sound approach. John Travolta thought he was just the man for the job.

      Fueled by passion for his chosen religion, Travolta was somewhat trying fulfill a dream of his, as well as pay homage to Hubbard with this movie. So after his career was reignited by Pulp Fiction in 1994, Travolta started relentlessly pursuing studios in hope of getting Battlefield Earth made. His obscure descriptions of the book started at about this point in time, when he mentioned it in many interviews, characterizing it as “a Pulp Fiction for the year 3000″. No comments from Quentin Tarantino are available on this matter. To help him lobbying for the movie, several Scientologists came out of their caves and persuaded Bill Mechanic, the head of Twentieth Century Fox at the time. Their antics didn’t help matters however, since they weirded poor Mechanic out a lot more than they made him interested in the project.

      In 1997, Travolta’s long-time manager Jonathan Krane somehow managed to sign a two-year deal with Twentieth Century Fox under which that studio would release Battlefield Earth. This deal also didn’t work out and finally fell through, because the studio found the proposed material too risky, too expensive (a lot of visual effects) and the Scientology part of it all wasn’t helping matters either. Even though many prospective artists bitch about studio involvement, as proven in this case, studio heads can also be right every now and then.

      Travolta’s pursuit didn’t end there and in 1999, he finally got his wish. Franchise Entertainment took the project under its wings, as an independent production for Morgan Creek Productions, which would then release the film through Warner Bros. in the U.S., with Franchise Entertainment retaining the rights for foreign distribution. John Travolta and Scientologists worldwide were ecstatic— the epic novel of their “father” would finally be brought to the silver screen.

      The movie was directed by an unknown Roger Christian and starred Travolta himself as the dreadlock-wearing bad guy, Barry Pepper as a heroic caveman and Forest Whitaker, obviously making money to pay the rent, as Travolta’s lackey. The production proceeded uneventfully, but suspicions concerning Travolta’s involvement arose. The thing is, the movie was directed by an unknown guy like Christian for a reason. J.T. wanted to be heavily involved with the movie’s final shape, so it was natural he hired someone who wouldn’t protest when he came up with some nifty ideas.

      After the shooting was finished, Travolta hyped the movie everywhere he showed his face, once again pulling out very strange descriptions of the film from his sleeve. For example, he was quoted saying: “It’s going to be the best movie in history. Star Wars combined with Indiana Jones.” To this day, nobody was able to decipher what exactly he meant by that.

      To add to the hype, speculations about subliminal signals, promoting the Church of Scientology ran rampant, but fortunately for the public, they were proven to be false. Could these rumors be the reason why people didn’t go to the cinema? After all, the image of going to a movie and coming out with hunger for Scientology is very, very disturbing, not to mention downright scary.

      The movie about the remaining humans existing under brutal tyranny of Psychlons (aliens who came here to mine gold, know everything there is to know about us and yet have no idea about Fort Knox) was released on May 12th, 2000 and its opening weekend earnings stopped at a dismal $11,548,898. Disappointment is too weak of a word for the feelings good John must have been experiencing at the time. It stayed in the theaters for two months, but 95 % of the total income was made during the first two weeks. The critical response was extraordinarily bad, as the movie was trashed for virtually every single aspect. Roger Ebert said that the film is going to become synonymous with movie failures for decades to come. He may have been right. Travolta was ridiculed in many of the reviews and his sinusoid of a career found itself once again right at the bottom. The film covered only half of Hubbard’s book as Travolta obviously had a sequel in his mind. After the film’s colossal failure, it never happened.

      The film was also criticized for shamelessly stealing every single visual finesse from different movies. Apart from stealing a plenty from Star Wars, Travolta also all but duplicated the lobby shootout from The Matrix. Of course, none of these interpretations were even remotely close to the original and combined with the headache inducing camera tricks (John’s attempt at being cool), the film’s visual was downright atrocious.

      Just like our last week’s inductee, Battlefield Earth was a huge success at the Razzies, taking home seven awards, with Forest Whitaker being the only one who didn’t get one. Reportedly, he wasn’t saddened over the loss. Also, the film is a mainstay in imdb’s Bottom 100, currently having the average rating of 2.3.

      Surprising thing is that Travolta still hasn’t admitted his dream project ended-up sucking worse than Look who’s talking now (and take my word for it- that is saying SOMETHING). He still wishes to make the remaining part of the story and refuses to admit Battlefield Earth really is one giant, steaming turd. A turd like this one right here:

      L. Ron Hubbard was a controversial persona, but Scientology aside, his sci-fi novels really might be pretty good. And this is how his legacy is going to be represented and remembered- by a desperately bad movie and Tom Cruise jumping on a couch. Poor guy. At the very least, he had the luck of dying 14 years before this atrocity hit the cinemas. No matter how big of a loony this guy was- he would have to be ashamed to have his name attached to this.

      Mr. Floppy

      John, John, John. You are the one to get the award this week, since you were pushing for the project right from the start and you could have definitely realized that what you’re creating is downright idiotic.

      I remember seeing this thing and shaking my head at the idiocy of the plot. Not naivety, which was reportedly characteristic for Hubbard’s novel. I’m not talking about the idea of aliens coming here to mine f***in’ gold. OK, we all can use the neat little thing called suspension of disbelief. But I can not accept the strong illogicality, which the characters demonstrated through the entire film (mainly the Psychlons, since humans were idiots basically). I can not accept that the film takes part in the year 3000 and yet, all the books in an old, dusty library where Travolta’s character takes Pepper’s caveman have pages white as a snow. The dreadlock-wearing Psychlons also had to be complete morons if they lost the battle with humans in this movie, since they were an ultra-advanced, technocratic civilization and yet were defeated by a group of Neanderthals. Another true pearl is that the humans really lived like cavemen within this story, but of course Barry Pepper was able to teach them how to pilot a Harrier in 7 days (let alone the fact those Harriers were unattended for 1000 years, yet still worked perfectly)! The folks at RAF must have been nodding in approval- 7 days folks, that’s all you need. And then, these ape-like creatures manage to defeat The Psychlons, using those Harriers. Yes, this movie sucks, but is a pretty satisfying guilty pleasure.

      John Travolta is notoriously known for not having the best nose for scripts, but even he should have known better. It didn’t end his career, but his Tarantino-created comeback basically came to an end here. He was on a stable decline until this year, where he managed to score two big hits- Wild Hogs and Hairspray. But the sinusoid rule really fits his career to a T, so it’s probably just a matter of time before he manages to flop again. Fortunately, Forest Whitaker’s career wasn’t slaughtered by this (like Barry Pepper’s for example) and he was able to still receive good roles on his way to finally win an Oscar earlier this year.

      Since Battlefield Earth was a John Travolta vehicle, I hereby award him the title—Mr. Floppy.


      • 10 Films That Were Clearly Vanity Projects:


        3. Battlefield Earth – John Travolta

        John Travolta envisioned Battlefield Earth as the new Star Wars, revolutionising the sci-fi genre and inspiring millions with charismatic characters, a beautifully structured plot and tense action that kept the viewer gripped to their seat. Only problem was, Battlefield Earth contained none of these things and has since gone on to be the figurehead of highly misjudged films.

        Clearly a very personal pet project for Travolta, he seemingly felt compelled to spread the message of Scientology to the masses through the film. Based on the novel by scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, people involved with the film used this Scientology connection as reason for its failure but it simply isn’t true. Poor pacing, terrible dialogue, hammy special effects, strange titled camera work and utilising a series of incredible coincidences make Battlefield Earth a chore to watch.

        While no one comes out of the film with dignity intact, Travolta in particular seems bewildered by his surroundings. His acting is embarrassingly awful, over-reaching every syllable and introducing mannerisms that seem to hint at the film laughing at itself. Watching Travolta give everything to a project is admirable but the results are simply too hilarious not to laugh at.

        Battlefield Earth will remain as one of the worst films ever created, just make sure to tilt your head accordingly next time you watch it.


  28. Greatest Box-Office Bombs, Disasters and Film Flops:


    Staying Alive (1983)
    Director: Sylvester Stallone
    Studio/Distributor: Paramount Pictures
    Budget: $18 million
    Domestic Gross: $64.9 million
    Rentals: $33.7 million

    Co-written and directed by self-obsessed Sylvester Stallone and produced by Robert Stigwood, this 6 years-after disappointing sequel to Saturday Night Fever (1977) followed up with the Tony Manero signature role (played again by Oscar-nominated John Travolta) in Manhattan – now a jazz dance instructor and bar waiter at a dance club attempting to break into Broadway dance shows and being rebuffed at auditions. Although he had a relationship with another struggling and supportive, ‘girl-next-door’ dancer named Jackie (Cynthia Rhodes, seen also in Flashdance (1983) and later appearing in Dirty Dancing (1987)), he fell hard for long-haired, icy British dancer and wealthy, bitchy diva Laura (Finola Hughes, better known for the daytime soap opera General Hospital and as the make-over show host of “How Do I Look?” on the Style Network) who used him sexually – soon followed, coincidentally and miraculously, by his securing of a minor role (and then the co-starring male lead role) in Laura’s new show titled Satan’s Alley. The love triangle between the two women and Travolta formed the basis for the overheated plot.

    The dull-acted performances from heartless characters (especially Manero’s irresponsible, insecure, mean-spirited, manipulative, misogynistic and insensitive role), the choppy musical and dance scenes, the completely predictable and cliched dialogue, the repetitive and monotonous plot, the over-powering pop soundtrack with some forgettable BeeGees songs and brother Frank Stallone’s chart-topping hit “Far From Over” made this the worst sequel ever made (according to Entertainment Weekly magazine in 2006), and it was also voted the fifth Worst Film of all time by Maxim magazine in 2002. The screenplay’s superior first draft by Norman Wexler was flattened into this one-dimensional musical drama (Rocky-ized) by Stallone through his unoriginal directing and scripting – ignoring everything that made the original film such a hit.

    Although this musical dance sequel wasn’t a major box-office flop, the film was savagely and soundly criticized as a prime example of horrible film-making, and it received three Razzie Awards nominations: Worst Actor (John Travolta, also for Two of a Kind (1983)), Worst New Star and Worst Supporting Actress (Finola Hughes). Travolta had already been vilified for taking the starring romantic lead role in Moment by Moment (1978) with Lily Tomlin, and this film encouraged more mixed reviews for his career, with the downward spiral continuing for more of his films in the 80s, including Two of a Kind (1983) and Perfect (1985).


  29. Craig Hansen

    I have to say, John Travolta had one of the greatest career comebacks of all time in 1994 with Pulp Fiction. Prior to that, his career was a joke. Literally. I still remember an episode of The Simpsons that aired right before Pulp Fiction was released, where Homer and Marge go to a night club that has a theme: it’s always New Years Eve, 1979. While at the bar, Marge comments to Homer “Ooh, look Homer, the bartender looks EXACTLY like John Travolta!” After they walk away, the bartender, looking forlorn, mutters to himself “Yeah….. looks like.”

    That funny throwaway gag showcased perfectly where Travolta’s career was. It’s not possible to overstate what Pulp Fiction did for him, did for his career. Travolta literally shot straight back up to the A-list, and he followed up nicely for several years with a consistent string of box office hits…. until Battlefield Earth happened. But looking past the recent decline, I honestly can’t think of another actor that had a bigger comeback than Travolta did in the 90’s.

    Are there any other actors or actresses that anyone else can think of that also had a tremendous comeback from obscurity to A-list similar to Travolta?


    • What about Tom Hanks? Bounced back from some early flops to A+ list. of course, he has never left A list since.


      • True. I’m not sure he was ever as low as Travolta was. But he was in a slump. Although he climbed out of it slowly whereas Travolta bounced back in a single movie.


    • Travolta’s comeback is hard to top. Eddie Murphy had a pretty impressive comeback with Nutty Professor. Patrick Swayze with Ghost. But no, off the top of my head I can’t think of a comeback that rivals Travolta’s.


  30. Thinking about it more, I’d have to add Robert Downey Jr. to the list of impressive comebacks. But Downey is not a direct comparison to Travolta (or competitor to his king-of-the-comeback throne), if anything it’s more of an apples-to-oranges comparison. I say that because while Travolta was huge in the late 70’s and undeniably an A-list star after Saturday Night Fever, Grease and Urban Cowboy, by comparison Downey never really was A-list before Iron Man. Oh, sure, Downey had a long career going back to the late 80’s, but he mostly played supporting roles in films, he would get critical acclaim but he was never really in any big hit movies or blockbusters before Iron Man. Movies like Chaplin, Restoration, Natural Born Killers, U.S. Marshals, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, etc, did only modest business at the box office. Since Iron Man, however, he has headlined Due Date and the Sherlock Holmes films to great success and has finally arrived on the A-list. But his comeback isn’t like Travolta’s, who had a meteoric climb to the top of the A-list in the late 70’s, fell into obscurity for a long time, then rose to the A-list again after Pulp Fiction.


    • Nothing to add. You nailed it.

      Eastwood might be a contender. He was pretty irrelevant post Dirty Harry, pre-Unforgiven.


    • 5 Acting Performances That Defied The Years:


      He may well be the youngest member of the list, but Robert Downey, Jr. is also the one that had the most to come back from. A young Downey first began to gain notoriety with appearances in the Brat Pack related films, Less Than Zero and Weird Science. From here it looked like he began to forge a promising career for himself in both supporting and leading roles. After appearing in high profile films like Air America and Soapdish, Downey played the lead role in Chaplin and received an Oscar nomination for best lead actor. It looked like this would be the role that set him on his way as a leading man, but his ever present personal problems would soon derail the momentum that he had worked so hard to build.

      Downey was long considered a bad boy in Hollywood-his drug problems were no secret- but things would get progressively worse, as his issues began to lead him into trouble with the law. His various arrests are too many in number to list here, but the long and the short of it is that he ended up in jail and his career seemed to be over. Following his release from prison he looked to be getting his life back on track with a stint on Ally McBeal, but following another arrest he was fired and would be right back as square one all over again. Finally after years of trying, in 2003 Robert Downey, Jr. got himself clean and took on the challenge of restarting a career that had shown so much promise, before his demons got in the way.

      The road to redemption for Downey would be complicated one- studios were reluctant to hire him due to the risk that his problems presented- the majority of his salary for Gothika was withheld until completion as insurance. He would receive similar treatment for years to come. Eventually after rebuilding trust within the industry and interest from the public, with roles such as Harry Lockhart in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, he was trusted with the lead role in a major blockbuster. There are many that feel Downey was born to play the role of Tony Stark, the look and the larger than life charisma combined to exude everything that Iron Man fans imagined and the movie launched both franchise and the actor into the stratosphere.

      There is no explaining how much of a gamble this was, Iron Man was the launch of a potentially billion dollar franchise and its lead star was a drug addict with a history off legal problems. He repaid Marvel faith with a brilliant performance and he has looked back since, as of this moment there are few bigger stars than Robert Downey, Jr..


  31. I watched Swordfish on television last night and can say his Razzie nomination was bullshit. He did a damn good job. His recent scandals didn’t even enter my head during the movie because he played that character so well.


    • The Razzies are like any other award. They are at least 95% political. They target popular actors who are off their game so they can make headlines. They are rarely ever the worst performances just like the Oscar doesn’t always go to the best.


      • The most ridiculous Razzie award of all time was back in ’99, they nominated Sophia Coppola as Worst Supporting Actress in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. The thing is, she was basically just a silent extra in the film playing one of Queen Amidala’s handmaidens in a couple scenes; I’m a huge Star Wars fan and as many times as I’ve watched that movie I still can’t figure out which one of the handmaidens is her. So how the people at the Razzies singled her out for horrible acting when she was just an extra is beyond ridiculous. I realize there was a backlash for the film, but that is really reaching.


  32. When John Travolta’s “Wild Hogs” co-star, Tim Allen make a good “What the Hell Happened to…” subject down the line? Here’s a video to put things into proper perspective:

    Tim Allen recently went back to TV w/ a show called “Last Man Standing”. The original premise seemed to be sort of like “Home Improvement”, if Tim Allen’s character had all daughters instead of sons. But come the second season, it had arguably one of the most disastrous or controversial (depending on your point of view) cases of retooling in recent memory by recasting the actress playing his eldest daughter and trying to model the show after “All in the Family” (w/ Tim Allen’s character meant to be a modern day Archie Bunker). Todd VanDerWerff of AVClub.com went on to write that “Last Man Standing’s” second season was the weirdest sitcom season since “’Til Death”.


    • Here’s the full article from AVClub.com:


      Between Last Man Standing’s first and second seasons, the largely non-distinct sitcom, mostly known for being Tim Allen’s return to television, had a choice to make. Headed for Fridays, the second least-watched night of the week (after Saturdays), the program had to do something to make some noise and hopefully attract viewership. Simply having Allen in the cast wasn’t going to do it any longer. So, as Allen and new showrunner Tim Doyle discussed with the New York Post, the choice was made to try to turn a bland family sitcom into a modern-day Norman Lear comedy, complete with arguing about social issues, Barack Obama, and the nation’s legacy of genocide.

      Did it work? Having watched all 18 episodes of the show’s second season, I can’t really say that it made the show better, but it certainly made it weirder. (And in terms of ratings, it allowed the show to keep the lights on on Friday, no mean feat.) Its attempt to put a finger on the country’s pulse made it much more worthy of discussion than when it was just about some angry guy living with too many women, as it was in its first season. It’s like when ’Til Death turned into a strange meta-sitcom in its final season, though somehow even more misguided.

      The basic premise of Last Man Standing is the same as Allen’s former sitcom hit, Home Improvement, only his character, Mike Baxter, has three adolescent-and-older daughters, instead of three child sons. The oldest daughter, Kristin, was the promising one who was going to succeed, until she had a child late in high school, and she’s lived in her parents’ house with her son, Boyd, ever since. Middle daughter Mandy is a ditzy fashionplate. Youngest daughter Eve is the one who’s closest to her dad, into things like soccer and hunting. There’s an outdoor-store workplace setting where Mike deals with crotchety boss Ed (meant to be the even more hyper-masculine version of Mike in season one) and dumbass employee Kyle. And in the second season, the show made an attempt to flesh out the neighborhood the Baxters lived in with a handful of recurring characters, including a black couple who become fast friends with the Baxters, and a Latina maid. In addition, the second season added the father of Kristin’s son, Ryan, as a semi-regular, meant to be the Meathead to Mike’s Archie Bunker.

      The problem with Last Man Standing’s attempts to go political is exemplified by the first scene of the season première, which remains one of the most uncomfortable scenes of television I’ve ever watched. It’s not even really bad so much as it’s actively discomfiting, doing its best to push buttons in the audience that don’t need to be pushed, as if it thinks what made Lear’s sitcoms a success was the yelling or the mentions of social issues that people sometimes argued about. Mike says Obama was born in Kenya. Kristin and Ryan make fun of Romney for being a robot. It goes on and on and gets more and more squirm-inducing, but in a way that is clearly meant to be a good time. This is the new height of political humor?

      The characters on Last Man Standing don’t speak about issues in any sort of nuanced manner, nor do they have terribly deep discussions about them. They mostly repeat buzzwords and shout at each other a lot. The show wanted to make Mike into a conservative hero, but it didn’t bother giving him a consistent worldview. He’s just somebody who spouts Fox News talking points a lot, and while that may be somewhat true to life—in that most modern political arguments between left and right tend to boil down to talking points gleaned from elsewhere—it doesn’t make the experience of watching people shout pithy, empty phrases at each other any more interesting or involving. What’s more, Mike’s main liberal competition—Ryan and, occasionally, Kristin—tend to speak as if they came up with their own political positions from reading the list of tags at the bottom of posts on a left-wing blog.

      Again, this is true to life. Few political arguments—particularly those among family—have the level of nuance one might expect from, say, a mythical boxing match between Paul Krugman and Milton Friedman. And, thinking back on All In The Family, Archie and Mike Stivic’s arguments on that show rarely had much nuance to them, either; the series gained much of its power from moments when it could step outside of their limited points-of-view and depict the world as it actually was. What made All In The Family’s political arguments work—what made the vast majority of all of Lear’s series featuring such arguments work—were the character stakes. The idea that Archie and Mike would love or even respect each other at the end of one of those knockdown shouting matches wasn’t taken for granted. They really might end up pushing each other too far, and did on occasion. The relationship, which grew to a kind of grudging respect and finally love, was one of the best developed in television history.

      It’s unfair to hold a relationship that’s only existed for 18 episodes of television to that sort of standard, but the central problem with Last Man Standing’s political arguments is that the show A) never gives viewers a reason to care whether Mike and Ryan respect each other at the end of the day (after all, Ryan’s not even a series regular), and B) takes it for granted that the two will respect, and maybe even love, each other. Ryan abandoned the mother of his child and said child for three years and has returned, trying to right his wrongs. The Baxters have every right to be suspicious of him, and it would be easy enough to turn Mike and Ryan’s political arguments into arguments about something more fundamental in their relationship: what Mike perceives as Ryan’s utter inability to help out Kristin when the chips were down. That’s interesting. That’s drama. But Last Man Standing runs away from it at every occasion.

      The series has the right idea in trying to ground the political in the personal. For 99 percent of us, politics is personal. Think, for instance, of the relief you might have felt when Obama won last year, or the despair you might have felt when Romney lost. Those emotions may have been driven by something politically concrete on one level, but they were also driven by a more fundamental, emotional level. No matter how much you may believe in [insert issue here], every election comes down to a choice between something you identify strongly with and something you do not. The two-party system all but guarantees this. When the characters on a Norman Lear political sitcom argue, this is what they’re really arguing about: the defense of the self against something that would encroach upon it. Too often on Last Man Standing, however, the characters just argue about politics to give each other a hard time. There’s little sense of passion, and even when the characters come up against a problem that’s truly insoluble—where there are significant arguments to be made on both sides—the show chickens out and ultimately buries everything under a gloss of, “Well, at least we all still love each other!” Take, for instance, the episode “Mother Fracking.”

      Mike’s wife Vanessa (the great Nancy Travis, given sadly little to do) is a geologist, and part of her work involves using the process known as fracking to gather natural gas. Eve’s terrified of the impact this might have on the planet, so she stages a one-girl protest. Vanessa rightly points out that the best current method of finding energy comes from fossil fuels. The choice is presented along admirably stark lines: Enjoy the modern comforts that in many cases keep us alive, or probably fuck up the planet irreparably. There’s a real opportunity here to strain a relationship between mother and daughter, one viewers actually do care about. Instead, Mike tells Eve that her mother does her best, and maybe Eve shouldn’t give Vanessa a hard time, since she really loves her little girl. And… that’s about it.

      This question of making giant political issues into smaller, more personal ones runs throughout the season (though toward the season’s end, it becomes less about that and more about interpersonal relationships), and it’s sometimes, frankly, embarrassing. There’s a whole episode that clumsily creates the impression it wants to make a one-to-one comparison between the genocide of American Indians and Ryan leaving after Boyd was born. (Ryan doesn’t appreciate Ed promoting Outdoor Man with a Western-themed stage show—that arrives out of nowhere, it must be said—which features rampaging Indians. Later, when Ryan tries to say that it doesn’t matter what he did in the past in regards to Boyd, Mike accuses him of turning the tables and trying to sweep his own history under the rug. It’s… awkward.) There’s also an episode, talked about in the Post article above, where Eve gets in trouble for bullying at school, which means well but also inadvertently seems to suggest that kids should be able to use as many anti-gay slurs as they want. Because the show is so intent on not having a definitive political point of view, it comes off as clumsy more often than not. It also forces the characters to behave in ways no human being ever would, as in one episode when Vanessa wonders if she received a promotion because she is good looking, then actually goes and asks her boss that very question. Who would do this?

      There are stabs at character complexity here and there. Ryan is liberal to a fault but also subject to his own unexamined prejudices, particularly when it comes to how he, deep down, believes the mother of his child should submit to his authority. And Eve’s a gun-toting wannabe Marine who’s also really concerned about the potential destruction of the planet, and recoils in horror at the Wild West show when she finds out about the plight of the Indians. I’d feel more strongly supportive of these stabs at complexity, however, if the series didn’t leave the impression that it simply forced the characters into whatever straitjacket it needed them to be in for that particular episode. Eve will be a budding hippie in one episode, a budding military member in the next, and never the twain shall meet. Considering the show does take stabs at consistency of setting and story serialization, it’s just a little strange, as if Last Man Standing understands that people are complex but wants to present all of its characters as different archetypes in different episodes, lest they get too complex.

      That Last Man Standing doesn’t really work is all the more disappointing because it comes close enough to suggest a show worth watching. Even if the show’s first season was more consistent across the board, it was much less interesting than the second, which was fitfully fascinating, as in an episode when Kristin learns Mandy is infatuated with Kyle, whom Kristin earlier dated, and takes this occasion to reignite her relationship with Ryan. It’s a wonderfully ambiguous moment, where Kristin’s motivations are surprisingly nuanced—until the next episode, when she and Ryan are just happy together again. In its second season, it was incredibly evident that Last Man Standing had seen some of the best shows in TV history and was trying to ape them, but had mostly just captured the surface of them.

      This is too bad. The cast is game, the jokes work on occasion (particularly when delivered by Molly Ephraim, who plays Mandy, and Hector Elizondo, who plays Ed), and the show’s attempts to work politics into the mix are at least admirable and less wrongheaded than they might initially appear. Tim Allen doesn’t really have it in him to play Archie Bunker, but he does have it in him to play a guy who might have heard Archie back in the ’70s and heard in the man’s bitterness and resentment something that resonated, then found that sanded down by success and comfort. Where Archie was a blue-collar hero, Mike Baxter lives in the world of upper-class security. Where Archie was railing against a world that terrified him precisely because he didn’t know how secure his future was, Mike doesn’t have to worry about that. At its best, Last Man Standing can reflect some of the anxieties of Allen’s generation—like the thought that these late Boomer parents want to raise their daughters to be independent, then fall back on tired old gender stereotypes when those daughters really are independent—and provide a kind of comedy attuned to red-state sensibilities (ironically, since it’s set in bluing Colorado). Sadly, it’s too often at its worst, where it knows it has something to say but has no idea how to say it.


    • I mean to start off my initial comment about Tim Allen w/ the word “Will” instead of “When”! :(



  33. 5 Comic Book Movies That Get Unnecessary Hate:


    4. The Punisher

    One quick look at this movie on Rotten Tomatoes and you can see that it has a rating of %29. That’s an extremely low number for just about any film.

    The Punisher came out in 2004 which was an awkward stage in the evolution of comic book movies. X-Men and Spiderman had proved to the Hollywood big wigs that comic book movies were an untapped goldmine. With the box office returns of the previously mentioned films Hollywood executives attempted to make a comic book movie out of anything they could get their hands on…we even got a Daredevil film. When looking back at this film you can easily see that it is slightly confused. The film itself seems as if it doesn’t quite know how far it can push the envelope or what it really wants to be. Is it a comic book movie? Is it an action movie? Well in all fairness when it comes to a character like The Punisher it may be difficult to make a comic book movie based on this character not seem like an action movie.

    Where this film shines is how unique it was to comic book films during the era that it was created in. When this film came out every comic book film under the sun was based on a character with ridiculous super-powers and this film was built around….some dude…who had a lot of guns. We didn’t know it at the time but it was actually quite refreshing to see a mortal man attempt to take down a crime kingpin without any sort of special ability. The Punisher managed to set itself apart by being overly violent and earning itself an R rating. If you go back and watch this movie you might be surprised at how gory it is especially by today’s comic book movie standards.

    As far as the actors go Thomas Jane wasn’t exactly praised for his interpretation of Frank Castle. Sure you might not expect someone like Thomas Jane to pull off a role like this but when you actually give him a chance you can see that he pulls it off. Thomas Jane is actually pretty convincing when it comes to the major selling points of the character. He has nothing left, he has no regard for himself, and he is hell bent on revenge. Most people complain that he just doesn’t fit the role but if you give this film another run you can see that his portrayal of Frank Castle actually does come off as a ruthless killer.

    When watching John Travolta’s performance you aren’t sure whether you enjoy it or you just want to punch him in the face. Travolta walks a fine line here between crazy and just plain annoying but most of the time he does a decent job when it comes to being the bad guy (I mean come on anyone that can deliver the line “Make him dead!” with a serious face deserves some sort of praise). This film features multiple villains even though some of them only appear briefly. The scene where Harry Heck serenades Frank Castle in a diner is actually pretty cool and the battle that follows shows just how resourceful The Punisher has to be due to his lack of powers. Kevin Nash even makes an appearance here as The Russian in a battle scene that ends up being both hilarious and entertaining.

    This film is just another one of those comic book movies that failed because people didn’t know what to make of it. When you let go of your preconceived notion of what a Punisher movie is supposed to be and just take this movie for what it is it’s actually a halfway decent comic book movie.


  34. 10 Incredibly Talented Actors Who Should Really Call It A Day:


    6. John Travolta

    John Travolta is probably one of the most inconsistent actors out there today. His career has been on polar opposites: on one side, you have the classics Saturday Night Fever, Grease, Pulp Fiction. On the other, you have Two of a Kind, Phenomenon, and, one of the worst big-budget sci-fis ever, Battlefield Earth. I still can’t believe that I sat through this entire movie at one point. Literally anything else would have been a better way to spend my time. Like getting a root canal.

    So which stage of the Travolta spectrum are we in now? The only decent role he has done lately was back in 2007 for Hairspray, where he somehow believably pulls off playing a woman. But, that same year, he was also in Wild Hogs. And then, he was in Old Dogs. You’re not that old, John. You don’t have to play old guys to be good. Is this really the same person who played Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction?

    I’m still waiting for John to get another good role. But, at this point, that’s like waiting for Lindsay Lohan to get sober. It’s just not going to happen.


    • 8 Talented Actors Who Just Made Five Awful Movies In A Row:


      3. John Travolta

      The Five Awful Movies: Wild Hogs, The Taking Of Pelham 123, Old Dogs, From Paris With Love, Savages

      John Travolta has gone in and out of being “cool” more times than, uh, a glass of water that you keep putting in the fridge and, like, taking out at again random intervals (metaphors are not my strong point). There are many who probably think that Travolta sucks at acting, but I’d go out on a whim to say that most of us would probably agree that he’s a bonafide Hollywood legend. He’s John Travolta! Grease! Saturday Night Fever! Pulp Fiction!

      And then… Wild Hogs! The Taking Of Pelham 123! Old Dogs! From Paris With Love! Savages! Chanting his recent slew of Hollywood ventures doesn’t produce the same amount of excitement, does it? And that’s because most of them were – for the most part – downright abominable. I’d imagine that Travolta would wipe them all off of his filmography given the chance, because Old Dogs is a really, really hard film to be proud of, isn’t it? Yeah.


    • The Battle For Relevancy: 15 Stars Struggling To Stay Popular:


      John Travolta’s career received a shot of adrenaline to the chest with Pulp Fiction in 1994. He’s seemed to remain in high demand since then though, like Nicolas Cage, some odd career moves have conspired against him. Recent sex and Scientology scandals surrounding the star haven’t helped matters, either. After sharing the burden of The Killing Season with the aforementioned De Niro and recovering from that awful Christmas album he did with Olivia Newton John, will Travolta see another Pulp Fiction style comeback? Probably not, but Gotti: In the Shadow of My Father is an upcoming project that holds promise. The mafia biopic from Captain America director Joe Johnston is a strong contender for Travolta to show audiences he still carries dramatic talent. Standing alongside heavy hitters like co-star Anthony Hopkins, Travolta better blow the roof off as John Gotti Senior.


    • 10 Actors Who Clearly Didn’t Learn Anything From Past Mistakes:


      1. John Travolta

      John Travolta should know better by now. After his 1994 appearance in Quentin Tarantino’s legendary Pulp Fiction, the actor was given an Oscar nomination and more importantly a shot at a new beginning, but, to put it simply, he squandered it. Things started off promisingly of course, with his roles in Get Shorty, Face Off and Primary Colors showcasing the swaggering charisma that attracted us to Travolta in the first place.

      But similar to his pre-Pulp Fiction days the actor’s legendary ego seemed to get the better of him by the beginning of the 2000s. First there was Battlefield Earth – a repugnant, unholy pet project if there ever was one – which was followed by the almost equally silly Swordfish, an insipid adaptation of the The Punisher and a pair of idiotic farces (Wild Hogs and Old Dogs) by the director of Van Wilder: Party Liaison.

      It’s easy to understand what drew Travolta to many of these projects. Pulp Fiction put him back into superstar territory, the place where actors can command insane money per film (he made $20 million for at least nine of his films since 1997). Making this type of coin would turn anyone goofy, and perhaps mar their ability to pursue artistically resonant work. Yet, it has never been clear whether Travolta wasn’t simply an odd duck to begin with: this is a man who will probably continue to self destruct professionally, and this time even QT might not be able to save him.


  35. 10 Most Wildly Inconsistent Actors In Movie History:


    John Travolta

    John Travolta hasn’t quite veered into bad actor territory yet – people have too many fond memories of the guy in movies like Grease and Pulp Fiction for that, and was wonderful in movies such as Blow Out and Saturday Night Fever. Fact is, though, Travolta has made tons and tons of bad movies – not just movies where the script sucked or the direction wasn’t up to scratch, but roles where Travolta himself seems to be suspended in some sort of restricted acting tank. You never know what you’re gonna get with this guy.

    Travolta is clearly an actor who can only work up a screen presence if he’s paired with the right material – that’s why he thrived in Pulp Fiction. Tarantino penned the role especially for the actor, and even helped to bring his career back into the limelight. But pluck any recent movie out of Travolta’s filmography and you’ll find yourself staring into a few admirable performances (Ladder 49, Hairspray) and some real duds where the man seems to have tapped into singular emotions only (The Taking of Pelham 123). These days, casting Travolta in anything is akin to playing a game of Russian roulette.


  36. John hits 60 today,BTW!!!!!!


  37. Here’s another Merv Griffin clip with John & Olivia on life after Grease and other things…


    • Wow. ONJ’s legs!


    • Really cool interview to watch, when both Travolta and Newton-John were still at the peak of their careers in the early 80’s. Thanks for sharing.

      Lebeau, after watching this video you might consider ammending your Debra Winger article a tiny bit: at 3:46, host Merv Griffin claims that at the time Debra Winger was cast in Urban Cowboy, she was working as a receptionist at The Merv Griffin Show! Merv jokes that Travolta stole her away from his show for his movie. How cool a factoid is that? Something I’ve never heard anywhere else.


      • That is a good one. I’ll have to incorporate that nugget. Thanks for calling it out.


        • What’s funny is when Merv asks Travolta and Olivia “Will there be a Son of a Grease? Grease Junior? A Grease 2? Grease Strikes Back?”

          Merv’s attitude about a sequel, “Son Of A Grease”, is pretty funny, but also telling of the time. It’s funny to think that back during that era, film sequels in general still had a much different reputation than they do now. For many years, sequels for the most part were considered by the masses as inferior product, a generic carbon copy and pretty much always grossed much less than the original or previous film in the series. Much different than today’s world, where every big-budget film is intended to create a new franchise and each sequel is expected to gross more than the previous entry, today sequels and film franchises are the bread and butter of Hollywood. Hearing Merv refer to a Grease sequel as “Son Of A Grease” made me think about how attitudes towards sequels have changed significantly in the past 30 or so years.


  38. Eillio Martin Imbasciati

    In John Travolta’s lengthy career, he has been a part of some excellent films and some duds. I guess this is bound to happen with such a robust resume. i have no problem with the guy, and many of his films (“saturday Night fever”, “Blowout”, “Pulp Fiction”, “Face/Off”, “Get Shorty”, etc.) I have enjoyed immensely. Also, my mother likes him (from the days of “Welcome Back Kotter”), there’s that as well. Next month I’m Netflix -ing “Savages”, so I’ll have to see how that film goes.


  39. 10 Movies That Changed Your Mind About Actors You Loved:


    John Travolta – Battlefield Earth

    It’s hard what to make of John Travolta regardless of the existence of Battlefield Earth, given that his career has dived and soared so many times over the course of recent years – but it was this strange and frankly godawful adaptation of a L. Ron Hubbard novel that seemed to mark the turning point for most fans. Whereas Travolta earned a nice little career resurgence in the aftermath of Pulp Fiction, it was this space-based monstrosity that made the actor’s regular fans into his biggest detractors, asking questions like: “What the f*ck are you doin’, Travolta?”

    As a long-time Scientologist, John Travolta had long-attempted to get Battlefield Earth made, even though there was absolutely nobody alive (apart from Tom Cruise, perhaps) who wanted to see it. The movie flopped, of course, just as any movie that requires its Hollywood star to dress up like a blue-skinned douchebag should. So although Pulp Fiction, Get Shorty, Face/Off and The Thin Red Line brought Travolta back into the limelight, Battlefield Earth marked him out as that “certified weirdo behind one of the worst films ever made.” It’s hard to know what to think.


  40. Heather Skye

    His son Jett’s death in 2009 seemed to have completely ruined his reputation. He faced a lot of criticism for not being public about his son’s autism, and it was rumored that Jett needed special medication or care that Scientology doesn’t approve of. People really hated him and Kelly Preston after that. I believe that incident, along with the above mentioned scandals and the bad movies, is the reason John Travolta has faded away in Hollywood. Tom Cruise isn’t liked much anymore, either.


    • The whole Scientology thing is a huge can of worms. I’m going to drop the snark for a second because we’re talking about the loss of a child. And that’s just tragic. I think Travolta’s career was already waning by 2009, but his public image has certainly gone to hell since then.


  41. One thing that perplex me about Travolta’s gay rumours were that the men that came out to say that they had sex/relationship with Travolta seems to be a mismatch to him. I recalled watching Chelsea Lately and saw a brief clip of an interview with the masseur that file charge against Travolta and the guy wasn’t attractive at all.

    The pilot story aside, one would think that someone with his kind of money and connection should be able to arrange for a discreet escort if he want sex. He wouldn’t be the first one in the industry to went that route.

    Why would he went to some random masseurs and tried to fondle them if it wasn’t the kind of place that allow… well… happy ending?


    • After Hugh Grant, I don’t ask those sorts of questions. Or for that matter, Bill Clinton. These guys could have done much, much better and been much more discreet. But sometimes rich and famous people do really stupid things.


      • True… Or George Michael’s various outdoor misconducts…

        I wanna add that, if the rumours were true, John Travolta seems to have terrible taste in men in comparison to his beautiful wife. And this is from a gay man.


        • George Michael is another terrific example.

          I always assumed Preston was a Scientology-arranged trophy wife kind of thing even before rumors of his homosexuality became headlines. I almost said before they surfaced but I guess they were always kind of floating around. I won’t attempt to get into the head of anyone who believes in Xenu. Or who tries to make a sequel to Battlefield Earth for that matter.


          • In a way, it was interesting how Scientology managed these high profile people’s life the way the movie studio used to do (at least the studio control their public life) in the… 40s? 50s?


  42. The only difference being that the old studio systems tried to make the stars look good in every way possible and hide their scandals; Scientology doesn’t seem to care how foolish or terrible their people end up looking.


  43. Why does anyone care if John Travolta is gay or by sexual? He is an actor. The only one who should care is his wife Kelly. Charles Laughton was gay, and his wife, Elsa Maxwell, put up with his outrageous behavior for years and years. Drew Barrymore has said she is bi sexual and on and on. I don’t care for Travolta, but I thought he was great in “Saturday Night Fever” and even the cute “Look Who’s talking.”


    • I couldn’t care less about Travolta’s sexuality and I agree no one else should either outside of those who are personally concerned. But Travolta is very concerned with managing his image and seems to think this would ruin it if word got out.


  44. I recalled John Travolta told Jay Leno on Tonight’s Show. The clip of Travolta’s old movie, The Boy in the Plastic Bubble, was shown and Travolta said that he thought he was fat back then. I supposed that could be interpret as he had issues with his image from way back when. But I am certain that Actress had it worst than Actor in this regard.


    • Actresses almost always have it worse. But I think that probably tells you a lot about how image-conscious Travolta was/is. Which, frankly, is probably a big part of his success.


  45. i find it weird how samuel worked with Quentin so many times yet travolta only onces and he continues credits him for saving his career is it so weird that Quentin dosent have a role that would be perfect for travolta in a movie he used uma more then once. another thing is hes good buddies with cruise how about a movie with them both starring cruise is still a box office draw it would help travoltas career even if its only a supporting role


    • Travolta’s another one that seems to be shying away from the spotlight after recent events. I don’t think he wants to be making a high profile movie right now.


      • I’m a huge fan of Tarantino’s films. I’m a big fan of Travolta too. He was absolutely perfect for Pulp Fiction, but I can’t think of any role that Travolta would’ve been right for in Jackie Brown. Or the Kill Bill movies. Or Inglorious Basturds. Or Django Unchained. I dunno, maybe a tiny bit cameo, sure, you could always squeeze Travolta in that way in a winking cameo, but there just isn’t any right role for him in any subsequent Tarantino films. You could say the same thing for Bruce Willis for that matter. Say what you will about Samuel L. Jackson, but he has versatility and fits more easily into Tarantino’s films.


        • Boom! That sums it up. They have both been talking about working together for quite a while. But post Pulp/Get Shorty, Travolta had a very specific screen personae which would have been distracting if he was miscast. There’s no reason to shoehorn him into a role that isn’t perfect for him. Especially after he was so perfectly cast in Pulp Fiction.


  46. travolta could have easly had leos role in django i could see him in that jackson i agree does fit there and travolta when he wants to he plays a great villian i could actually him being the bad guy in kill bill travolta and willis must been difficult to work with cause tarantino casts same people more then once in movies how else would it explain that i still think he should work with cruise guaranteed hit


    • I think having Travolta and Jackson on screen together again in Django would have been very distracting. Frankly, Leo’s star status was a bit distracting as is. But I think a Travolta/Jackson reunion would have pulled everyone right out of the movie the second they were on screen together.

      Bill was the one role I thought maybe Travolta would fit in. But again, you have that Thurman/Travolta reunion. when they meet, you would be expecting them to do the twist.


  47. it wouldnt be distracting or he could not cast as samuel in 1 movie mix it up a bit add bruce wliis in a movie.maybe a superhero movie is a good fit for some reason i can see him as a comminsor Gordon in the new batman/superman movie. At this age he should try more supporting roles. Lastly tarento was a no name indie director when they first met he could try to find another no name indie director recapture that same magic. Or finally he could just team up with his good buddy cruise for instant hit.


  48. it wouldnt be distracting or he can not cast jackson in 1 movie try new things cast willis and travolta. Superheros movies are now and for some reason i can see him as Gordan in the new batman/superman movie tarento was a no name director when they met he might need another no name director recapture the same magic. But working with his good buddy cruise would mean instant hit since cruise is still a huge draw


  49. john should stray always from lame comedies like old dogs. dark roles like pulp fiction,face off really suit him i can see him playing a villian again,


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