Kelly Preston: One, Two, Three
In the late 90’s, John Travolta was enjoying his post Pulp Fiction comeback. His career was firing on all cylinders. His wife, Kelly Preston, was getting back to work after having given birth to the couple’s first child. Preston had been working as an actress for over a decade without attracting much attention. But after a couple of supporting roles in buzzworthy movies, Preston’s career started heating up.
It was during this period of increased relevancy that Martha Frankel interviewed Preston for a profile in Movieline magazine. Frankel’s questions are mostly about Preston’s famous husband, but Preston doesn’t seem to mind. The piece ran in the April 1997 issue of Movieline magazine. From a modern day point of view, the article takes on a different tone in light of Preston’s son’s tragic death in 2009.
Kelly Preston has always been more famous for the men she’s dated than the movies she’s made. The movies: Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn, Amazon Women on the Moon, A Tiger’s Tale, among others. The men: Charlie Sheen, George Clooney, John Travolta (spouse), among others. I rest my case.
But all that has just changed. Preston is not likely to become more famous than her husband, but she turned heads with her canny performances as Tom Cruise’s ferocious ex-fiancee in Jerry Maguire and as a radical feminist lesbian lawyer in Citizen Ruth. And she’s got Addicted to Love, with Meg Ryan and Matthew Broderick, and Nothing To Lose, with Tim Robbins and Martin Lawrence, on the way.
Preston greets me at the door to her trailer on the set where she’s working.
“This place is unbelievable,” I tell her, scanning the interior decked out with antique pottery and dozens of photos of husband Travolta and son Jett.
“Antiques are my weakness,” says Preston. “Don’t you just love something so much more when you get a deal? Look at these glasses … I could drink out of them for the rest of my life. My husband has planes, I have antiques.”
“I have to tell you,” I say, “that when I was young, I was pretty sure that I was going to become Mrs. John Travolta.”
Preston laughs. “I was 16 when I saw Saturday Night Fever. I thought it was the greatest thing, so I went with a friend to take disco dancing lessons.” Preston stands up, throws her hand in the air and does a dead-on imitation of Travolta’s famous pose. “I did not, believe me, think I would end up being Mrs. Travolta.”
“I know you didn’t, because I have the quote to prove it,” I say, leafing through my papers.
Preston hides her eyes. “All right, what did I say?”
“It’s in this story that US did when you were living with George Clooney. You were about to do a movie with John Travolta and the reporter asked if you were excited to be working with him, and you said, ‘He’s really sexy, but not as sexy as my man.'” I show her the clip, which I’ve highlighted.
“Omigod, what was I thinking?”
I know I’m supposed to be talking about Preston’s career, but we have to get a few things out of the way first. “Do you guys ever go out dancing?”
“Oh yeah. We love to go touch-dancing at the Rainbow Room at the top of Rockefeller Center. We dance together really well. I’d rather be dancing with my husband than anyone else.”
“That’s amazing,” I tell her, “because I’d rather be dancing with your husband than anyone else. OK, no more questions about him …”
“Oh, I don’t mind at all. I think it’s cute that you’re such a fan of his.”
“So this has been quite a year for you,” I begin.
“I’ll say,” she says. “I fought really hard to get my parts in Citizen Ruth and Jerry Maguire. I hadn’t worked a lot since Jett was born, and I decided that I wanted to do work that was different from what I did before, roles that didn’t depend so much on my looks. For Citizen Ruth, I was originally interested in the role Swoozie Kurtz got. When she was cast, I said, ‘OK, then I’ll play her young lesbian lover.’ I went to the audition with a wig and these clothes … you know, she was supposed to be a real dyke. Can I say that?”
“Honey, you can say whatever you want.”
“Well, I got the part. And Jerry Maguire was loads of fun to do. Now I have Nothing To Lose, a comedy about a guy whose wife is cheating on him–I’m the wife–and Addicted to Love, in which I play the object of Matthew Broderick’s obsession. All in all, it’s been one hell of a year.”
“How did you feel when John won the Golden Globe [for Get Shorty] and he thanked L. Ron Hubbard [the founder of Scientology] and he didn’t thank you?”
“I just felt so bad for Johnny. I knew he was going to die when he realized what happened. When he was walking off the stage, I saw it hit him.”
“Did you make him grovel afterwards?”
“No, not at all, because he had rehearsed his speech for me and it was so cute, so loving to me and to Jett.”
“There were lots of people who felt that he didn’t get the Academy Award nomination because of that …”
“Because he didn’t mention me?”
“No, because he did mention L. Ron Hubbard.”
“That’s fucked up. Do you think so? I doubt that people really care one way or the other about Scientology … If they do it’s because they’re naive or they’ve heard all the bullshit. Have you ever read Dianetics?”
“Maybe you shouldn’t ask me that on tape,” I say.
“Like I really give a shit what people say, anyway. Why should I have to explain my spiritual side to anyone? You should read Dianetics. And call me when you’re done. We’ll talk.”
“Do you fly commercial?” I ask, remembering that Travolta owns three jets.
“I do if it’s just me. But I would much rather fly with my husband than be on a commercial jet with anyone else.”
Funny, but I’d probably rather fly with her husband than anyone else, too. “How’d John convince you to name the baby ‘Jett’? I figure there were some serious negotiations over that.”
Preston laughs. “I said that I’d do it as long as there were two t’s.”
Preston interrupts our talk and walks to the door of the trailer. “I’ll be right back …”
“No, don’t leave me here alone,” I kid her. “I might steal something.” I eye the photos of Preston and Travolta lolling on some stunning Caribbean beach.
Preston winks, throws back her head and says, “Go ahead, take whatever you want. Now we know who to call if Johnny and I ever need a wife.”
Martha Frankel interviewed Howard Stern for the Jan/Feb issue of Movieline.