John Travolta on What He Looks For In A Screenplay

John Travolta as Moose in the thriller, “THE FANATIC,” a Quiver Distribution release. Photo courtesy of Quiver Distribution.

John Travolta, who stars in the upcoming The Fanatic, spoke about what he looks for in a screenplay during Wizard World Chicago.

On being asked about what he looks for in roles:

John Travolta: The most common thing: is it different than something I’ve done before? Or if it’s in a similar category, is it different enough for me to give a spin on it that would be entertaining to the audience? Only the actor knows that. We know before when we’re reading something—can we do something unique with that? Because if you look at something—let’s say Saturday Night Fever. Chili Palmer in Get Shorty. Let’s say there’s three similar categories of characters but they’re all different because I found something different in them where then you go do something extraordinarily different like Edna in Hairspray. Well, of course you’re going to do that!

Or if you’re going to play bad-ass guys like The Taking of Pelham 123 or Face/Off or Broken Arrow or all these films where I’m playing bad-ass guys. But they’re all different! So I look for the differences because I think if you compare Vic in Broken Arrow to the guy in Pelham, they’re very different. Or even The Punisher is very different from all of them. And then you look at the O.J. Simpson series I did where I played Robert Shapiro. He’s different from the lawyer that I played in A Civil Action. I just look for the colors of differences. In Pulp Fiction, that was a whole other kind of dark character but with a balance of humor of levity. I don’t know if that answers the question but I’m looking for differences.

It’s a matter of what excites you because if you’re excited, the audience is excited. They’re giving you permission to do what you want as long as you do it well and as long as you commit to that. You’ll see in Moose tonight—this guy is nothing like me but his heart is something I identify with.

On remembering moves from musicals such as Grease:

Wizard World Chicago will return August 20-23, 2020. The Fanatic opens in select theaters and Digital/VOD on August 30, 2019.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.