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John Travolta

John Travolta, award-winning actor, discusses his new movie, 'Battlefield Earth'

May 2, 2000
Web posted at: 2:00 p.m. EDT

(CNN) – John Travolta’s new movie, 'Battlefield Earth,' opens nationwide May 12.  The science fiction film is based on L. Ron Hubbard’s epic novel.  Travolta stars as Terl, an evil, nine-foot-tall alien from the Psychlo race that has dominated Earth for a millenium.  The film portrays a hero’s fight to save the world from the dark forces led by Terl.

A well-known actor, John Travolta was nominated for an Academy Award for his performances in “Pulp Fiction” and “Saturday Night Fever.“  He received a Golden Globe award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Musical, or Comedy for his starring role in “Get Shorty.”  A veteran of many films, Travolta was originally catapulted to success for his role as Vinnie Barbarino in the television hit, “Welcome Back, Kotter.”

Chat Moderator: Thank you for joining us today, John Travolta, and welcome.

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John Travolta:  Hello everybody.

Question from Morgan:  You have had the dream of making this movie for a long time.  Are you pleased with how it came out?

John Travolta:  I'm thrilled.  The audience reaction in every city that we've gone to has been overwhelming:  cheers, laughs, applause.

Question from actor:  When shooting a movie, do you find the schedule and intensity tiring?

John Travolta:  Yes, on this movie, because of the type of wardrobe apparatus and makeup.  It took four hours a day to get ready.

Question from enoki:  How well do you believe the movie reflects the book?

John Travolta:  I believe that we've hit all the favorite story points from the book and, fortunately, the special effects have come to a “state of the art” situation.

Question from Avi:  What was the most difficult part in playing Terl?

John Travolta:  The most difficult part was probably the discomfort of the makeup and wardrobe.  The favorite part was the dialogue and character behavior.

Question from Sunny1-CNN:  Is it more fun to play a bad guy?

John Travolta:  Yes, it can be more fun playing the bad guy if it's well written.  And this is probably one of the best comic villains ever written.

Question from Moose:  Although Terl was the "bad" guy, there were times when compassion was evident.  How did you study to show some of this compassion?

John Travolta:  I didn't because I never noticed any compassion in the book or the screenplay.  That was part of the fun.

Question from ribbo:  Will this movie appeal to those of us who don't traditionally like sci-fi?  Is there some human element to it as well?

John Travolta:  Yes, I think because of the success of the book -- six million copies worldwide -- there's evidence that it appeals to all.   I think the reason is because it's the first kind of realistic science fiction film.  The characters are more familiar to the viewer in the way that they think.  For example, the criminals -- which are in this case Psychlo aliens -- leverage blackmail and take advantage, not unlike your common gangster.  And the good guys are very reflective of our best nature.

Question from Morgan:  What message would you like people to get from the movie?

John Travolta: Well, mostly I want them to be entertained and interpret anything they want out of it, much like “Pulp Fiction” or other movies that entertain.

Question from SATELLITE:  Did you do your own stunts in 'Battlefield Earth'?

John Travolta:  Yes, because Terl mostly had fight stunts.  It was the character of Johnny that had most of the difficult physical stunts.  Apparently, he did most of his stunts as well.

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Question from ribbo:  Did you enjoy working with Forest Whitaker again?

John Travolta:  I loved working with Forest again.  He is such a malleable actor that, as in “Phenomenon,” we could play best friends.  Here we could play wicked adversaries.

Question from Hyperion:  Mr. Travolta, after doing this movie, do you think you would like do to more science fiction type movies?

John Travolta:  I think that I would like to always vary the genre that I play in and jockey between them.

Question from Avi:  Even though this film hasn't been released yet, I heard there are plans for a sequel.

John Travolta:  Yes.  We did the first 500 pages of the book and we're planning to do the second 500 pages next year.  It will be released the following year.

Question from Brainy:  John, you knew L. Ron Hubbard.  Do you think he would have liked the movie?

John Travolta:  Yes.  I think that Hubbard would have loved this movie.

Question from WxDude:  Mr. Travolta, what has been your most personally rewarding movie to date?

John Travolta:  This one and “Grease” and “Pulp Fiction” and “Saturday Night Fever” and “Phenomenon.”  When you say “personally,” there are reasons for all of that.

Question from deef:  Of all the parts you've played, which character is closest to the real John Travolta?

John Travolta:  “Phenomenon” and “Look Who's Talking.”

Question from deef:  Mr. Travolta, do you ever catch yourself watching reruns of "Welcome Back, Kotter"?

John Travolta:  Yes, and I get a kick out of it every time I do.  Sometimes I even forget the different episodes, which is fun to be reminded about.

Question from ImaFan:  How did you learn to walk in those big boots and how long did it take?

John Travolta:  The boots were modified to a comfortable height and it didn't take very long at all.  The headpiece was modified to where I could remove it between takes.  That was far more comfortable.

Question from mdswg25:  Do you have any plans of going behind the camera?

John Travolta:  If I do go behind the camera, it will be with my book, "Propeller One-Way Night Coach."  That's because it's so special to me.

Question from Morgan:  Two of your favorites have been musicals.  Do you have any plans to do more of those?

John Travolta:  I would love to.  However, Hollywood is not as fond of them as I am.

Chat Moderator: Do you have any final thoughts to share with us?

John Travolta:  I just would love to thank everybody for allowing me to diversify my films to the extent that they do.  It's a pleasure entertaining you.

Chat Moderator:  Thank you for joining us today!

John Travolta:  Goodbye, and I hope I see you on May 12 at the movie theaters.

John Travolta joined the Entertainment chat via telephone from Atlanta.  CNN provided a typist for him.  The above is an edited transcript of the chat.


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