FromPulp to Oscar meme, Travolta’s highs and lows
Since strutting onto the big screen in Saturday Night Fever, John Travolta has had a career marked by dramatic ups and downs, from comeback king to Internet meme.
Travolta’s latest step back into the spotlight at the Academy Awards was uneasy. He’s been widely pilloried for his touching of IdinaMenzel’s face while he cooed “You, you my darling, my beautiful, my wickedly talented Idina Menzel”.
“Apparently I played with her chin too much,” Travolta told Jimmy Kimmel about his reunion with Menzel. At the conclusion of the Oscars, host Neil Patrick Harris predicted Travolta (booked to redeem himself for his infamous mangling of Menzel’s name the year before) will be back at next year’s show to apologize again for “all the face touching”.
Images of Travolta kissing Scarlett Johansson in front of photographers on the red carpet also went viral, turning the star into a social media punch line. Johansson, however, defended Travolta in a statement to The Associated Press, saying, “There is nothing at all strange, creepy or inappropriate about John Travolta” and called the photo “an unfortunate still-frame from a live-action encounter that was very sweet and totally welcome”.
The Oscar incidents come at a time when Travolta, 61, is prepping a handful of projects and ahead of the release of an explosive documentary on Scientology that focuses considerably on Travolta’s relationship with the organization. Should that upcoming film, Going Clear, from the Oscarwinning documentarian Alex Gibney, go on to be Oscar-nominated, as many expect it to, it could again make Travolta a part of next year’s AcademyAwards, albeit in amuch different way.
But Travolta has long navigated the ebb and flow of celebrity, relying on his boyish charisma and a few good dance moves for numerous revivals. Here’s a look at his highs and lows:
High: Travolta emphatically debuted as a leading man in the 1977 disco sensation Saturday Night Fever. He followed it up as Danny Zuko in 1978’s Grease, forever immortalizing his high voice and pomade-slicked hair.
Low: The 1980s weren’t nearly as good to Travolta as the ’70s. He worked consistently, but in a string of flops like Perfect, inwhich he played a Rolling Stone reporter.
High: Though the Look Who’s Talking comedies restored Travolta’s popularity, his resurrection was undoubtedly due to one man: Quentin Tarantino. Travolta’s performance as Vincent Vega earned him his second Oscar nomination and brought on a rush of work, including the acclaimed Elmore Leonard adaptation Get Shorty.
Low: The Pulp Fiction rejuvenation did not last long. In 2000, he starred in perhaps the biggest bomb of his career: Battlefield Earth. It was made by independent production company Franchise Pictures (which was later convicted for inflating the budget to Battlefield Earth and went bankrupt), with Travolta putting up money of his own. It’s frequently ranked among the worst movies of the decade.
Above: John Travolta in a scene from TheTakingofPelham123. Below: His career has been one of dramatic ups and downs.