FromPulp to Os­car meme, Tra­volta’s highs and lows

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS in New York

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.

PHO­TOS BY AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Above: John Tra­volta in a scene from TheTakingofPel­ham123. Be­low: His ca­reer has been one of dra­matic ups and downs.

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