Movie star John Travolta got the welcome of his life when he took to the stage of the Theatre Royal Drury Lane last night as lesser actors were feted at the Baftas just around the corner.
It was the sort of noisy entrance usually reserved for rock stars. Fans, male and female, had paid up to £350 a ticket to enjoy A Conversation With John Travolta and they gave the film icon rapturous applause.
The hysterical screaming, the standing ovation and the declarations of love that he walked out to, delayed the show for at least five minutes but the birthday boy was chuffed to bits and, in turn, pushed up the charm offensive to nuclear.
It was hard to believe that JT, dressed in black and sporting an impressive head of black hair (plus the micro-goatee that did him no favours) celebrates his 60th birthday tomorrow.
He doesn’t look a day over 40 and had everyone wriggling in their seat and having hot flushes – especially when he announced he intended to make love to everyone in the audience (the guys may have had a problem but their wives were certainly up for it).
One lucky lady had her dream come true when her husband offered her up for a dance. She almost passed out as JT smooched close and slow as her hubby took snaps. It was a moment she’ll treasure forever.
The 90-minute show, hosted by film pundit Barry Norman, started with a 15 minute montage of the actor’s films which ranged from his movie debut in Carrie through the iconic films of the last 40-plus years – Saturday Night Fever, Pulp Fiction, Grease, Urban Cowboy, Primary Colors, Blow Out, Phenomenon, Hairspray and more..
Later he was to admit there were quite a few film roles that he’d turned down – American Gigolo, Splash, Chicago - and a few he was forced to make against his wishes just to honour contracts.
Now he only takes parts that interest him and admitted that he wants play a Bond villain.
“It’s the first time I’ve ever asked for a role but I bumped into Barbara Broccali at the Oscars last year and she offered it to me – mind you we’d both had a few drinks!
“I would love to be a villain to Daniel Craig’s hero. I hope it will happen.”
Travolta talked with honesty about the sudden death in 2009 of his son Jett and acknowledged the support the Scientology movement had given him as the family coped with their grief. “My life will never be the same again,” he admitted. “Life was no longer of interest to me. “
The actor gave up work for three years and now only takes projects that spark an interest. His latest, The Forger, is released later this year.
His eyes twinkled when he got on to his favourite subject – planes. His boy toys now number five, although he is qualified to fly 11 different types of planes, and he clearly gets a huge thrill from piloting them, using Luton Airport as his local garage to house his jet, when in the UK.
He flirted outrageously with the audience, at one point illustrating that he’d lost none of his signature moves, by inviting a group of women onto the stage to dance to Grease. This went well until one devoted fan, and there’s always one, threw her arms around his neck and refused to let go.
The star first found fame in a US TV series Get Kotter when he was in his early 20s. He auditioned for Jesus Christ Superstar and was turned down but producer Robert Stigwood saw Travolta’s potential and cast him in an upcoming musical movie called Saturday Night Fever. The rest, as they say is history.
Travolta has played heroes and villains, angels, presidents and housewives. He’s ridden out lulls in his career with dignity and confesses to being a workaholic who loves a challenge.
“I don’t have time for regrets”, he said. “I’m not a regrets kind of guy.”
He presented himself as sincere, honest, hard-working and loving. “I act simply for the pleasure of performing. I like to keep busy. I’m not money orientated or fame orientated. I just do the best I can”.
He is a dedicated family man who clearly adores his two children, Benjamin and Ella. His beloved two sisters Ellen and Margaret were watching the show and later joined him on-stage to receive a plane-shaped birthday cake.
It was a memorable night spent with a Hollywood legend.