John Travolta to promote new film on 40th anniversary of Grease

Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta (both left) star in Grease (1978).
Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta (both left) star in Grease (1978).PHOTO: MEDIACORP

CANNES • If you are lucky enough to be on the beach in Cannes today, expect to hear people singing Hopelessly Devoted To You, You're The One That I Want and Summer Nights.

Many will know that these songs come from high-school musical Grease, with the movie being screened today to celebrate its 40th anniversary.

And fans might get a glimpse of its star, John Travolta, who is back in Cannes to promote his new film, Gotti, about a New York gangster.

In 1978, Travolta, already a global sensation, thanks to Saturday Night Fever the year before, came to the Cannes Film Festival to promote Grease, a huge hit that also made him a music star with songs from the soundtrack dominating the charts worldwide.

"The mid-point was Pulp Fiction, so it was 40 years, 20 years and today," Travolta reminisced.

In the movie, Pulp Fiction, directed by Quentin Tarantino, he portrays a philosophising hitman.

The film won Cannes' Palme d'Or top prize in 1994, giving a second wind to Travolta's career.

"My mother always told me when I was younger: 'Don't rush things. It's going to go very fast', and boom, here I am," he said.

"I've lived a long life, but it has really gone fast."

In his new film, Travolta plays John Gotti, a notorious mafia boss who died in 2002.

Travolta's wife, Kelly Preston, co-stars as Gotti's wife and the mother of their son who refuses to follow his father into the mob.

"He is very different from what I am and who I am and how I think and my values," Travolta said of playing the gangster.

"It's a completely different person - that's something fun to play."

Getting the film made, he said, was far less fun. "The challenges kept on knocking us down - different directors, different casts, different scripts - one was too shoot-'em-up , one was too family," he said.

"People like challenges and I was willing to stay with it until we saw it through."

The project first took root in 2011, when John Gotti Jr signed a deal with a little-known producer to make a film about his father.

But soon after Travolta agreed to take on the lead role, the movie ran into obstacles, triggering a seemingly endless exodus of directors.

Shooting finally began two years ago under the direction of Kevin Connolly of Entourage fame.

But the highly anticipated planned release in December last year was cancelled at the last minute.

However, this time, producers are confident that it will at last hit the screen, with indie distributor Vertical Entertainment having announced an American release on June 15.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 16, 2018, with the headline 'John Travolta to promote new film on 40th anniversary of Grease'. Print Edition | Subscribe