Setbacks only motivated John Travolta more.
On the new episode of Kevin Hart’s show “Hart to Heart”, the actor talks about how losing out on roles to Richard Gere pushed him to take his star-making role in “Saturday Night Fever”.
“The second indication, if you will, of having a solidity in the movie industry was a director called Terrence Malick,” Travolta recalled. “He directed very important films in the ’70s, and he wanted me for a film called ‘Days of Heaven’, and I screen-tested for it right after ‘Carrie’ and before ‘The Boy in the Plastic Bubble’.”
The actor explained that he got the role but couldn’t do it because of his commitments to the TV series “Welcome Back, Kotter”.
“But it was such a significant role, that Richard Gere ended up doing, which ended up a theme, where he did many roles I didn’t do,” Travolta said, explaining that it was the second time such a thing happened, after first losing out on the lead role in “The Last Detail” to Jack Nicholson.
He went on, “So between ‘The Last Detail’ and ‘Days of Heaven’, I really got the idea that the force wanted me to be a film actor, so by the time I got the ‘Saturday Night Fever’ opportunity, I said, ‘I’m gonna make this work. I’m gonna do everything I can to make this an authentic, great performance.'”
Travolta also joked, looking at the actors who went on to have careers with roles he’d been up for, “I take responsibility for Richard and Tom Hanks. There’s enough for everybody.”
He added, “Arts shouldn’t be hoarded,” before telling Hart that Hanks’ role in “Splash” was originally written for him. “But then we wouldn’t have Tom Hanks, so let’s have Tom Hanks!”