firework2.gif (36061 bytes)About "Battlefield Earth"

It's taken him 15 years to make, but John Travolta figured out a way to get L. Ron Hubbard's epic Sci-Fi novel on the big screen... he'd have to star in it and he'd have to produce it.
Betty chats with the mega star about impressions, the whole scientology connection, and his latest role, that of Terl, the 9 foot, 250 pound, Chef of Security alien in "Battlefield Earth".

Betty: Remember me John? I was the one that did an impersonation of you at the "A Civil Action" junket?
John: Of course I do. You did a great job.

Betty: Your Battlefield co-star, Forest Whitaker, told me to ask you for one of your impressions.
John: Sure. It can't be as good as the one you did of me...which one did you do?

Betty: I think I did Danny Zuko from "Grease".
John: [laughs] Hmm, I can't even do that one anymore!

Betty: He said you did a great Katherine Hepburn.
John: [all shaky-voiced] Oh stop...I don't like that.

Betty: And Barbara Streisand...
John: [crosses his eyes in true Babs fashion] Of course. It's so good to be here wit all of you press.

Betty: Where does that special talent come from?
John: Just being a New Jersey kid that liked show business. Also, I'm half Irish and half Italian, and the Irish are very famous for mimicking people. I don't know if you know that, but in an Irish neighborhood, it's a very big deal, you know, to come home and do your teacher, and your coach and whoever else.

Betty: With so much focus on the human fight for freedom and independence, it seems that this movie talks a lot about Hubbard's philosophy. Was that main goal of yours as producer?
John: I thought it was interesting, but even a "Pulp Fiction" - what is the meaning behind that briefcase opening? Or "Phenomenon"? Every great story has things that are left open for interpretation. But this is a classic Good vs. Evil film. One guy even compared it to a Western. Which I thought was an interesting analogy. I think in most great stories you have things that are open for interpretation.

Betty: When did you first read "Battlefield Earth" and how did it grow into something you'd actually make?
John: Well, I read it 1982 and I was attracted to play the hero in it [Jonny Goodboy] at the time. The reason why I loved it was because Hubbard wrote these small chapters that kept me wanting to read more. And I thought it was clever. I wrote one book [Propeller One Way Night Coach] and if I ever write another one, I'm going to do the same thing. Because I think people can confront 5-10 pages at a time easily. I found I wasn't able to put it down. And I like to change genres as much as I can. So if I ever was going to do a Sci-Fi movie, it would've had to be this one or "Stranger in A Strange Land".

Betty: But there's been so much speculation that this movie has it's core in Scientology. There's even a nasty rumor that there's subliminal messages in it. Can you address those issues?
John: Sure. There's no correlation at all to Scientology. Even in the preface of the book, he makes it very clear that this is Science Fiction. And as you know, it's won 11 consecutive Best Seller spots in the New York Times. And prior to that, he was probably best known as a Science Fiction writer. The funny thing is, only about 20% of the questions have been about what you're bringing up. However, it used to be when I'd bring up the philosophy, people would say, "Well, isn't he a Science Fiction writer?" It depends on what angle someone wants to take. I mean 6 million copies of the best Science Fiction book ever written kinda speaks for itself.

Betty: How much of this movie is personal to you?
John: Well, I think that you know the truth in Hollywood. It's very difficult for any artist to get whatever they want to have, get done. Interestingly enough, it was easier to get a genre like Science Fiction on the screen than it was a musical. I've been trying for 20 years to get a musical on the screen. Nobody gets it - although that's been one of my most successful genres. It's thought to get anything you want. I thought this would be easier to get made.

Betty: I know that most of this movie focuses on Jonny Goodboy (played by Barry Pepper) and the humans' fight for humanity. I only wish - and maybe if you do a sequel we'll see this - but I wanted to see more of Terl. I would dig seeing Terl at home, Terl in his private life... Any chance of that happening? Any chance of you going away from the novel and maybe having a little bit of artistic license?
John: Well, Terl is throughout the 1000 page book. We could only do 500 pages of the book, so we hit the highlights of it. But we hit the best moments of Terl and Jonny and the special effects. The second part gets interesting because it brings in other countries, and Terl becomes more like a third party, trying to get people against Jonny. So it's a little more intricate. I was happy how the writer hit on all of the favorite notes. We took scenes right out of the book, like with Kelly [Preston] trying to blackmail him. But she added the tongue concept.

Betty: Of course she did - I would too! Well, thanks for talking with me again, John.
John: You're welcome, BeatBoxBetty!