Space on the brain
Fair enough, as Travolta has had space
and science fiction on his brain ever since he first read and fell in love
with Hubbard's 1982 novel, which follows a lone hero's fight to restore
freedom to an enslaved Earth in the year 3000.
"It's a page-turner," he said, adding,
"It's great for how realistic a sci-fi movie it is, how funny it is and
how innovative it is to do as a movie."
Travolta has been in many novel-to-film
adaptations before, but not one he's fought for years to produce. During
filming Travolta said he and the film's director trusted Hubbard's text
to get them through rough parts.
Travolta mentioned two scenes -- one
with his wife, Kelly Preston, and one where hero Jonnie Goodboy Tyler gives
a key speech on the ground with cattle -- as examples of where Hubbard's
novel will march off the page onto the screen.
"It was just like other movies from
books, like [The] General's Daughter, [A] Civil Action, or Primary
[Colors]," he said. "When we had a problem, we went back to the book."
Farewell to the hero
Travolta said he originally saw himself
as Tyler, but as he waited to earn the Hollywood clout to make the film,
he changed his mind.
"As I got older and not right for Jonnie
and more known for playing villains, we thought we'd let someone young
and a genuine outdoorsman play the part," he said.
That "outdoorsman" is Saving Private
Ryan's master sniper, Barry Pepper.
Travolta snagged the part of Terl,
Earth's security chief and a nine-foot tall member of the evil Psychlo
Originally cast as the hero in John
Woo's Broken Arrow, Travolta chose to switch roles with eventual
hero Christian Slater, and critics said Travolta wound up with the better
But does he regret missing the chance
to play the hero of one of his favorite novels?
"No," he said. "There was no part I
didn't enjoy. I loved every moment. He was so funny because he's a comic
villain. I loved the intricacies of the blackmail the double jeopardy of
Terl is a "comic" villain -- in the
mode of a classic playwright?
"Yes, it's a ride you get on," he said.
"It's almost Shakespearean."
Just a movie
Controversy has followed Battlefield
Earth because of author L. Ron Hubbard's role in creating the Church
of Scientology, of which Travolta is a member.
Some anti-scientology groups claim
the film is a recruiting poster for the church and has subliminal messages.
The church -- with Travolta -- flatly denies this.
"The truth of why I'm doing it is because
it's a great piece of science fiction," Travolta said. "This is not about
Hubbard ... I'm very interested in Scientology, but that's personal. This
is different. This has nothing to do with Scientology."
What do you think? Send your comments
to the editor.