John Travolta comes to Adelaide and Brisbane next month as a headline act for Supanova Comic Con & Gaming, with fans already gearing up for the conversation of a lifetime.
John is the sort of famous that causes viral insanity with just a haircut, and a habit of working in the most iconic hits of modern filmmaking.
The go-to crush for the 'Grease' and 'Pulp Fiction' generations, Travolta’s managed to keep that silver fox cred alive, if his work in Pitbull’s ‘3 To Tango’ film clip is anything to go by.
But beyond the iconic moves and movies, is a movie-worthy story Adelaide Supanova goers have a once in a lifetime chance to hear (and ask) all about. Born in New Jersey in 1954, John was one of six Travolta children.
While his father owned a tire repair shop, his mother was an actress and dancer who encouraged John’s interest, eventually enrolling him in a New York drama school.
Ditching school for the limelight at 16, he moved to New York, then Hollywood, before joining the national touring company of a popular little musical called 'Grease'. When an opening in the New York production of the musical came, he scored his first Broadway role.
Moving back to Hollywood, John was called in to audition for an ABC comedy series, 'Welcome Back, Kotter', which hit airwaves in 1975. John’s character, Vinnie Barbarino, quickly wormed his way into the hearts of viewers, and was so beloved there have been cameos as far reaching as 2001 in 'The Drew Carey Show'.
Vinnie Barbarino was a taste of fame. His role as Billy Nolan, king of ‘he had it coming’ in 'Carrie' would turn out to be his first step into cult-classic territory. But it was 'Saturday Night Fever' and 'Grease' that solidified John’s celebrity status.
Speaking at the ANN’s 40th anniversary celebration of 'Grease' in 2018, John noted that he was lucky. “I had. . . 'Welcome Back, Kotter' as a warm up, so that gave me a great hand with fame. But I don’t know if anyone [could] prepare for what 'Saturday Night Fever' and 'Grease' could do to your mindset.”
Though the touring production had been wildly successful, he admitted that few thought the movie would be as popular. “With any movie that you present. . . who knows what the outcome will be? There were variations of interpretations of how 'Grease' would do. I think I was the only one who had confidence in 'Grease' because I had done the play on Broadway and on the road.”
This is the point in the story where John could easily have decided to be typecast rather than unemployed, with a slew of samey-same appearances as the affable, sometimes loutish, Italian boy. Instead, he shows up in a frankly ridiculous number of shows and movies, many of which have become icons and cult classics.
Veering wildly between comedy (the 'Look Who’s Talking' series and 'Get Shorty'), gore and grit ('Pulp Fiction'), drama ('Phenomenon', 'Michael') thrillers ('Face/Off' and 'Broken Arrow'), there isn’t a genre John hasn’t tried his hand at.
He’s even had a Marvel moment in the 2004 version of 'The Punisher'. And while not all of his movies are hits (lookin’ at you, 'Battlefield Earth'), even those are so earnestly acted that it’s hard to outright hate. Mock, sure, but hate? Never.
John, much like Supanova, is a fan of innovation and experimentation. Though there’s a wealth of iconic movies in John’s back catalogue, it’s his ongoing work that has him excited.
In a 'Good Morning America' interview in August 2019, he was quick to focus on new movie, 'Fanatic'. The difference between John’s telling of the plot and the trailer, is an interesting one.
To believe John, it’s the tragic tale of a man on the spectrum on a quest to get an autograph. “[Moose] gets confused and doesn’t understand why this guy he loves so much is mistreating him.” The trailer, it must be said, is far less heartfelt than it is 'Misery' with a mullet, leaving movie fans thrilled to see what comes next.
Supanova has a habit of bringing the big names and, sometimes, the most bafflingly awesome surprises, and this year is no exception.
Galactic Empire, the Star Wars-themed metal band you never knew you needed in your life will be bringing the epic fandom rock to the Adelaide and Brisbane events with inspired re-imaginings of the iconic Star Wars tunes, including 'The Imperial March'.
If you ever wanted to see the bad guys of the universe rocking out hard, this is a show you’re not gonna want to miss. With Boba Fett on drums, a Stormtrooper rocking the bass, a Shadow Trooper and Imperial Guard on rhythm guitar, and Darth Vader himself playing lead guitar so well you’ll choke, it’s an all new way to see the Empire rocking the galaxy.
If interstellar metal performances aren’t your thing, there’s still a massive amount of talent on hand, including the Phantom himself, Billy Zane. With the #savedaredevil campaign still making noise, it’s the perfect time for a visit from 'Hell’s Kitchen's finest, Karen Page, played by Deborah Ann Woll.
Everyone’s favourite sci-fi overachiever, Mark Sheppard, will be prowling the stage talking 'Supernatural', 'Doctor Who' and a thousand other iconic shows. With fellow Who alumni Mark Strickson, who played Vislor Turlough alongside the beloved Fifth Doctor, it’s a safe bet that the Whovians are in for a treat.
Harry Potter fans are also in luck, with both Lucius Malfoy (Jason Isaacs) and Queenie Goldstein (Alison Sudol) apparating in to talk all things magical, muggle, and fantastic.
Add in the writers, the comic book artists, the cosplayers, and the merch, and Supanova 2019 is set to be another amazing weekend of fandom.
Supanova 2019 Dates1-3 Nov - Adelaide Showground
8-10 Nov - Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre
An Evening With John Travolta 2019 DatesWed 6 Nov - The Star (Sydney)
Sun 10 Nov - Palais Theatre (Melbourne)