*Interviews are so much more fun and interesting when the films are extremely entertaining. This was the case when the cast and filmmakers came to town last week to promote “From Paris With Love.” John Travolta is not only off the hook in this movie, but sings a refrain from “Me and Mrs. Jones,” made popular by Billy Paul.
The Film Strip not only queried Travolta and Jonathan Rhys-Meyers about their new film, but Travolta’s trip to Haiti. In addition to sending a plane full of supplies on his jet, he piloted his plane filled with doctors, food and medical supplies.
DO YOU PLAN TO GO BACK TO HAITI?
JOHN TRAVOLTA: Oh, yes. In a nutshell what happened in Haiti was that I had the privilege to fly my big Boeing down because it was sitting there empty and I felt a duty and a responsibility to fill it with doctors and fill it with supplies and food and medicine. The cool thing that I found was that when we arrived we unloaded seven tons of supplies and I promised the doctors on board that the supplies we brought would stay with them because they could so easily get lost at the airport. The good news–I got full reports-is that the supplies did stay with them. They were very successful and saved hundreds of lives.. I sent down a plane the week before, as well. So it’s been a good and satisfying feeling, as well as a privilege.
HOW DID YOU PREPARE FOR THE ROLE OF CHARLIE WAS?
JT: I hung out with some undercover guys in my hometown. They were kind enough to let me hangout with them. So I would spend the nights driving the streets of Ocala and going into these different areas that were in trouble and seeing what these guys do. It was like a microcosm of where it is all over the world.
THERE WAS SO MUCH CHEMISTRY GOING ON BETWEEN YOU AND JOHN, JONATHAN. DID YOU TWO ADLIB AT ALL?
JONATHASN RHYS-MEYERS: No, it was pretty much there in the script but we were also playing in a film where I’m playing an American guy in Paris. So if I didn’t have someone like John there, I’m not quite sure it would have worked for me because I had to have a true American. I had to have somebody there that I could play off and that was a happy accident. Pierre Morel (Director) and Luc Besson (Story) came to London and they said, ‘John is going to do this movie and we think your chemistry is going to be fantastic.’ But of course I was shooting ‘The Tudors’ on a Tuesday and arrived in Paris to shoot the movie on Wednesday. So the first time I saw John and we got some face time together was onscreen in that scene where I go in and I bust him out of the Customs office. So that’s an extraordinary reaction. I’ve seen John in many films but I haven’t seen John like that. So I didn’t know what to expect, and of course James Reece’s character, he expects a sophisticated, elegant, worldly James Bond to turn up. What he gets is he gets a biker boy minus the Harley Davidson.
DO YOU WANT THE AUDIENCE TO TAKE AWAY A CERTAIN MESSAGE BECAUSE IT SAYS SO MUCH ABOUT BLIND FAITH AND THE TERROIST THREATS WE FACE EVERYDAY WHETHER THEY BE AT THE AIRPORT OR ON A PLANE?
JT: Oddly enough, I said this to Luc when the movie was over, I said, ‘Strangely enough this is the most authentic movie about terrorism that’s ever been made because in a very light way we’re not making a statement or giving a message.’ There’s a truth there, a veiled thing that says, ‘Wow, this is really the crux of it.’ It’s about misguided religion and misguided concepts and how things work in that terrorist world, and yet we’re having fun disguising it almost.
JR-M: On blind faith, it beats out love. I’m willing to ignore a lot of things because of love…[It] shows you just how strong it is whether it’s a love for a religion or a love for a human being. At the same time, when I read this script I thought, ‘It has cocaine. It has terrorism.’ Now these things are only used to fuel the action because if you don’t give that subject it’s due then you’re in trouble. If you’re going to make a film about terrorists you make a film about terrorism and you make sure that you concentrate on it and you give it it’s time. For us this was definitely about the relationships in the film because, look, I made a film about war in China a few years ago called ‘The Children of Huang Shi’ and what was extraordinary is that everything that’s encompassed by war – terrorism – and all these horrible things that exist in our world today come down to very, very small human choices.
JT: Did I tell you how smart he is? [laughs].
After the interview, I rushed next door to the Le Parker Meridien Hotel for the Shutter Island junket. While waiting for the elevator, Travolta shows up and asks me where I was going. I told him and asked him if he was trying to tell us something with his trigger-happy roles, was there a dark side to this happy, go lucky guy? With a big grin he says, “No. I just think these roles are fun.” Pick up videos “Face/Of,” “Swordfish” and “The Punisher” to see John at his villainy best. Also, pick up Morel’s “Taken” video because it was one of the best films released last year.