John Travolta on How His Latest Role Fits Into His Iconic Career

Travolta plays lawyer Robert Shapiro in "The People v. O.J. Simpson."

February 19, 2016, 10:53 PM
VIDEO: John Travolta on How His Latest Role Fits Into His Iconic Career
VIDEO: John Travolta on How His Latest Role Fits Into His Iconic Career

— -- John Travolta is scoring big time with critics and audiences right now playing lawyer Robert Shapiro in the smash FX series, "The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story."

It's his first return to television since his 1970s series "Welcome Back, Kotter," and fans are taking note. Travolta told ABC News it took four months for him to decide to take on the TV role.

"But I did the same thing with 'Pulp Fiction,'" Travolta told ABC News. "I took four months to decide to do that. Two of the best things I've done in my career took the longest to do, but maybe there's a reason for that. I don't know."

Coincidentally, "Pulp Fiction," which is one of Travolta's most well-known films, came out while Simpson trial was happening.

"And what a dichotomy, what a duality for me, because here's this American tragedy happening and at the same time I'm having a re-birth in my career," said Travolta. "Thank God for my father who was a football player who was obsessed with the case. He kept me informed and in touch with reality."

Travolta, 62, told Peter Travers, he wanted to make certain the audience would connect with him as Shapiro. He radically changed his appearance (those Spock eyebrows) and dug deep to make the character believable.

"I didn't want them to be looking at me as something they're very familiar with. I wanted them to be familiar with the character. So in this particular case, looking like Shapiro was important to me," said Travolta. "I wanted to become him enough that you were not distracted by anything else."

Travolta has successfully transformed himself many times before in his now iconic roles.

"I've always felt that I've had the opportunity to show the audience what I can do as an actor because I've been given characters that challenge me over and over again," he said. "If you had said to me, would you imagine yourself playing a president? Would you imagine yourself playing a lawyer? Would you imagine yourself playing a woman? Would you imagine yourself playing a hit man? Would you imagine yourself playing an admiral in 'The Thin Red Line'? None of those I could have imagined myself playing. But the gift of writers and the gift of studios that trusted that if i did it well enough that the audience would follow, has really been the gift of my career."

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