Cast Interview - John Travolta
John Travolta — the box office heavyweight with two Oscar® nominations and a slew of memorable films to his credit—is now going to the dogs. Or rather, playing a dog. But not just any canine…this pup is named Bolt, and he stars in his own action-adventure television series. Trouble is, he’s been taught to believe that the super powers he possesses onscreen (all the result of studio magic) are really his. So, when he inadvertently gets shipped to New York—a place about as real as the real world gets—he begins a long journey home, to find both his beloved owner, Penny, and himself. What is a super hero without his super powers anyway? Travolta sat down recently to talk about the Walt Disney Animation Studios film BOLT.
Q: What was it about BOLT that made you want to voice your first-ever animated character?
JOHN TRAVOLTA: I waited a long time to say yes to an animated feature, because even though a lot of my friends were doing brilliant work—Robin Williams in “Aladdin” and Tom Hanks in “Toy Story”—I just didn’t feel that the right one had been offered to me yet. There had been other characters, but they weren’t quite ‘the classic’ thing—and I wanted to wait for the classic, and I felt BOLT had the potential to be a classic, when I heard about it and read some pages. I thought they were on to something, plus it was very important to Disney that it be a good animated feature. It had the heart and the humor that I needed and wanted.
Q: Did it help that it was a family film with a Disney pedigree?
JOHN TRAVOLTA: Being a Disney pedigree helped a lot, because you have an ‘insurance policy’ of quality there. And that matters a ton to me.
Q: Could you describe the character of Bolt?
JOHN TRAVOLTA: Bolt is kind of a naïve, earnest, strong-willed, guileless character—also loyal, he loves his owner, Penny. He doesn’t realize he’s on a television series. He thinks that’s life. And when he accidently gets shipped to New York, he tries to use all of his super powers and he realizes they don’t exist and that he’s just a dog. And that starts his transformation.
Q: How was it working with the directors, Chris Williams and Byron Howard?
JOHN TRAVOLTA: They’re both so fresh, and really desirous of wanting to make a great feature—part of that Disney ‘insurance policy’ was having them onboard, really.
Q: And John Lasseter?
JOHN TRAVOLTA: Same thing—knowing that there is a desire for greatness there.
Q: What kind of message do you think BOLT sends?
JOHN TRAVOLTA: This movie covers a lot of bases as far as messages are concerned: It’s okay to be loyal. It’s okay to be earnest. And it’s okay to have a heart—and all the while being entertained with humor. That’s all part of the message.
Q: Was the process of making an animated feature what you thought it would be?
JOHN TRAVOLTA: It was better than I thought it would be. You lead the way—you design the character, in a way. You are directed, there’s no doubt about that, but you get to design it, because the animators draw on your vocal qualities for the character’s expressions. I didn’t know it was that way. I didn’t know how limiting it could or would be, but it wasn’t. It was kind of like, ‘I’ll do five versions that you like as a director, and I’ll do five versions that I like.’ You mix and match it, and they get the best of all possible worlds, and then they put illusions to it. It’s wonderful.
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