Old School Americana & Nostalgia


John Travolta Once Lost This Career-Changing Role to Richard Gere

John Travolta Once Lost This Career-Changing Role to Richard Gere

Although he has had many successes in his acting career, there is one role John Travolta missed out on that could have been career-changing.

According to The Things, Travolta missed out on playing Richard Gere’s role as Julian Kaye in American Gigolo. The actor notably had to drop out of the production due to grieving the loss of his mother. Gere stepped in and took Travolta’s place in the film.

American Gigolo ended up grossing $52.7 million on a $5 million production budget. This wasn’t the only project that Travolta ended up passing on. He was up for the role of Zack Mayo in An Officer and a Gentleman. That film ended up receiving six Academy Award nominations and won two. 

Despite missing out on both An Officer and a Gentleman and American Gigolo, John Travolta received his next big break with Pulp Fiction. That film scored more than $213.9 million at the box office on a $8-$8.5 million budget. The film was up for numerous Oscars and won Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly For the Screen.

John Travolta Reveals How He Ended Up Starring in ‘Pulp Fiction’ 

According to the New Zealand Herald, John Travolta revealed the one request from Quentin Tarantino that led to him starring in Pulp Fiction. 

While speaking to a crowd at Supanova Comic Con & Gaming event in 2019, Travolta said Tarantino had the most random request when they first met. “All [Tarantino] wanted to do was spend the evening playing board games of my old movies,” the actor explained. “For instance, we played the Grease board game, we played the Saturday Night Fever board game, we played the Welcome Back, Kotter board game. He just had this fantasy of being with his favorite actor and playing the board games from the actor’s movies.” 

However, John Travolta did point out that Tarantino had another request. “He said, ‘If you could possibly become one of those characters out of nowhere, just say a line from Grease, Saturday Night Fever, or Kotter, that would make him happy,’ so I would do that.” 

After Travolta impressed him, Tarantino offered the actor two films that he was working on. “One was From Dusk Till Dawn then he offered me Pulp Fiction. And he said, ‘You didn’t react so much to the vampire movie but you liked the other movie better. Why?’ I said, ‘I’m not a big vampire person, not that it’s not a great story, it’s just that I liked the Vincent Vega story better.’ He said, ‘Oh, interesting.’”

Travolta went on to add that Tarantino had already cast Michael Madsen in Pulp Fiction in his mind, but the actor was able to change his mind. “He decided to give me that role and offered it to me on the spot.”