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John Travolta Says He Passed On Denzel Washington’s Role In ‘Flight’ Because Parts Were ‘Silly’

John Travolta Says He Passed On Denzel Washington's Role In 'Flight' Because Parts Were 'Silly'

Speaking at a British Film Institute event in London on Tuesday night, John Travolta revealed that the lead character in the script for Flight (which Denzel Washington starred in) was written for him, but he turned down the part eventually, after he read the script, saying that he didn’t approve of certain scenes, calling them silly.

“The funny thing was it was written for me. But it was not written well enough yet — the plane stuff, not the character… I loved that he was an alcoholic and I loved his journey a lot. But the plane stuff was silly, from my perspective. Flying upside down — it’s a bit much. I just wanted those bits to get redone. I asked the writer, ‘Did you not ask a professional or someone who knew something?’ And he said, ‘I didn’t want any interference — I just wanted the screenplay done. To hell with that stuff!'”

By the way, Travolta is a professional pilot, so I suppose he would have a bit more insight into the technicals. 

But it is the movies, right – suspension of disbelief and all that.

Although I doubt Denzel Washington is losing any sleep over that, since he received an Academy Award Best Actor nomination for his portrayal of the character, and several other honors.

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Many holes?

Could you expound on the "many holes"?


I agree with him. After the plane went down Flight took a complete nosedive. I really don't care how people praise Denzel's performance their were to many holes in the overall plot for it to be considered a great movie. And yes, I would say many of the scenes in flight were indeed silly and might I add pure comedy.

Miles Ellison

The man who was responsible for Battlefield Earth and co-starred in Moment By Moment (two of the worst films ever made) is lecturing people about silly? He needs to put down the rocks and sell the glass house.


Funny. Don't remember Robert Zemeckis mentioning this at all when I saw him at the NYFF last year. I heard Denzel was always the front runner.


Travolta would be to busy "padding" his 'co-pilots" be interested in any straight up acting.


You're right. On Battlefield Earth, they hired a professional consultant to give feedback on how real the bullshit should be.


Interesting that the man who believes in Scientology calls a movie "silly".

This is akin to Mitt Romney saying, "You know, I never really wanted to be president anyway."


Having recently seen FLIGHT, I absolutely felt it was deserving of a Best Picture nomination. This movie could have easily been a conventional tale of a fallen and flawed hero's quest for redemption, but Denzel Washington in his performance, and Robert Zemeckis in his direction, went somewhere left of that, and gave the character and story a depth I appreciated.

–But I have never understood, why some actors feel compelled to speak out after a film like FLIGHT has done well, receiving critical accolades, noted awards+box office success, and then throw salt on their acting peers who got the roles they ultimately passed on, and communicate to the movie-going public, "Y'all know that part was mines', right? Can you imagine how I woulda done it?"




to me, this is like when DRUMLINE came out, and people who was in the band at hbcu's were like "see, it don't even go like that" Get your extra technical even though its a movie, face outta here Travolta…


Travolta passed on MANY roles that built Richard Gere's career: American Gigolo, An Officer and a Gentleman, Days of Heaven, Chicago. He also turned down Tom Hanks winners Splash, Forest Gump, and The Green Mile. He's passed on a lot of roles.


"Travolta is a professional pilot, so I suppose he would have a bit more insight into the technicals"

That's interesting but I doubt the average person has any idea about the maneuverability of MD-88s, which the movie's plane most resembles, so suspending belief is not really an issue. In fact, a commercial plane such as the one in the movie, can turn upside down, but not for very long.

But there was a scene that was quite silly. Well, maybe not silly for some (because they just don't know) but the scene in which Denzel snorts cocaine to overcome his excessive night of drinking, is a bit out of wack. I mean, those who have consumed cocaine knows the only thing one can do on cocaine is do more cocaine. In fact, although it can be used as an aphrodisiac, in many cases it leaves the man unable to perform (horny as hell but his johnson may not cooperate). Anyway, in the movie, after Denzel killed all the liquor in the hotel room, in the morning he was still totally messed up. Okay, that's cool, that's what alcohol does, but snorting cocaine would not give one the composure Denzel exhibited. NO WAY, he would have been a drunk-nervous-jittery-wreck.

But as ALM and Dwanka implied, I am glad Travolta didn't take the part because Denzel went places I know Johnny can't go.


That's just fine, because Denzel slayed the role.

Dankwa Brooks

This is the movies. Something spectacular has to happen in a theatrical motion picture. I wasn't all that interested in the trailer UNTIL that scene of the inverted plane.

Plus plane crashes have been caught on film numerous times and one of the best in motion picture history was done by Zemeckis himself in Castaway. Gotta up the ante.


What was silly was him passing on the project that got an actor an Academy Award in favor of some the SILLY roles he's accepted -That was Silly!

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