John Travolta is nothing if not a stickler for unflinching factual accuracy in all aspects of his life, be they the roles he executes on the screen, or the actions he undertakes as a heterosexual man with a lush head of natural hair, who uses his faith in the alien-based religion drafted by a science-fiction writer to heal the victims of car crashes with his mind. As such, John Travolta has no time for silliness—particularly when that silliness involves the piloting of planes, a passion Travolta pursues in his spare, non-acting time and takes equally seriously, to the point that he will flatly turn down starring roles in Oscar-nominated films if there’s even a hint of it. “Sorry, but this all just seems really silly to me,” is a thing that John Travolta will say very regularly, when it involves movies about planes.
Such was the case with the part that eventually went to Denzel Washington in Flight, which Travolta recently asserted to the British Film Institute “was written for me,” during one of the many times he was not being silly. Still, Travolta said, he couldn’t accept it—not because of the whole bleak, drunk-guy-on-a-bender angle (“I loved that he was an alcoholic”), but due to its unmitigated case of “plane stuff.” Silly plane stuff.
“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!'"
Of course, screenwriter John Gatins has said in previous interviews that he did ask professionals or someone who knew something, including one pilot who referred him to an actual crash in Oxnard, CA in 2000 where the plane did, in fact, fly upside down. But for whatever reason, that day Gatins apparently just insisted on being silly, as well as strangely hostile. And so the project was left with Denzel Washington, and Travolta returned to the restrained realism of movies where he swaps faces with Nicolas Cage or hangs out with talking babies, and the planes always fly upright. [via Filmdrunk]