When John Travolta was growing up in the tree-lined suburbs of New Jersey all his hopes were in the sky. He would watch the traffic climb up out of New York 's La Guardia airport and conjure up stories about the passengers and crew: who they were, where they were going, what they would find on arrival.
Some of his friends had become baggage handlers at the airport but he had no wish for life on that sort of carousel. He wanted to be up there in the clouds travelling with his ideas and ambition.
‘The path of the airport was such that they went over New Jersey if they were going west ( California and Hollywood , that is). They were two thousand feet above the ground, struggling up, with full loads, DC-6s, DC-7s. I'd have dreams about the people in them, people who were going places.
‘It was a very romantic vision to me.I watched the jet age come through from my own backyard.
‘When my sister Ellen started travelling I'd go with my parents to the airport to see her off. I was about five years olden those days watching ‘planes take off and land was a kind of entertainment. Families dressed up for the occasion including mine. It was a glamorous and wonderful ritual.'
Just like Hollywood and the movies which he once again dominates as the 20th century marches to a conclusion. He will be 43 in February. He has earned his wings as a licensed pilot of prop ‘planes, jets and now, more fantastically, as an angel.
He continues his remarkable return to popularity --the most dramatic comeback since Lazarus -- with the opening in America this Christmas of the $60 million ‘Michael'. He has the title role as an angel with dirty wings and a mouth to match. He is a New Age hero and Travolta laughs:
‘This was an opportunity I couldn't refuse. It was as if someone was pointing down to me from the Heavens!
‘Seriously, it is a wonderful story and a marvellous change of pace for me. I've learned that you must keep surprising audiences and it is good for me as a performer to keep dealing with different subjects. And playing an angel is most certainly different. Particularly this angel.'
Travolta came back to professional life in a burst of profanity and bullets in ‘Pulp Fiction' and since then he has been building, movie by movie, a protective wall around his career. He wants to be in control, to dictate and be the only master of his future. Which is why he has the pulse of all things heavenly.
After heis memorable turn as the smacked-out hit man for Quentin Tarantino he was seen in ‘Get Shorty' and then as the bad guy in the nuclear thriller ‘Broken Arrow'. ‘Michael', he says, was the perfect follow-on.