Douglas Thmopson - Author and International Journalist

As was this past summer's ‘Phenomenon'which was a gentle, sometimes tearful drama of an average Mr Nice Guy who is suddenly and inexplicably turned into a genius.

Travolta's ‘aw shucks, regular guy car mechanic George Malley triumphed over fear, distrust and his own seeming misfortune in the manner of Jimmy Stewart half a century ago in ‘It's A Wonderful Life'. In the Frank Capra movie it was the grey-haired, lovable Henry Travers who was the angel waiting for his wings and watching over Jimmy Stewart. He helped make it a Christmas classic.Travolta felt his character in ‘Phenomenon' was also something of an angel. It reflects today's good thoughts thinking.

Whether we all subconsciously are grasping on to angel wings as the last straw it didn't do George Malley much good in ‘Phenomenon' for he can't escape death. In the film his overnight ‘supernatural' abilities alienate his small town neighbours and intrigue and alert Government authorities. But Malley's magical personality sorts it all out and Travolta explained the message which he believes is most pertinent as this time of year when many people take stock:

‘He left no stone unturned before he left and in my own life if I knew I was going to pass away I'd love to sit down and resolve every issue so I could go peacefully. I think that was the beauty of that character -- that he could leave resolved.

‘Life was better because he existed and if I died tomorrow and I knew that life was better because I existed I could go away feeling better. The secret was being at peace with death.'

Some pondered on the Biblical overtones and shades of Scientology philosophy in ‘Phenomenon'. Travolta has been a member of the controversial Church of Scientology for twenty two years. It has,he says, helped him overcome the personal and professional troughs of his life.

He is more forthright about his involvement than other celebrity members like Tom Cruise. ‘ I've just been that way. There's nothing that I'm worried about in regards to Scientology. My experience has to do with responsibility and getting relief from situations in life that are stressful. It is about getting a sense of integrity about issues. That was was my enlightenment over it and knowing that I had a safe place to go to handle anything in life.It is a very reassuring thing.'

Advance word on ‘Michael' is also reassuring for him. Norah Ephron who guided ‘Sleepless in Seattle ' directed him in the film and picked him for the title role before his career recovery with ‘Pulp Fiction'. She says she always saw him wearing the wings:' He's totally sexual and completely innocent at the same time.

‘It's hard to think of another American actor who has that combination and who, by the way, is very, very funny.'

Travolta says he enjoyed the film even during long-haul location work in Austin , Texas , and regards ‘Michael' as a ‘pretty neat' angel:‘It's a great, funny movie. I don't particularly believe in angels -- I believe in spirits -- but not angels with big wings.I don't have a particular fix on it but it's such a hilarious movie because he is an angel with dirty wings who smokes and drinks and he's got a gut.

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