Forty Years After ‘Grease,’ Travolta’s Back in Cannes

Fans of the high school musical Grease are in for a treat if they can make it to the French Riviera this week.

The movie will be screened on the beach Wednesday to celebrate its 40th anniversary. And fans might get a glimpse of its star, John Travolta, who is back in Cannes promoting his new film, Gotti, about a New York gangster.

In 1978, Travolta, already a global sensation thanks to Saturday Night Fever, came to the Cannes Film Festival to promote Grease, a huge hit that also made him a music star with songs from the soundtrack dominating the charts.

“The mid-point was Pulp Fiction, so it was 40 year, 20 year and now today,” Travolta reminisced.

“My mother always told me when I was younger: ‘Don’t rush things, it’s going to go very fast’, and boom, here I am,” he told Reuters.

“I’ve lived a long life, but it has really gone fast.”

Cult crime flick Pulp Fiction won Cannes’ Palme d’Or top prize in 1994, giving a second wind to Travolta’s career.

In his new film, Travolta plays John Gotti, a gangster boss who died in 2002. Travolta’s wife, Kelly Preston, co-stars as Gotti’s wife and the mother of their son who refuses to follow his father into the mob.

“He is very different from what I am and who I am and how I think and my values,” Travolta said of playing the gangster.

“It’s a completely different person — that’s something fun to play.”

Getting the film made, he said, was far less fun: “The challenges kept on knocking us down — different directors, different casts, different scripts — one was too shoot-’em-up, one was too family,” he said.

“People like challenges and I was willing to stay with it ’til we saw it through.”

The Cannes Film Festival runs until May 19.