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Travolta Back In 'Basic'

John Travolta, who won Oscar nominations for his portrayals of a disco king and a gangland thug, is back on the big screen as a rogue DEA agent.

This time, he reunites with his old friend, Samuel L. Jackson, in the action thriller "Basic." Both he and Jackson played hired guns in the movie "Pulp Fiction."

John Travolta visited The Early Show to talk about his new movie, a military film that is being released while the nation is at war.

His new film opened last Friday, more than a week into operation Iraqi Freedom. The military-themed movie is a fictional account of crime and intrigue on a Marine base.

"Basic" tells the story of one of the most elite commando squads in the U.S., which goes missing in the Panama Canal Zone under a legendary commander (Samuel L. Jackson). Rogue DEA agent Tom Hardy (John Travolta) investigates the disappearance, but, as in all mysteries, nothing is as it seems.

There are only two survivors from the group, and they both give very conflicting views of what happened in the field during a hurricane in the jungle.

As in many of Travolta's films, he finds a way to bring out the humor in his character for "Basic."

"I love any character that adds a layer of humor, even in a drama like this," says Travolta. "The joy I had in some of those early lines were awesome."

Travolta was also able to work again with Jackson.

"It's always easy to be reunited with Sam," he says. "We're so effortless together. We just have a chemistry that we don't work at. And it's the same way on screen and the same way off screen."

Like his friend Jackson, Travolta has made numerous movies throughout his career. He even gained a couple of Oscar nominations — Travolta was nominated for Best Actor in "Saturday Night Fever" and "Pulp Fiction." But the actor has yet to win an Academy Award.

However, he says he isn't disappointed because his parents were able to keep his life in perspective for him.

"They both had such cool things to say when I didn't win it," says Travolta. "Mom said, 'Great.' And I said, "Why did Mom say great?" [My dad] said, "Because she wanted something for you to look forward to."

However, Travolta says, nominations are nice because they can help him gain more work in future movie projects.

He does make it a a point to achnowledge that his achievements are a result of the talent of others.

"And I look forward to whatever those brilliant people have out there next."

Some Facts About John Travolta

  • John Travolta was born on Feb. 18, 1954, in Englewood, N.J.
  • In 1975, John Travolta first gained fame as Vinnie Barbarino on the television series "Welcome Back, Kotter"
  • Travolta made a Billboard top 10 single in 1976 with the song "Let Her In"
  • Also 1976, Travolta played a teen in the Brian De Palma thriller "Carrie"
  • In 1977, he made his Oscar nominated appearance in the disco-drama "Saturday Night Fever"
  • In 1978, Travolta made "Moment By Moment" with Lily Tomlin, but he was able to rebound from that lackluster movie with "Grease" starring Olivia Newton-John
  • In 1980, Travolta made "Urban Cowboy"
  • In 1981, Travolta starred in De Palma's "Blow Out" — playing a dedicated film sound recordist who accidentally records a political assassination
  • In 1989, Travolta starred in the sleeper hit "Look Who's Talking"
  • In 1994, the actor's good reviews for his performance in Quentin Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction" restored Travolta to Hollywood's A-list
  • Travolta made the best of his comeback with vehicles that slowly earned him commanding salaries only associated with mega-stars. He starred in 1995's "Get Shorty" and "White Man's Burden". He followed with John Woo's action-adventure thriller "Broken Arrow" in 1996 and "Phenomenon"; in 1997 he starred in "Face/Off," "Mad City," and "She's So Lovely". In 1998, he gave a Bill Clinton-like performance in "Primary Colors," starred as a lawyer in "A Civil Action," and made a cameo in "The Thin Red Line"; in 2000 he appeared in the unsuccessful alien movie "Battlefield Earth" and the action thriller "Swordfish"