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April 2004
The Punisher: An Interview with John Travolta

By Alberlynne “Abby” Harris

The Punisher: An Interview with John Travolta

Truly versatile actor in the world of film and television, John Travolta delivers a dynamic performance as the comic book villain, Howard Saint. Blackfilm.com sat with John to discuss his role and gain some insight into his creativity and work ethic in continuing to give audiences such luminous characters.

You are such a likeable guy, but you play such awesome villains. Tell us about that.

JT: I have a theory on that. Bad guys don't always think that they are bad. They don't really think in terms of good and evil.

In your career, you have played so many different characters. How did you approach this villainous character Howard Saint?

JT: Other actors are playing things over the top, so I felt I needed to make this a bit over the top. But then when I saw that they were trying to make it more of a drama, kind of like Scorsese, I figured I do something more of a blue-blood wanna be; like a bad funny guy. My character behaves as though he is just the head of an advertising agency on 5th avenue with the integrity and demeanor of a guy who is decent. In the underbelly, there is all this bad stuff: Drug money, weaponry. That's his cover-up. So he's just a blue-blood, he is imitating a good guy.

Were you familiar with the comic book series before taking on the role?

JT: I was not that familiar but my son and his friends love it. I had seen it around, so when I saw the script, I said oh that's the big one; that's The Punisher.

Jonathan Hensleigh is known best as a screenwriter for blockbusters such as The Rock, Armageddon, and Die Hard: With a Vengeance. What was it like working with him as a first-time director?

JT: Usually I am concerned, but when Jonathan told me his ideas and shared his vision, I was on board. He liked a lot of the ideas I came to the table with. He had actually worked with Nicholas Cage before. Nick and I work very similar. We try to think outside the box, but we also come with alternate ideas.

We've been told that you generally do a lot of preparation before your roles. Can you tell us what that entails?

JT: I come prepared, but I also come unprepared. If you come too prepared, then you don't leave room for anyone else's ideas. So you have to come prepared enough with a performance that you like. You have to leave the room for the caveats to alter that performance without you being too upset. Its actually a tricky thing. But sometimes I come adamant. I'll say, "This just does not work for me." I'll present my ideas and if they do not like the ideas, then that's fine. You'll just have to come up with a replacement. He just

How is Be Cool with F. Gary Gray progressing?

JT: We are almost done. We have like two more weeks of filming left. It's been an interesting shot. We have all of these amazing people in it. You guys are going to love The Rock in it. We have some great scenes together.

Did you do our own stunts?

JT: I generally don't have an ego when it comes to doing my own stunts. Buts usually, to pull these movies off right, you need to do your own stunts for the audience's sake, to make it look real. It was beautifully executed.

Thank you.

JT: Thank you.

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