My Favorite John Travolta Performances


He started out as the breakaway star of a mediocre sitcom and rose to major stardom, fell seriously after a few cinematic stinkos, but got right back up and reinvented himself into a viable box office champion again. The following are my favorite John Travolta performances:


Tod Lubitch, The Boy in the Plastic Bubble

Ok, it was a TV movie, but I'm counting it because Travolta made one of his first serious impressions as an actor after Welcome Back Kotter. He plays a teenager who because of a breakdown in his immune systems, must live inside a special plastic environment who finds romance with a new neighbor (Glynnis O'Connor). Though O'Connor played his girlfriend here, love did blossom between Travolta and Diana Hyland, who played his mother in this movie, a relationship that endured until Hyland's tragic death.


Major Vic Deakins, Broken Arrow

The beginning of Travolta's career renaissance as the slightly demented action hero that would become a marketable part of his resume.

I like Broken Arrow. Probably a lot more than I should.
I am exactly the perfect level of dismissive of Broken Arrow.
"Film is a disease. When it infects your bloodstream it takes over as the number one hormone. It bosses the enzymes, directs the pineal gland, plays Iago to your psyche. As with heroin, the antidote to Film is more Film." - Frank Capra


Billy Nolan, Carrie

Travolta had a brief but memorable role in this 1976 horror classic as the empty-headed boyfriend of the bitchy Chris Hargensen (Nancy Allen) and her number one conspirator in her plan to torture Carrie White (Sissy Spacek).


Bobby Long, A Love Song for Bobby Long

The film may play like bad Tennessee Williams, but Travolta's first serious foray into character acting hit the bullseye as an alcoholic former college professor who tries to keep his romantic past with a woman from her grown daughter (Scarlett Johannsen).


Woody Stevens, Wild Hogs

Again, not a great movie, but Travolta appears to really be enjoying a role that actually allowed him to play his actual age...he plays a biker wannabe who goes on a memorable road trip with three other biker wannabes (Tim Allen, Martin Lawrence, William H. Macy).


Gabriel Shear, Swordfish

Travolta hams it up as a criminal mastermind who blackmails a former computer hacker (Hugh Jackman) into assisting with his latest scheme by kidnapping his daughter (Camryn Grimes).


James, Look Who's Talking

Travolta has always publicly acknowledged director Amy Heckerling for casting him in the 1989 comedy that initiated his career renaissance...Travolta plays James, a cabbie who becomes involved with a single mom (Kirstie Alley) and has an instant connection with her infant son (voiced by Bruce Willis).

I think I'm going to be putting this list on hold for a bit as there a couple of Travolta films I have not seen that I think I need to before completing this list, so I indulge your patience.

Nice list, so far!

I loved him in Look Who's Talking and Wild Hogs. He was cool in Carrie, in a bad despicable way, of course

I look forward to seeing his performance as Vincent Vega and Tony Manero in your top 2.

I don't know how many others do but I thoroughly enjoy Wild Hogs lol
Lol I think my friends and I were really the only ones who enjoyed Wild Hogs in the theater room. It's one of those guilty pleasures for me.

I watched A Civil Action yesterday and I am almost done with Urban Cowboy. I would also like to watch Primary Colors before completing this list but have been having difficulty finding a website where I can watch it for free. If I can't find one before the weekend is out, I will continue the countdown regardless and, for the record, both of the above mentioned films will be making the countdown.


Jack Stanton, Primary Colors

With the aid of director Mike Nichols, Travolta lights up the screen in this thinly disguised tale of Bill Clinton and his first presidential run where he finds himself trying to stay ahead of the sexual skeletons in his closet.


Edna Turnblad, Hairspray

With the aid of a first rate makeup team, Travolta effectively transformed himself into the introverted mother of a teenage girl (Nikki Blonsky) who unwittingly becomes a symbol of the 1960's Civil Rights movement in this musical version of a film by John Walters.


Jan Schlichtman, A Civil Action

Travolta was solid in this fact-based drama as an ambulance chaser who found himself in the middle of a class action suit that put his reputation and his entire firm on the line.


George Malley, Phenomenon

Travolta is charming as a small town nobody whose life is changed forever when he is struck by lightening and turned into a genius.