John Travolta‘s performance in this year’s American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson earned him an Emmy nomination — but as it turns out, he only agreed to the role after some (very famous) prodding.
In a new interview with GQ, the actor revealed the mysterious panel of advisors that encouraged him to take on the role of O.J. Simpson‘s attorney Robert Schapiro in the hit FX series, which chronicled the notorious 1994 murder trial of Nicole Brown Simpson.
According to Travolta, 62, he wrestled over whether to join the cast for four months and only decided to accept it after extended conversations with some serious Hollywood heavyweights. So who might those be?
“They all thought it was completely the right move,” he said, adding that Spielberg and Eisner were “the most enthusiastic.”
Travolta, who has made 50-something movies over the span of his career and has been nominated for two Oscars, said the newfound TV fame was still special.
“You have these points in your career when you are associated with high quality, with depth, communication, and things that matter on a social level,” he said. “And when you hit those notes — whether it be Primary Colors, or on the cover of Time magazine, or Pulp Fiction, or Saturday Night Fever, or Urban Cowboy — where you’re affecting the society on a global level, then you feel a different kind of pride. It’s beyond the pride of success. It’s the pride of … integrity, I guess? You’re not always guaranteed to be involved with projects that will hit those notes. When you are, you really do register it.”
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When asked whether he finds it challenging to balance pride in the project knowing that it sprang from a brutal double homicide, Travolta said the fact that the show was educational made it worth it.
“This is a powerful, tragic, true, yet entertaining program, which is a very unusual combination,” he said. “But … it’s magnetic in the level of quality that it was done. It’s a deﬁnition of entertainment that’s quite different from, you know, Grease. It helps that perhaps it creates understanding in other people.”
“When you understand the broken legal system, you can’t help but get enlightened,” he added. “And then it becomes worth it to tell the tragic story. If you’re doing it for the glee of that, it’s off-putting. But I believe that we thought we would enlighten and create some level of understanding. And there’s been empirical situations where that’s happened.”