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John Travolta has opened up about a conversation he had about dying and the passing of his wife and fellow actor Kelly Preston with his younger child, Ben.
During a recent episode of Kevin Hart’s Peacock series Hart to Heart, the comedian and actor sat down with John Travolta for a wide-ranging conversation about his early career going from New York to Los Angeles, being a pilot, his love of comedy acting and why he was never into drugs or partying. During the talk, the actor touched on two deeply personal subjects — the passing of his wife Kelly Preston and son Jett, and his relationship to Scientology.
When talking to Hart about his children, Travolta recounted a conversation he had with his son, Benjamin, after the 10-year-old asked him about aging while the two were walking through their neighborhood one late night. That brought Travolta to a separate conversation he’d had with Ben, who once told him “because mom passed away I’m afraid you’re going to.”
“I said, ‘Well it’s a very different thing.’ And then I went through the differences about my longevity and in her limited life,” Travolta said.
That’s when the Pulp Fiction and Die Hart actor said he broached the uncertainty of death with his child, acknowledging the family’s loss of both Preston, who passed in 2020 after living two years with breast cancer, and the couple’s eldest child, Jett, who died following a seizure in 2009, before explaining that people just try to do their best to live however long they can.
“Nobody knows when they’re going to go or when they’re going to stay. I said, ‘Your brother left at 16 — too young. Your mother left at 57. That was too young. But who’s to say?’ I said I could die tomorrow. You could. Anybody can,” he said. “So let’s look at life, that [death is] part of life. You see, you don’t know exactly. You just do your best at trying to live the longest you can.”
Earlier in the hour-long conversation, Hart asks how Travolta handled being a highly sought-after talent in Hollywood with the temptations of partying and drugs in the ’80s, with the actor pointing to both the hurdles drugs created in his study of acting as well as his relationship to Scientology as the key reason he stayed focused.
After sharing that he was introduced to the church by an actress while working on the 1975 film The Devil’s Rain, Travolta said “at that moment it worked for me and it still works for me.”
When Hart broached media coverage of Travolta as a member of Scientology, the actor said that being unedited and overt about what he’s doing has kept him from getting “attacked.”
“This is what I’ve discovered. When you’re unabashed about what you do, you don’t get attacked,” he said. “I felt like it saved my life. Why would I want to hide that? You know, why would I inhibit what made me feel better about living? And why would I want to inhibit the tools that that subject matter gave me to live a better life?”
He added, “I think that I got attacked less because I had nothing on it. I didn’t — I wasn’t trying to hide it. If anything, I was probably more attacked at times for trying to promote it.”
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