The Oscar-nominated actor tells The Hollywood Reporter that he’s game for the second season of the Ryan Murphy-run FX miniseries, which will center on Hurricane Katrina. “I told them I was interested and that it was up to them,” he told THR at a screening of the The People v O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story finale in downtown Los Angeles on Monday night. “I don’t think they expected that I would say that, but because [Katrina] comes close to home, I felt that way.”
With his actress wife Kelly Preston by his side, Travolta went on to explain just how important the subject matter is to him. “I’m very interested in the Katrina story because Kelly and I were actually a part of that in real life. We went with a plane-load of medics and supplies and went deep into the parishes to help people, so I have a personal feeling about that. It touches me deeply,” he said.
Travolta even has a scene in mind for the writers, inspired by his own experience aiding Katrina victims. “These men had lost their families and lost their homes, and yet they were still looking for [other] survivors because no one had arrived at the scene yet. Then this big brute of a guy looked at me and started sobbing. He held me and I held him, and I didn’t even know him,” he remembered. “It was because I was a familiar face, and in this chaos it was the first sign of help. If I had arrived there, it meant that help was on its way. So I love that moment. I don’t know what they’re going to write, but that moment alone is equivalent in this last episode to when Darden hugs the Goldman family. It’s that kind of thing, and at some point that has to happen.”
Cuba Gooding Jr., for his part, seems equally interested in re-teaming with Murphy down the road. “I have an immense interest in working with Ryan Murphy again, so if he calls me for something, you know my phone will be on,” he said when asked about a potential role in season two.
According to the series’ producing director, Anthony Hemingway, who helmed five episodes of O.J., the writers room was recently assembled for the upcoming season. While he was mum on specifics, Hemingway — who was also a director and producer on HBO’s post-Katrina drama Treme — did offer a taste of what to expect in the second installment.
“Treme was a different part of the story in that it highlighted the people of that city coming home and trying to revive life, and I think American Crime Story will really focus on the beginning of that and the awful crime and tragedy that happened when it first started,” he said. “I think it will have as much of an impact and be as effective as O.J., but untraditionally. There are so many crimes that are committed that aren’t in the courtroom.”
In February, FX chief John Landgraf told THR that even though Hurricane Katrina may not be a clear-cut court case, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a crime worth exploring. “It’s not a singular crime in the way that there was a murder or two murders in O.J., but there were a series of pretty serious crimes that took place in and around Katrina,” he said. “Part of what Ryan [Murphy], Nina [Jacobson] and Brad [Simpson] want do with this franchise is use these extraordinarily compelling and entertaining stories to delve into what lies beneath the surface of crime and of our society.”
Landgraf added: “To me, Katrina is really an interesting decision in that regard. It’s a big, epic story. On one level, it’s a disaster story with all the sort of human scale and tragedy and interest that any story might have, but then inside it there are all these other fascinating sub-stories. Why were the levees flawed? How did they get that way? Why were there hospitals where life support systems were being turned off? How did a bunch of people end up inside the Superdome, essentially living here in squalid conditions?”