Leading Scientologist told John Travolta not to star in Pulp Fiction

Gregory Wakeman
Contributor
[Image by Miramax]

Scientology nearly robbed the world of John Travolta’s comeback, after a leading member of the religion told the actor not to star in ‘Pulp Fiction’.

This revelation was made in the latest episode of A&E’s ‘Leah Remini: Scientology And The Aftermath’, via Esquire, with Mike Rinder, a former higher-up in the Church Of Scientology, admitting that he was the one who told Travolta he shouldn’t play the “heroin-addict assassin.”

Rinder recalled, “When Quentin Tarantino approached John Travolta for a role in ‘Pulp Fiction’, John asked me to review the script to tell him what I thought, and his role was a heroin-addict assassin, and I said, ‘Oh, John, I don’t think that you should do this.’”

Pulp Fiction went on to be a huge hit financially, is regarded as one of the greatest films of the last 30 years, and earned John Travolta a Best Actor Oscar nomination. Mike Rinder sees the error of his ways now, though, as he added, “What great career advice; I should be an agent. Sensibly, he ignored me.”

Before being cast in Quentin Tarantino’s 1994 jaunt through Los Angeles’ seedy underbelly John Travolta’s career had hit a huge rough patch.

Travolta achieved meteoric success with both ‘Saturday Night Fever’, ‘Grease’, and ‘Urban Cowboy’ in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Meanwhile 1981’s ‘Blow Out’, which saw him pair with director Brian De Palma, received great reviews but put up poor box office numbers, while ‘Staying Alive’ was the complete opposite, as the sequel to ‘Saturday Night Fever’ was a hit, but was savaged by critics.

Over the next decade, though, the only success Travolta had was with the ‘Look Who’s Talking’ franchise, but even by 1993 that franchise had runs its course, after ‘Looking Who’s Talking Now’ grossed just $10 million from a $22 million budget.

[Image by Miramax]

That’s when Tarantino stepped in with the role of Vincent Vega, which rejuvenated John Travolta’s popularity, as he went on to star in ‘Get Shorty’, ‘Michael’, ‘Phenomenon’, ‘Broken Arrow’, ‘Face/Off’, ‘The Thin Red Line’, and ‘Primary Colours’ over the next few years, each of which achieved some kind of financial or critical success.

That all came to an end with 2000’s double whammy of ‘Battlefield Earth’ and ‘Lucky Numbers’, both of which saw him dominate the Razzies that years. With his track record, it’s safe to assume that Mike Rinder was probably the one who told Travolta to star in both of them.


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