John Travolta has been in the public eye for more than 40 years. He has a pretty good handle on the benefits and perils of fame.
That includes the other side of celebrity, which is what attracted him to playing super-fan Moose, the title character in the low-budget stalker thriller The Fanatic.
“I felt right away that I understood this guy,” Travolta said during a recent stop in Dallas. “I understand the unrequited love of a fan, daydreaming what it would be like if this superstar wanted to be your friend. I think all of us have a little bit of Moose in them. I have a lot of Moose in me.”
Moose is a Hollywood street performer on the autism spectrum who misses a chance at a prime autograph from his favorite actor (Devon Sawa). Later, he channels his disappointment into persistence and eventually obsession when he finds the star’s home address, leading to a series of increasingly dangerous confrontations.
“I’ve been an unadulterated fan of people,” Travolta said. “All I had to do was play that to the max. I don’t have to hide admiration. I felt very cool about expressing it through this character.”
The film reportedly is inspired by an actual incident involving an overzealous stan and director Fred Durst, the frontman for the rap-metal band Limp Bizkit.
For his first feature in more than a decade, Durst sought out Travolta to play Moose. But it was the actor’s idea to introduce tics and eccentricities to help keep him sympathetic and realistically grounded. Travolta said the role suits his mindset as a character actor.
“Character acting is an escape from who you think you are. You get a relief from not being you. That’s exciting to me,” he said. “That’s why I was able to approach this with confidence. His world is so filled with illusion, delusion, and fantasy, that he was fun. I could stay in character longer with him. The innocence in his heart is so pure.”