Back when Paramount Pictures was putting together “Grease” in 1977, Travolta made one major request: He wanted to have “blue-black hair like Rock Hudson and Elvis Presley.”
Nearly three decades later, Travolta not only recalls that odd fixation but also explains it: “When I was a kid, I saw those Rock Hudson and Elvis Presley movies and I loved that surrealism of blue-black hair. These guys had this almost cartoon thing about them. Black hair photographs blue, and I thought it was so authentic of the 1950s.”
For Travolta’s follow-up musical, “Hairspray,” he had far greater concerns than just his hair color.
“I tried to convince people that I actually was a woman,” he says of the Baltimore hausfrau Edna Turnblad. “I was trying to go into new territory.”
His inspirations: “I had a whole library of fantastic women from the movies to choose from: Anita Ekberg, Sophia Loren, Elizabeth Taylor, Delta Burke, all gone to flesh. They’re still beautiful, but they have a semblance of the shape they had when they were younger. And if they gained 200 pounds, they’d still have a semblance of their (original) shape. I just felt that if I could keep a degree of sexuality that it would emphasize the vulnerability of the Edna character.”