John Travolta says the Tom Hanks role in 'Splash' was actually written for him

·Contributor
·3 min read
John Travolta says he was the first choice for the role played by Tom Hanks in 'Splash'. (Sarah Morris/Getty Images/Buena Vista Pictures)
John Travolta says he was the first choice for the role played by Tom Hanks in 'Splash'. (Sarah Morris/Getty Images/Buena Vista Pictures)

John Travolta has reflected on some of the near-misses in his career, including the role played by Tom Hanks in 1984 romcom Splash.

Speaking to Kevin Hart on his streaming show Hart to Heart, Travolta said the part in Ron Howard's famous comedy was written with him in mind.

Read more: Olivia Newton-John was nervous before Travolta kiss

The 67-year-old star joked that he can "take responsibility" for the careers of several stars who took roles he wasn't able to do, including Tom Hanks and Richard Gere.

He said: "The role in the Hanks film called Splash was written for me. But then we wouldn't have Tom Hanks, so let's have Tom Hanks."

Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah were praised for their chemistry in the 1984 romcom 'Splash'. (Buena Vista Pictures)
Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah were praised for their chemistry in the 1984 romcom 'Splash'. (Buena Vista Pictures)

Hanks ultimately took the role, in which he portrayed a man who falls in love with a woman who is secretly a mermaid — portrayed by Daryl Hannah.

The film was a success at the box office and with critics, securing an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay and helping to take Hanks's career to the next level.

Read more: Tom Hanks paid for crucial Forrest Gump scenes to be filmed

Travolta said he was also unable to take on roles he was offered in the Terrence Malick film Days of Heaven, which went to Richard Gere, and Hal Ashby's The Last Detail — ultimately taken up by Jack Nicholson.

He revealed that there was a small group of actors at that time in the late 1970s and early 1980s who were routinely approached for similar roles.

Watch: Facts you might not know about Tom Hanks

"This is the irony of it, or the interesting part of it, I should say. There was very few of us. Now, there's a tonne of people competing," said Travolta. 

He added: "It's much more difficult to establish yourself now in any aspect — movies, music.

Read more: Panned Travolta movie targets Oscar recognition

"It was just Richard Gere, myself and Treat Williams up for most parts. So if I didn't get it, one of those guys would. And then Tom was a few years later." 

He added: "Those roles would get interchangeable, depending on what was happening. So in some ways, in Vegas, what's a one out of four chance?"

John Travolta was one of Hollywood's most in-demand leading men during the late 1970s and 1980s. (Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
John Travolta was one of Hollywood's most in-demand leading men during the late 1970s and 1980s. (Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

Travolta was offered numerous projects during this time period, following his success with Grease and Saturday Night Fever in the 1970s.

He missed out on hits including An Officer and a Gentlemen and American Gigolo, which both went to Gere.

Read more: John Travolta pays tribute to late wife Kelly Preston

His career subsequently declined throughout the latter part of the 1980s, until his resurgence in the wake of his Oscar nomination for Quentin Tarantino's 1994 thriller Pulp Fiction.

Travolta hinted last year that he would be taking something of a career break following the passing of his wife Kelly Preston.

Watch: Travolta had candid conversation about death with his son

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