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Feature: Be Cool

Johnny Be Cool

John Travolta John Travolta tells us why working with Uma Thurman again on Be Cool just wasn’t the same without Tarantino

After conquering the movie business in the 1995 film Get Shorty, Chili Palmer has turned his attention to the music business in the sequel, Be Cool. According to actor John Travolta, standing on a stage located under a bridge in downtown Los Angeles at three in the morning, crossing over to the music industry is a natural progression for the smooth criminal. “Chili actually feels more comfortable in the music industry because there’s a lot of gangsters in the music business,” he says. “They’re gangster-like, and he’s used to dealing with people like that. The humour in the film comes from the fact that they’re gangsters and artists at the same time, so Chili talks to them as musicians on one level but then he also talks to them like they’re gangsters, because they’re also gangsters.”

In Be Cool, Chili Palmer, bored and disillusioned with the movie business, sees his opportunity to get into the exciting world of the music business when he befriends the beautiful widow of a music executive, Edie, played by Uma Thurman. Preparing for Be Cool forced Travolta to listen to lots of music in order to get a feel for Chili Palmer the record executive. “Chili’s more comfortable in the music business because he’s more comfortable around those kinds of people but Chili wants to be a movie producer as well as a music producer; he wants to be involved in every aspect of the entertainment world,” says Travolta. “The film business was harder for Chili because he didn’t always know how to talk to them because he’d never been around people like that before. In terms of music, I listened to a lot of music by The Black Eyed Peas because they have songs in the film, which I dance to in the film. The music in the film is early ’60s jazzy music, which is the kind of music I think Chili would like.”

Be Cool marks a reunion for Travolta with actress Uma Thurman, with whom he worked on the immortal 1994 film Pulp Fiction. Another Pulp Fiction alumnus, Harvey Keitel, also stars in Be Cool, as fast-talking record executive Nick Carr, who ends up trying to put Chili Palmer out of business for good. For Travolta, getting to work with Thurman again was a dream come true, not least of which was because the two actors get to dance again. “Uma and I have a scene in the film where we dance and the dance scene is sort of like a ’60s foxtrot, samba, bossa nova, that kind of dancing, with a Black Eyed Peas version of that music,” says Travolta. “It’s early ’60s jazz but more modern and hipper because of the Black Eyed Peas. I’ve wanted to work with Uma again ever since Pulp Fiction. I worked with Sam Jackson on Basic, and now Uma and I have worked with each other, and that just leaves Quentin Tarantino. I’m jealous that Sam and Uma have worked with Quentin again and I haven’t. I hope we can all work together, all of us in one movie, very soon.”

by David Grove

Get the full interview, plus Uma Thurman and director F Gary Gray in
Film Review (Apr)

Imagel © Visual Imagination Ltd, Be Cool © MGM
Feature © Visual Imagination 2005. Not for reproduction

Taken from
Film Review (Apr), see below for ordering options
Film Review (Apr)
#655, April 2005
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