The Fanatic Star John Travolta Reflects on His Demented But Fun Villain Role in The Punisher

John Travolta, who next plays a celebrity-obsessed stalker in The Fanatic, reflected on his "demented" but "fun" role as mobster Howard Saint in 2004's The Punisher when explaining the freedom in approaching bad guy roles.

"Any role is easier to play if it's well-written. And if a villain is well-written, there's a little more freedom [in how you play it]," Travolta said at FAN EXPO Canada, where he detailed his freestyle approach in 1997's Face/Off.

There Travolta improvised licking Nic Cage's face, saying at the convention "those are the freedoms you get" when playing a villain who is less rigid than his heroic counterpart.

"Even in The Punisher — that's a fun movie — the cold, deep, dark place that that character's from," Travolta said. "He throws his wife in a front of a train and then he says to the guy he thinks she was [cheating on him with], 'She caught the train.' It's so demented, but fun to play. So there is a little more freedom in the dark bad guy characters."

During FAN EXPO Boston earlier in the month, Travolta said he would be interested in another Marvel role if it were as "reality-based" as The Punisher.

"I'm more reality-based in acting choices. So whatever Marvel scenario invites more of a reality — like The Punisher was very reality-based, and I'm more attracted to that than fantasticism," Travolta explained. "So that's all I could say about that. That's why I like the Bond movies, because even though they're bigger than life, they're still reality-based."

In picking his projects, the script must be "of a story that I love and want to tell."

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"And is the character [one] that I can believe I can do differently enough to be entertaining to the audience? And maybe that you couldn't imagine another actor [in the role], if I did it well enough," Travolta said. "You say, 'Well, I don't want to see anyone else do that role.' And then I would feel that I had achieved my goal."

The Fanatic, directed by Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst, releases to theaters August 30 ahead of a digital and VOD premiere on September 6.