It isn’t every day that you meet a man who has a personal runway in his backyard, a Boeing 787 at his disposal and talks with an impish grin when his Dubai checklist includes, of all things, a camel ride.
Oh, and did we fail to mention that he only has some of Hollywood’s living legends on his speed dial?
Indeed, this is actor John Travolta, an anomaly if you must, in the Hollywood way.
Fulfilling his role as the brand ambassador for Qantas Airways, the actor jetted into Dubai early Monday, with his children and sister, gushing with enthusiasm over his plans to visit “the world’s tallest building".
Speaking to the press at a packed event in Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, Travolta confessed that it was his idea to come to Dubai for the brand he has been endorsing for 10 years now.
“When I first heard of the partnership between Emirates and Qantas, I knew this would be the perfect chance to finally visit a city that I have been hearing about for nearly a decade but had yet to visit,” said Travolta.
He continued: “I am what you call an aviation geek and an architectural nut. Coming to Dubai seemed like the perfect amalgamation of the two.”
The ‘Grease’ star, who naturally flew in on a Qantas flight from London Heathrow, will be in Dubai for the next few days, playing tourist as he takes in the emirate’s major landmarks.
When Emirates24|7 quizzed the actor on which landmarks he plans on visiting, Travolta said: “Well, I am definitely looking forward to riding a camel. And, of course, I will take in the world’s tallest building (Burj Khalifa) and the building in the shape of the sail (Burj Al Arab). I am the tourist, so why don’t you advice me on what I should see?”
Well, we wouldn’t mind him pulling a Tom Cruise and perching himself atop the Burj Khalifa spire, with a Qantas jet flying by.
Talking about his descent into the emirate, the actor said: “Seeing the Dubai skyline as we approached from the plane, there is nothing like it in the world. It’s breathtaking.”
When asked whether his love for the city could see him possibly invest in a holiday home here in future, the actor did not directly reply to the query. However, he said: “If I ever had a home here, I would love to have my own private runway in the back. That’s how it is at my Florida home.”
Quizzed whether the Emirates-Qantas partnership could see the actor lend his name to the Dubai carrier and the actor didn’t rule it out.
“I met the president of Emirates (Tim Clark) at the Emirates-Qantas party and he told me how amazing the people of Dubai really are. Anything is possible in future,” he said.
The 59-year-old actor credited his passion for flying to his childhood and his sister.
“Growing up in New Jersey, my home was directly on the flight path of La Guardia planes taking off and I would sit there for hours staring at them,” he recalled. “My first flight ever was from New York to Philadelphia, not more than a 20-minute flight at best, but I held on to that airline ticket. In fact, I started collecting airline tickets as a child.”
His love for flying saw the actor enrol for flying lessons aged 15 and he graduated to a jet licence by age 25, even as his Hollywood career was taking off with his first breakthrough role in the cult horror of 1976, ‘Carrie’.
Over the next few years, he appeared in two of his most noted screen roles: Tony Manero in 1977’s ‘Saturday Night Fever’ (for which he earned an Oscar nomination) and as Danny Zuko in ‘Grease’ (1978).
His career took a hit right after and it wasn’t until 1994 when he played Vincent Vega in Quentin Tarantino’s cult hit ‘Pulp Fiction’ that Travolta’s Hollywood career staged a comeback.
But through his ups and downs, the actor, maintained his passion for flying, even serving his time as a pilot for his fellow Hollywood costars.
He admitted: “I have flown Marlon Brando from Mexico City to Los Angeles, boxer Mohammed Ali and Barabara Streisand on her honeymoon.”
After his Dubai holiday and his Qantas commitments, the actor will begin filming for the biopic on the life of Mafioso John Gotti.