Photos of John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John's 40-year friendship – Insider
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Newton-John almost didn’t take on the part of Sandy Olsson.
In her autobiography “Don’t Stop Believin’,” the Australian actress said she felt too old at 28 to play a high school student. Two of her prior films flopped at the box office, leaving her unsure about her acting career.
But when the already-cast Travolta met with Newton-John about the movie, she agreed to a screen test.
“In person, John Travolta radiates pure joy and love. That day, he greeted me with a big hug like we were already lifelong friends. How could you say no to John Travolta?” she writes, per The Sunday Post.
The actors arrived on the red carpet together to celebrate the premiere, fielding questions from reporters as they made their way past screaming fans.
Travolta channeled his on-screen character Danny Zuko in a leather jacket, while Newton-John opted for a pink gown.
While attending a party for “Grease” at Paramount Studios the year of the film’s premiere, the actors gave a glimpse of their on-screen chemistry by sharing a kiss.
Though the actors stayed in character as Sandy and Danny on set, their romance was limited to the script. In her autobiography, Newton-John recalls having a mutual “attraction” with Travolta but explains that they were both committed to other people.
“The truth is, it never went beyond friendship with John despite the fact that the fans wanted for us to become a couple in real life. We left the making out to Sandy and Danny, but the deep feeling of sisterly love I have for John continues to this day,” she writes, per The Sunday Post.
Decades after they shot the film, Newton-John said “Grease” benefited from the fact that the actors never got together in real life.
“I think it kept the tension there and the chemistry. It might have been a real disaster had we decided to date or we had a falling out or something.” she reportedly said on a 2018 episode of Mamamia podcast.
The duo did press rounds for “Grease” at the 1978 American Film Festival in Deauville, France.
The costars wore formal attire to the 1978 Academy Awards.
Travolta and Newton-John teamed up once again as the leads in “Two of a Kind,” a 1983 romantic fantasy film directed by John Herzfeld.
Fans and critics weren’t nearly as impressed by the movie as they were by “Grease” (“Two of a Kind” was nominated for several Razzle Awards and scored an 18% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes). However, the movie’s soundtrack was certified platinum and featured numerous songs by Newton-John.
To honor the original 1971 musical, written by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, the movie stars attended a party at the Sheraton Universal Hotel in Universal City, California.
Newton-John and Travolta attended an event for Paramount Studio’s 90th anniversary in 2002 along with other stars from “Grease.”
Travolta and Newton-John dueted the finale song from “Grease,” incorporating some of the original choreography into their routine.
Newton-John spent time chatting with Travolta and his wife Preston at the event.
Preston, who had been married to Travolta since 1991, died of breast cancer in 2020. She was 57 years old.
After her death, Newton-John described the actress as a “radiant, beautiful light in the world” on an episode of “People.“
Newton-John joined the married couple at the event, at which Travolta presented the actress with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
They attended the event at the Hollywood and Highland Grand Ballroom in Hollywood, California.
Newton-John has been married to Easterling, an environmentalist and businessman, since 2008.
The tracklist included a duet called “I Think You Might Like It,” from John Farrar, the same songwriter behind “You’re the One That I Want.”
Newton-John and Travolta shot a holiday-themed music video for the song, which was Travolta’s idea, he explained during an interview on SiriusXM.
“The little step we created was a homage to ‘You’re the One That I Want,'” he said.
Newton-John added: “Everything was spontaneous.”
The actors spoke on stage at the event, which was held at the InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown.
After four decades, Travolta and Newton-John still knew their “Grease” choreography.