In the Fred Durst-directed The Fanatic, John Travolta plays Moose, an obsessive, Los Angeles-dwelling fan of horror movie actor Hunter Dunbar (Devon Sawa). But what has obsessed many people over the past year is the distinctive look sported by Travolta in the film, an assemblage which includes a severe monk-ish haircut and loud Hawaiian shirt. What gives?
“Fred said, ‘What about a mullet?'” says Travolta. “And I said, ‘Hmm, I don’t know.’ He said, ‘You know, there are different kinds of mullets. They’re not all what you think.’ I told him, ‘Let me take a look.’ So, I went online, and I went through 150 versions. and finally — Bam! — I found one, with a guy with spectacles. I went, Oh my gosh, that is Moose. Then I said, ‘Fred, how do you see him dressed?’ The film is loosely based on someone he knew, that wasn’t as extreme as this character. And the real Moose, in Fred’s life, always wore a big Hawaiian shirt and shorts. The backpack, and the Hawaiian shirt, and the shorts, and the kind of bad sneakers, and the shorts were all sort of based on realty. The haircut and the glasses were inspired by a picture. And that’s how that came to be!”
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Fred Durst is obviously best known as the frontman of Limp Bizkit. How did he convince you to star in Fanatic?
He called me one day. I had met him many years ago, maybe 15 years ago, and he said, “John, I wrote something.” He said, “I want you to give it a read, and see how you feel about playing this kind of character in this kind of movie.” And I loved it. I couldn’t wait to play Moose. You know, sometimes you have characters in your back pocket. I felt that way with Shapiro (attorney Robert Shapiro, who Travolta played in The People v. O.J. Simpson), I felt that way with Hairspray, I felt that way with Pulp Fiction. I felt that way a handful of times and I look for that.
Who exactly is Moose?
Moose is a true fan of his favorite artist, and he has a simple quest in life, and that is to collect memorabilia from his favorite artist. If he can’t, he gets upset, and because he’s slightly, maybe, on the special needs spectrum, to some degree, he doesn’t always see the reality that is happening, and because of that he gets in trouble. But his timing is so bad with this particular movie star that he’s obsessed with — because the movie star is having a tremendous amount of trouble in life and [regards] Moose as a complete enemy of his survival. You know, some celebrities are good people, but they are bad celebrities, and I think Hunter is a good person, but a bad celebrity, and he misunderstands Moose’s purity and intent.
As I explained via email while arranging this interview, I recently moved to Los Angeles, and The Fanatic has made me doubt my decision to do so, to be honest.
I laughed so hard when I saw that message. I totally understand why you would feel that way. You know, there’s so many slices of life in Hollywood, like Quentin’s version of Hollywood in Once Upon a Time… Then there’s the Moose version of Hollywood. It’s two different takes, but both kind of scary.
Speaking of scary, at one point in the film, Moose pretends to be Jason Voorhees from the Friday the 13th movies. Was that fun?
Yes. Because his intent is just to have fun. But of course the Hunter Dunbar’s character scared to death, because he’s tied up, he doesn’t know that this guy just wants to play act and show him how good an actor he could be., he does these different horror pictures to entertain Hunter. So, it was fun to be innocent with it, but to see how the other character misinterprets it.
Nicolas Cage was recently in a film called Mandy and he partly based his performance on Jason Voorhees. So, both the stars of Face/Off have now, in a sense, played Jason Voorhees.
[Laughs] Yes! Absolutely!
Do you know what you are doing next?
No, I don’t. I did this wonderful video with Pitbull, which has gone viral, and it’s a song where I dance, and I may help him promote that a bit. I read a few scripts a week and, like [playing] Moose, I like to do something different, and I’ve been pretty good at locating the differences, and I really wait for that, and unless that comes I don’t say yes. Because it’s fun for me, and then it’s fun for the audience as well. If you can take them on a journey, they get a bigger kick out of it, you know.
Quiver Distribution is releasing The Fanatic in theaters Aug. 30 and on digital and On Demand, Sept. 6.