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Barry Sonnenfeld, who directed Get Shorty, commented recently that when John Travolta first took the role of Chili Palmer, he wanted to play him as a "street James Bond.” When asked about that observation, Travolta says, "Chili's a gangster, but he has an image of himself as a much cooler gangster, more along the lines of James Bond. And one of my favorite screen idols was Sean Connery, in particular as Bond, so I just took that as inspiration for my own take on Chili Palmer.”

Without a doubt, Chili Palmer is totally cool; he's confident, nothing fazes him, and he doesn't get flustered. But unlike a typical shylock, Chili has a distinct morality – he's a gentleman's gangster. Is Chili too moral for the cutthroat movie and music industries? "Morality is subjective,” says Travolta. "I think Chili has a sense of fairness and a sense of justice. His approach to both may be a bit unorthodox, but he has an innate sense of those qualities, and at the end of the day Chili Palmer is a good guy.”

Many feel that Chili Palmer is one of Travolta's best characters. Does he agree? "I think it is one of many wonderful roles of a lifetime, and it was fun to experience what Chili does in the music industry in a whole new unit of time. The challenge in Be Cool was how Chili would respond to the his new environment – he's actually more comfortable because there are more gangsters in the music business than the film industry,” he laughs.

"Chili always takes advantage of an opportunity,” continues Travolta, "giving two things consideration: is it appropriate to take advantage, and is it fair and just? He's just clever that way. Chili never really worries about anything. He's a created character that's based on confidence, and even if he's not particular confident in a certain instance, you'd never know it. He's always analyzing how to get in and out of situations in a very cool way.”

Travolta was thrilled Uma Thurman chose to accept the role of Edie Athens. "Uma and I are very comfortable together on screen,” he says, "and in Be Cool we're playing very different characters than we played in Pulp Fiction. In Pulp Fiction we were basically playing two people that were hell-bent for death, and in Be Cool we're playing two people that are cool and rugged, cool-bent for life.”

When asked whether he and Uma would return to the dance floor together for a scene in Be Cool, "I said it would have to be something Chili would feel good about dancing to. Chili would dance to something with a Brazilian sound or a Latin rhythm or something like that. He'd probably do a fox trot, the cha-cha, a samba, a mambo – something with which he could keep his Frank Sinatra-era, low-key, New York-style cool. The Black Eyed Peas had just done a brilliant rap version of a Joabim song from 1962 called ‘Sexy,' and it's exactly what I would have wanted to dance to.”

Of his other co-stars, Travolta also really got a kick out of The Rock's charcter, Elliot. "In this film The Rock shows the sense of humor he has,” says Travolta, "and he shows his ability to act by taking on a role that's very unique. He has so many wonderful, incongruous moments. One of the reasons I took this movie was because of a certain scene he's in. To see The Rock, dead serious, doing a two-character scene about cheerleaders from Bring It On as a monologue – the intrinsic comedy in that scene is flawless. That's as good as it gets.”

To film the scene in which Chili and Edie head to a Lakers game to enlist Aerosmith's Steven Tyler into their scheme to save their record label, Travolta enjoyed watching the crowd's reaction. "We filmed at an actual Lakers game at the Staples Center, and the people saw Uma and I come in and out several times. You could tell they were wondering why we kept coming in and out, sitting down to talk to Steven Tyler in exactly the same way. They thought it was real life,” he laughs.

"Steven was a nat


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