W magazine profiles John Travolta in their current issue, naively noting how "at 53 [he] still has a good head of hair and wields his famous blue eyes to powerful effect." When the topic shifts to his upcoming turn as Hairspray's zaftig hausfrau Edna Turnblad, Travolta explains how he firmly told producers that he would only take on the gender-bending role if they promised to build him the kind of plus-size, womanly curves recently dubbed by the LAT as the "new look" of Hollywood:
He tested prospective personae of his feminine self on the set of his recent buddy comedy Wild Hogs because, he says, he wanted to hear "from straight men how they would like to see a man be a woman." The Edna that eventually took shape might be described as a dancing elephant with a wasp waist.
"I said, 'If you give me a big waist, then I become Grandma,'" recalls Travolta. "'You can make her ass as big as you want, her tits as big as you want, but if you don't bring her in'"—here he mashes in his own solid middle with the heels of his hands—"'I can't play what I want to play.'" [...]
[A]t the end of the interview, after the tape recorder has been turned off, he is posed one last question: Is he bothered by the rampant rumors about his sexuality, and does he think they've affected his career? "No and no," says Travolta casually. "What affects your career is the quality of the product." Besides, he adds with his typical confidence, "I don't think anyone can hurt me."
It's difficult to know where exactly these rumors get started—perhaps it's something in his airborne, nocturnal lifestyle, or the distinctly European manner with which he greets his male friends. Still, we're heartened to know such spurious hearsay rolls so easily off the actor, ultimately failing to distract him from getting the waist-to-hip-ratio character details just right.