Warner Bros.’ First Choice For Prince’s Role In ‘Purple Rain’? John Travolta!

Editor-at-Large
04.29.16 3 Comments

One of the greatest and most hilarious “almost” moments in movie history took place in 1983, when Paramount came *thisclose* to making a version of Godfather III that would have been directed by Sylvester Stallone and co-starred Stallone and John Travolta. Stallone and Travolta! In The Godfather! How could anything possibly be better than that?

Well, I’ll tell you. Around the same time those discussions were taking place, Prince’s manager, Robert Cavallo, was shopping a script around Hollywood that would eventually become the movie Purple Rain. Rolling Stone has an interesting interview with director Albert Magnoli about the making of the film, and one particular tidbit concerning their attempt to get the project off the ground really stands out.

Cavallo realized there might be studio interest in the material, so they wanted me to come and speak to various studios. I didn’t really want to do that. I felt that once a studio is involved, then you have the studio interference thing. I said, “We have a million dollars,” and Bob said, “If we don’t have to spend our own money that would be fantastic.”

The first meeting at Warner Brothers was with the head of the studio and production and some executives, and the first thing they said was, “Is it possible to ask if John Travolta can play Prince?” I looked at [Prince’s managers] and thought, “This is what I’m talking about. Welcome to this world.”

Travolta! Again!

Think about this for a second: If they had been able to work out the schedules, John Travolta could have had two starring roles in 1984: One as a Sicilian mobster opposite Sylvester Stallone in the third Godfather, and one as a lightly fictionalized version of Prince. Travolta! As Prince!

Now, obviously, there would have been some pretty substantial changes to the script had they gone through with all of this. You know, to Travolta it up a little. But here’s what I want you to do: Find a nice quiet place. Close your eyes. Clear your mind of extraneous thought. Then, I want you to picture a shot-for-shot, line-for-line remake of Purple Rain, but with John Travolta instead of Prince. Picture John Travolta in a frilly white shirt singing “I Would Die 4 U.” Picture John Travolta speeding past the lakes of Minnesota on a purple motorcycle, his white scarf flapping in the breeze behind him. Picture John Travolta getting into backstage arguments with Morris Day. Picture all of it.

Almost worth it, right?

(Via Rolling Stone)

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