The hit 1996 movie Jerry Maguire stars Tom Cruise and Kelly Preston, and at one point they have a rather steamy scene together. However, Preston was and is still married to John Travolta, and when he saw the film for the first time it was understandably a bit awkward. Then in December 2019 he finally came clean about what his exact reaction was.
Jerry Maguire took years to go from the screenplay stage to a movie, but audiences loved it when it finally arrived. It made back several times its budget, and was nominated for no less than five Oscars. And Cuba Gooding Jr., who played Rod, ended up taking a Best Supporting Actor award home.
Kelly Preston played Avery, the fiancée and then ex-fiancée to Tom Cruise’s Jerry. Furthermore, the slightly scandalous scene between Jerry and Avery was a surprising addition to the flick. The relationship between the former and the woman he eventually ends up with, Renée Zellweger’s Dorothy, was very sweet. But the sex between Jerry and the insensitive Avery was less so, and it came as a shock to some viewers.
While Preston was filming the aforementioned graphic love scene, she was a few years into her marriage to Travolta. The pair had wed in 1991 and welcomed their first child together the year after that. However, it took them a while to get to that point – not least because Preston was married to someone else when they met.
The famous pair met while making the 1987 movie The Experts. Back then, Preston was married to Heat actor Kevin Gage, and Travolta was in a relationship with Marilu Henner. Yet despite that being the case, Travolta has often said that he fell in love with Preston the moment he met her.
In 2018 Preston told Andy Cohen on Watch What Happens Live! all about that first meeting with her future husband. When Cohen questioned if it was a case of love at first sight, Preston answered, “Kinda. Well, I was not that happily married, let’s put it that way. I was really with the wrong person.”
In June 2018 Preston told the website Whimn about the day they met, saying, “I was at a screen test in Los Angeles sitting in this big waiting area and I saw [Travolta] coming across the room. Whooo whooo. He had his two dogs and it was like, ‘Oh my God!’ I said hello and thought, ‘Okay, I’m in trouble.’”
And in that same interview Travolta told the website, “I helped [Preston] in different ways to get her through her troubled marriage and I didn’t ever cross the line. I just genuinely helped her, and I think that bond when we were working together later helped us navigate and have a kind of trust about it, I guess.”
After divorcing Gage, Preston dated A-list actor George Clooney for a time, but the relationship didn’t last. She then became engaged to Charlie Sheen in 1990, but the whole thing came to a scandalous end when he allegedly fired a gun at her – hitting her arm. Preston would later claim that he hadn’t done it, however.
When Travolta proposed to Preston on New Year’s Eve 1990 – with a six-carat diamond engagement ring no less – the actress was utterly thrilled. She told Entertainment Tonight at the time, “We plan to have some babies. We’re practicing right now. This could be barefoot and pregnant for the next ten years.”
Clearly, Preston and Travolta had no qualms about letting the world know they had an active sex life. In 2005 the latter even let slip that he and his wife had joined the Mile High Club. He told FHM magazine, “In my Lear jet days, we joined the club. I shut off the cockpit [and] let someone else fly.”
But the Travolta-Preston relationship wasn’t all smooth sailing. That same year the actor told the media that he and his wife had been to therapy, and it had saved their marriage. He said to the magazine Night and Day, “I know for a fact that we wouldn’t be together if we hadn’t had counseling.”
Travolta went on to explain, “We had it every six months for 12 years. Relationships grow and change. If you don’t update your relationship, you grow apart. We got to know each other over the years. Now we don’t use counseling as much. But sure, I could have seen us separating without counseling.”
But come 2009 Travolta and Preston experienced something which can pull even the closest of couples apart: the death of a child. That year their eldest son Jett, who had autism and other medical conditions, suffered a seizure which killed him. He was only 16 years old, and it was a crushing blow for the family.
The family was left devastated at the loss of Jett, but two years later they decided to have another child. It was a boy who they named Benjamin – a brother for their daughter Ella. Appearing on Good Morning America in 2016, Travolta said, “Certainly having little Ben has been a beautiful kind of glue for us to rebond after [a] tremendous loss.”
Travolta and Preston seemed to grow ever closer as they raised their new child. In 2017 they both spoke to Closer Weekly magazine about the secrets of their marriage. Travolta said, “We really care deeply about each other and we protect each other – and we keep [our relationship] up to date.”
In the interview, Travolta then dispensed some relationship advice. Couples should, he said, “explore what the new needs are for each other,” and “if you take a little bit of energy to take inventory of ‘What are you interested in lately?’ then you can keep it fresh.” Preston added, “Keep checking in and keep growing and changing. Keep doing things, just the two of you.”
In 2018 Travolta and Preston did another film together – having previously both starred in the critical disaster Battlefield Earth in 2000. This one was called Gotti, a biopic of the infamous mob boss John Gotti. Travolta played the title role, and Preston portrayed the protagonist’s wife Victoria.
The film wasn’t easy for the couple to make, though. The real-life Gottis had lost a child just as Travolta and Preston had done. Preston told Whimn in 2018, “That was a very difficult day of filming, and also to experience it together with [Travolta]. The crew was very kind, very gentle and protective and it’s just something where I didn’t think too much because I couldn’t. It’s really a very dark place, but I just decided to go there and relive certain things.”
However, despite the work Travolta and Preston put into it, Gotti turned out to be an absolute disaster. It received such a mauling from critics that it ended up with the lowest possible score on movie review site RottenTomatoes. Elsewhere, The Hollywood Reporter wrote that it was “poorly written, devoid of tension, ridiculous in spots and just plain dull in others.”
Some critics, however, conceded that the performances weren’t all that bad. Rolling Stone said that “the sad part is that under more astute guidance… Travolta could have played the hell out of this complex role.” And Entertainment Weekly wrote, “Kelly Preston juices up the thankless role of mafioso wife with a den mother’s feral protectiveness.”
Yet despite some warm wards from movie reviewers, Gotti still catapulted, like Battlefield Earth before it, to the top of many people’s “Worst Films Ever Made” lists. However, the professional setback seemed to, according to those apparently in the know, affect Travolta and Preston less than perhaps might be expected.
In March 2019 an anonymous source told the magazine Closer Weekly, “[Travolta] is working to compensate for dragging [Preston] into the experience of making Gotti and the embarrassment that has come with its total failure.” They added, “He had the best intentions but they blew up in his face.”
The source claimed that Travolta felt “personally responsible for the failure of this movie and he’s helping Kelly find the perfect next role.” The hope was that she might, “land another Jerry Maguire or a TV series like Stranger Things.” But, they added, “They’ve been a couple for 30 years now, and they’re not going to let one lousy movie ruin their good time!”
However, it was a different good time in question when Travolta appeared on The Late Late Show with James Corden in December 2019. The other guests were film director Sam Taylor-Johnson and her actor husband Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and before long the subject of conversation turned to sex scenes.
Sam and Aaron Taylor-Johnson initially discussed the problem of filming sex scenes as a married couple – including an occasion where wife had to film husband kissing another woman on Valentine’s Day. But then Corden turned to Travolta, asking him, “You are obviously married to a brilliant actor, Kelly Preston. Do you have awkwardness together when you see each other in love scenes?”
Travolta announced, “You don’t even know what awkward is, nor do you, until you sit in the screening of Jerry Maguire and you don’t know that scene is coming up and your wife is with Tom Cruise in the middle of something that is astonishing.” He added, “That’s awkward. I had no idea.”
Corden none-too-helpfully, but amusingly, reminded Travolta of the most infamous bit of the sex scene. He joked, “Because she says in the film, she says, ‘Never ever stop f**king me, don’t ever stop.’” She does in fact shout that in the throes of passion, and all Travolta had to say to that was a simple, “That was rough.”
Believe it or not, though, Cruise is actually a friend of both Preston and Travolta despite all that. In January 2009 after Jett had passed away, Cruise appeared on The View to speak about the family. The death, he said, was “something that I don’t have the words for.” But he added that his friends were “doting parents, just wonderful people.”
The three are also joined via their shared religion: Scientology. Cruise and Travolta are two of the most prominent Scientologists in the world, even though quite a few famous people follow the religion. Despite all the criticism aimed at Scientology, neither A-list actor has ever seemed to waver from it, and they’re sometimes seen together at Scientology events.
However, it seems that Travolta does get envious of his wife’s co-stars – including Cruise. In 2009 the website Contactmusic reported that he said, “I have been jealous of many of her co-stars. I didn’t like her making love to Tom Cruise. I didn’t like her making love to Kevin Costner in Love of the Game. It was hard to watch.”
Curiously, the only co-star of his wife’s Travolta announced he was all right with was Robin Williams. Both men and Preston starred in the 2009 comedy Old Dogs, where Preston played the ex-wife of the late comedian and actor’s character. Travolta said, “All I can say is thank God for [Williams]. I adore [him] so it was okay with him.”
Preston gave her view on that issue during a 2009 interview with the U.K. newspaper Metro. The interviewer asked, “Does your husband mind you kissing your co-stars?” and Preston answered, “Well, John doesn’t like it. It’s his least favourite thing. You have to put it into perspective though, and remember it’s just work.”
Metro probed some more, asking the actress, “What about when it’s a mutual friend like Tom Cruise?” Preston answered, “It’s still odd and very bizarre. You didn’t actually see anything in Jerry Maguire. It was all very strategically shot but that’s definitely as far as I’ve ever gone in that respect.”
Preston had spoken just a year before that interview about the mechanics of the Jerry Maguire sex scene. In 2008 she told Extra that while filming, “There’s always awkwardness!… But he’s a pro. I’m a pro. It was a completely closed set, very well written, shot fast.”
In that same interview, Preston defended [Cruise] regarding his past headline-grabbing behaviour – such as jumping on Oprah Winfrey’s couch. She said, “To be honest, I felt sad that I live in a society where we can’t show pure joy if you’re excited. He’s passionate, so he showed some unbridled emotion. Good for him. It was just spun out of control.”
Elsewhere, there have long been rumors about a Cruise-Preston-Travolta love triangle of sorts. In 2018 gossip magazine Star claimed that Cruise had been trying to get Preston to appear in his upcoming sequel to the fighter pilot movie Top Gun – allegedly sending her texts about it right into the night.
The source who spoke to Star claimed that “[Cruise] thinks [Preston’s] super talented, not to mention sexy.” But, they went on, Scientology was also involved in the alleged dispute. They claimed, “[Travolta has] always been jealous of the church giving [Cruise] top billing. [Cruise] already gets whatever he wants, but [Travolta] draws the line at his wife.”
However, the story was dismissed as nonsense. The website Gossip Cop reported that different, more reliable sources had confirmed that Preston hadn’t been asked by anyone to be in the Top Gun sequel. And indeed, trailers released for the film show no sign of Preston anywhere in them, while the Preston-Travolta relationship carried on as it always had.
So it would appear that there’s only one pilot for Preston – Travolta himself, who has a keen interest in planes. In 2018 she told Whimn, “I love him when he puts on his pilot’s uniform… I make him put it on.” Clearly, that could only be referring to one thing – but no one gets to watch that.