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John Travolta Reflects on ‘The Shepherd’ and Shares Personal Near-Death Experience

John Travolta
John Travolta (Credits: The Independent)

John Travolta shared his thoughts on ‘The Shepherd,’ a new short film directed by Alfonso Cuarón scheduled to premiere on Disney+ this winter. The iconic actor revealed that the film immediately captured his interest due to his personal near-death experience while piloting an aircraft on Thanksgiving.

Adapted from Frederick Forsyth’s 1975 book of the same name, the film, directed by Ben Radcliffe, follows the story of Freddie Hooke, a young Royal Air Force pilot traveling across the North Sea to return home for Christmas in his de Havilland Vampire airplane. However, a complete electrical failure shortly after takeoff leaves Freddie in a perilous situation with minimal chances of survival.

John Travolta

John Travolta (Credits: Variety)

In an unexpected turn of events, Travolta’s mysterious character pilot appears in the sky, ready to guide the young man to safety. Choosing a unique way to spend Thanksgiving, Travolta attended the film’s intimate premiere in London instead of partaking in a traditional dinner. During the event, he watched ‘The Shepherd’ on a large screen for the first time and participated in a Q&A session with writer and director Iain Softley.

As a licensed pilot himself, Travolta briefly shared his own harrowing experience of a near-plane crash in 1992, which he hadn’t publicly discussed for nearly three decades. Recalling the incident during the Q&A, he disclosed, “I actually experienced a total electrical failure, not in a Vampire but in a corporate jet over Washington D.C.” Travolta emphasized that reading Forsyth’s book resonated even more due to his personal encounter with a similar situation.

Describing the intensity of the moment, Travolta stated, “I knew what it felt like to absolutely think you’re going to die.” He recounted the incident when flying a Gulfstream II from Florida to Maine for Thanksgiving, facing a complete loss of instruments and electrical systems. “I had two good jet engines, but I had no instruments, no electric, nothing. And I thought it was over,” he shared. However, a miraculous descent to a lower altitude and a successful landing, reminiscent of Freddie’s experience in the film, ultimately spared Travolta from disaster.

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