Val Kilmer's portrayal of Jim Morrison in the Oliver Stone-directed film, The Doors, is widely regarded as iconic, with even the most dedicated fans of the band acknowledging his impressive transformation into the Lizard King. Despite this, Kilmer was not initially the first choice for the role, as Stone reportedly offered it to Ian Astbury of the Cult, who declined. Other actors such as Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp, Timothy Hutton, Charlie Sheen, Jason Patric, and Richard Gere were also considered for the role. However, one name it seems is missing from this list of known potentials: John Travolta.
The Doors second manager, Danny Sugerman was passionate about seeing the band's biography, No One Here Gets Out Alive, adapted for the screen and was committed to making the film a reality. During an appearance on the Totally 80’s podcast this week, Bebe Buell (rock muse, recording artist and writer), who was also managed by Danny Sugerman at the time, disclosed that Sugerman had actually set his sights on John Travolta for the role of Jim Morrison. As she recounted to host Lyndsey Parker, while visiting Sugerman's home, Bebe saw John Travolta. Curious, she inadvertently witnessed a private meeting - Travolta's unofficial audition for the role of Jim Morrison as he stood on Sugerman’s table and began singing. According to Buell, Travolta's performance was "mind-blowing" as he "channeled Morrison.”
Despite that audition, John Travolta was ultimately not cast. Eventually, director Oliver Stone cast Val Kilmer in the role after seeing him in the fantasy film Willow and being deeply impressed by his eight-minute audition video. John Travolta as Jim Morrison instead is just lore of what may have been.
To hear more about what Bebe Buell saw that day during John’s audition, listen to the latest episode of Totally 80’s with host Lyndsey Parker (Yahoo Music Entertainment Editor) - out now.