Author-journalist-screenwriter Aaron Latham, quoted in Blake Harris‘s Slashfilm oral history piece (10.16) about the making of James Bridges’ Urban Cowboy (’80): “Debra Winger came out of the whole method tradition. She wanted to live the role. Like she would go shopping as her character. So, of course, she wanted John Travolta to really fall in love, to really have an affair. But John would have none of it. He has a different approach. He believes that acting is a craft or maybe an art. It’s something you do. It’s not method.
“For example, during the making of the movie, everybody in the cast and crew sort of started adopting, piece by piece, rodeo gear to wear. Except Travolta. Who always wore his green tennis shoes and his t-shirts and never once — outside the movie — did he wear cowboy clothes. But what he did do, was he’d hang out a lot with the cowboys. We had kind of a little company of real Gilley’s regulars who appeared in small roles in the film and John liked to hang out with them and go home and have dinner with their families. So he would do research. [Where] Debra wanted to live it, he wanted to observe it. And I guess he had some rule with himself that he wouldn’t date people he was working with. I don’t know.
“But as soon as we finished filming John started dating Debra and wearing nothing but cowboy clothes. I remember Debra calls me really excited one night. She says, ‘Aaron, Aaron, I just made love with John Travolta on the hood of his Rolls Royce in a restaurant parking lot.’ And then another night she calls and says, ‘John Travolta just asked me to marry him.’ I asked her ‘What did you say?’ And she says, ‘I told him the movie’s over.'”
That image of Travolta and Winger in a restaurant parking lot will never leave my head. And on the hood of a Roll’s Royce yet! That’s what love affairs can be like in the first crazy stage.