One does not simply act opposite Delta Goodrem.
The ‘Olivia’ series is dense with iconic hairdos: Raggedy curls, shaggy bowl cuts, Delta Goodrem’s blonde buzz, George Xanthis’ glorious pompadour. Their hair is our constant reminder that this show takes place in a decade of mullets and too much hairspray — but for John Travolta, hair is also a tool for communicating story, for revealing key character information and hidden ’60s references. Ahead, Xanthis, who plays the retro character, talks us through some of the most important moments behind Olivia.
The young actor grew up in a world where John Travolta’s Danny Zuko was an almost instantly iconic creation, a character pop culture embraced with open arms from the moment Travolta debuted him in the Grease film in 1978. Now, George is the star of the upcoming biopic.
If you ever wanted to know how to get cast as the ‘60s heartthrob with a wild mullet and a cool belt in Rydell High, look no further than Xanthis’ character. “I’ve watched the film a million times,” he gushes. “Over the years I’ve starred in comedies and drama is a genre I adore. It’s easier to make someone cry then laugh.”
Soon, Xanthis will make quite the impression as Danny Zuko — “Being Travolta, you don’t walk on-set with an American accent,” George says. “There was a lot of research involved and interviews to watch. John is an amazing sport, and he’s someone so withdrawn but also an enormous fan of Olivia Newton-John.”
Xanthis admits, “When Travolta snagged the role of Danny, the only thing he asked for was, ‘Please, please, can we have Olivia as the lead?’ and the producers were like, ‘But she doesn’t have an American accent,’ then John replies ‘that’s fine, no matter!’”
We can easily see George walking on-set like an Adonis with more and more volume: His hair would just stand straight up into the air. But still, he’s getting a cooler, relaxed look with more movement.
Speaking of relaxed: “Delta Goodrem, who plays Olivia, was beyond welcoming. She’s the type of actor who wants to get everything right the first time,” Xanthis says.
“We were always holding hands throughout filming —why you ask? Because that’s what Olivia and John did,” George laughs. “Don’t worry, they’re just friends.”
Honestly, bless Olivia Newton-John’s Australian heart for releasing this to the world.