Inside Kelly Preston's Decades-Long Acting Career and Her Best Roles
By Paige Gawley
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Kelly Preston's career spanned multiple genres and decades. The actress and wife of John Travolta died Sunday morning after a battle with breast cancer. She was 57.
In honor of Preston's life and work, ET is taking a look back at the best moments of her career, which began with guest starring roles in many TV shows, including Hawaii Five-O and CHiPs.
In 1985, Preston landed her breakout movie role, starring as Marilyn McCauley in the 1985 flick Mischief. In the rom-com, Preston played the most popular girl in school, who a nerdy student tries to impress with the help of a womanizing new kid. The comedic roles continued through the '80s in films including Secret Admirer, SpaceCamp, and Twins, which she co-starred in alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito.
Preston wrapped up the decade by starring in The Experts, the comedy film where she met and fell for Travolta. While making the project, Preston was married to Kevin Gage, but, during a 2018 appearance on Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen, she admitted it was "kinda" love at first sight with her co-star.
"I was not that happily married, let’s put it that way," she said. "I was really with the wrong person."
After tying the knot with Travolta in 1991, Preston went on to star alongside Patrick Dempsey in the action flick Run (1991), then took a turn toward mystery with Eric Roberts in Love Is a Gun (1994), and staged an epic performance in Jerry Maguire in 1996.
In Jerry Maguire, Preston starred as Avery Bishop, the girlfriend to Tom Cruise's eponymous character. While many remember Preston's performance for the punch she delivers to Cruise after his character breaks up with her, Travolta's memory of the role focused more on his wife's graphic sex scene with the actor.
"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," Travolta said during a 2019 appearance on The Late Late Show With James Corden. "That's awkward. I had no idea."
Preston and Travolta once again shared the screen in the 2000 sci-fi film Battlefield Earth, before Preston took on the role of a free-spirited single-mom to Amanda Bynes' Daphne Reynolds in What a Girl Wants in 2003.
That same year, Preston starred in The Cat in the Hat, and continued with family films into 2005 as a superhero in Sky High.
In 2010, Preston reunited with her husband on-screen in Old Dogs, a Disney family comedy that also starred the late Robin Williams. That same year, Preston played Miley Cyrus' mother in the adaptation of Nicholas Sparks' novel, The Last Song.
Preston's most recent role once again came in a project alongside her husband, with the 2018 flick, Gotti, in which she played Victoria, the wife to infamous mob boss John Gotti (Travolta).
"We have the friendship and we have the rapport, so you can see the intimacy," Preston told ET of her and Travolta in the film. "I looked at him and the way he looked at me was so completely... I felt like I was in John Gotti's arms. It sent chills."
"For us to be in a movie where we're playing other people is so much fun, and that's what we kind of live for -- to have that creative experience together," Travolta added.
Preston is survived by Travolta and their children -- 20-year-old daughter Ella and 9-year-old son Benjamin. The couple's son, Jett, died in 2009 at the age of 16.