Harvey Fierstein Zings John Travolta's Performance In 'Hairspray' Movie

The legendary actor-playwright originated the role of Edna in the musical on Broadway, and Travolta played her in the film.

Harvey Fierstein won a Tony Award for his portrayal of Edna Turnblad in the Broadway musical adaptation of “Hairspray,” but his thoughts on the 2007 movie version are less than glowing. 

In a Tuesday appearance on Bravo’s “Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen,” the legendary actor and playwright was asked what he thought about John Travolta’s somewhat divisive take of Edna in the movie, which also starred Queen Latifah and Zac Efron. 

Fierstein ― who is busy promoting Broadway’s “Torch Song,” a revised version of his 1982 play, “Torch Song Trilogy,” opening Nov. 1 ― admitted he hadn’t seen the movie in full but caught a few glimpses of one of Travolta’s scenes while on a plane. 

He likened the experience to that of Carol Channing watching Barbra Streisand in the 1969 film version of “Hello, Dolly!” To great acclaim in the Broadway version five years earlier, Channing originated the role of Dolly Gallagher Levi, played by Streisand in the poorly received movie musical.

“The longer it went, the happier [Channing] got,” Fierstein quipped. “I was on an airplane, somebody was watching [the movie], and I looked over, and I went, ‘OK.’” 

However, he went on to dismiss the notion that his reluctance to watch the film was indicative of hard feelings toward Travolta for landing a role Fierstein had been so closely identified with onstage. 

“I didn’t watch because it had nothing to do with what I do,” he said, adding that he didn’t watch a recording of his reprised performance as Edna in NBC’s “Hairspray Live!” which aired in 2016. 

Fierstein was less forthcoming about reports that he and Robin Williams were planning to collaborate on a sequel to 1993’s “Mrs. Doubtfire” before the comedian’s 2014 death, saying he couldn’t recall if a follow-up was ever in the works. 

“We talked about different things over the years, but I don’t know,” Fierstein told Cohen.

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