updated 03/08/2010 AT 1:40 PM ET
•originally published 03/08/2010 AT 1:55 PM ET
John Travolta put on a brave face when he appeared at the Academy Awards on Sunday – but the star says he’s still in mourning over the death of his son Jett last year.
“We are working hard on healing, still,” Travolta, 56, told PEOPLE at the Governor’s Ball after the Oscars Sunday night. “It’s going to be a lifelong project. Everybody has been so enormously supportive and I really appreciate it.”
Jett was 16 when he died of a seizure at the family’s home in the Bahamas in January of 2009.
Travolta’s Wild Hogs costar Tim Allen says his pal is coping well. “He is doing really well, I mean, healing as best he can,” Allen told PEOPLE at the Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Award Viewing Party. “He is pushing through a very tough situation.”
On a lighter note, Travolta said his wife Kelly Preston, who stayed home and watched the show, was the one who suggested he dress in denim for the Academy Awards.
“I didn’t like how my tux pants were fitting, and my wife said to me, ‘Why don’t you wear jeans?’ ” he told PEOPLE. “She said, ‘You’ll be comfortable, they look good on you.’ ”
Reporting by SHAYNA ROSE ARNOLD and NICHOLAS WHITE