It’s one of the greatest rom-com moments of all time, complete with the oft-quoted line. The love-hate relationship between Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Gray on screen is part of what makes the film such a highly regarded romantic success. But by now it’s also well known that the two actors started off on the wrong foot and continued to butt heads throughout the shoot. They had previously starred together in 1984’s Red Dawn and the actress was so horrified by her behavior on set that she tried to block her from participating in Dirty Dancing. Things didn’t get any better with Swayze’s belief that Johnny shouldn’t end up with Baby.
Gray told The View about his problems with Red Dawn: “Patrick was pulling pranks on me and everyone, and late, and everyone’s boss. He was like a macho and I couldn’t take it. I was like, ‘Please, this dude, that’s enough with him. So when they said, ‘How about Patrick for the (Dirty Dancing) movie?’ I said, ‘Oh no, no, no’.”
Early last year, she revealed that when Swayze was brought in for a screen test with her, he apparently knew he needed to clear the air because she was strongly opposed to him starring opposite her again.
Gray said, “He took me down the aisle and said, ‘I love you, I love you and I’m so sorry. And I know you don’t want me to do the movie.'”
Their screen tests together convinced the producers to cast Swayze. Gray tried to brush aside his reservations, but the set was in an uproar over his strained relationship.
Lonny Price, who played sleazy Neil Kellerman, son of the holiday park owner, said: “When I first got on set, there was a lot of talk about them not getting along.”
Swayze had previously spoken about their time together and their personality clash in his autobiography, The Time of My Life.
He wrote: “She seemed particularly emotional, sometimes bursting into tears if someone criticized her. Other times, she would be in a bad mood, forcing us to do scenes over and over again when she started laughing… She didn’t have much patience for doing multiple iterations.” “.
Gray was also terrified of risqué lifts and hated the perfectionist Swayze’s insistence on multiple takes. It didn’t help that Swayze was also in considerable physical pain during most of the now-iconic dance scenes (including ending up in the hospital), due to a recurring injury from his dance days.
In her autobiography, The Time of My Life (also written with Lisa), she said, “Whether it’s rewriting scripts or perfecting my performance, she and I have worked together on every movie I’ve ever done; she has an incredible ear for dialogue.” . She, she has a great sense of history and she knows how to focus on performance.
“More importantly, she’s absolutely sincere, even if it’s something I don’t want to hear.”
They worked hard on Dirty Dancing, inserting the scene where Johnny has a fight with the sleazy waiter and spending the whole night polishing up his big final speech. Tall, blonde, and slender, Lisa also bore a striking resemblance to actress-dancer Cynthia Rhodes, who played Johnny’s professional dance partner Penny, a role Swayze hoped Lisa could take on.
Swayze said, “I always felt that Johnny should finally end up with Penny, as they were so much more alike and a more realistic couple than Johnny and Baby.”
This time, however, he didn’t get his way: “That change was overturned, which was probably for the best.”
He probably had a very good point, but rom-coms have never succeeded in realism. And they almost never have to show what happened after the grand finale of the fairy tale. Swayze apparently turned down $1 million to make a sequel.
The actor died in 2009, but Gray will return as Baby in a sequel from director Jonathan Levine, who confirmed that Swayze, who died in 2009, will also appear in some capacity.
He said: “Johnny is part of Baby’s journey in the story. This film exists in dialogue with the original. We want to introduce this story to a whole new generation. That being said, Johnny’s absence looms large in the story, So it’s a coming-of-age story, but also a coming-of-age for Baby’s character in a way.”
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