Behind the Scenes of a Classic: Dirty Dancing
Although it’s hard to believe, Dirty Dancing is turning 30 today! To celebrate, let’s go back in time and have a look behind the scenes to discover what made the movie a classic for generations, from Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze’s undeniable, amazing chemistry to the many challenges that made the 1987 film so unique.
Without further ado, here are 10 things you probably didn’t know about one of your favorite romantic movies…
1 – Patrick Swayze almost didn’t get the role of Johnny because of Jennifer Grey
It’s a known fact that there was some tensions between Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze during the filming of Dirty Dancing. And Grey’s dislike for Swayze almost prevented him from getting the leading role. Both actors had already exchanged some lines for the movie Red Dawn (1984), an experience that Jennifer Grey really didn’t enjoy at all. While she had already been cast as Baby, Patrick Swayze had to talk her out of her fear of working with him again in order to get the role of Johnny. And thank God he did!
2 – Despite their feelings toward each other, the chemistry was real
Although Grey was convinced it won’t work between the 2 of them, the casting crew was sure the actors were perfect for the roles after they made them pass some screen tests together. To get an idea, they asked Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze to perform the dance that would actually become part of the love scene of the movie. The result is pretty obvious, don’t you think?
3 – Some scenes in the movie are not acted at all
One of the reasons why Jennifer Grey didn’t feel comfortable around Patrick Swayze was that he was fearless, while she was “afraid of trying anything”, which led the duo to have a similar dynamic as Johnny and Baby’s. Grey would often laugh and giggle when she felt nervous, while Swayze was an experienced dancer and had no patience for multiple takes. In the ‘Hungry Eyes‘ rehearsal sequence, the scenes when Johnny runs his arm down Baby’s are the perfect example of what happened on the set on a daily basis. Fortunately, this time the director, Emile Ardolino, thought the takes captured the essence of their relationship perfectly and kept them in the movie.
4 – Patrick Swayze was also a singer
The song ‘She’s Like The Wind’ was co-written and sung by Patrick Swayze. He also later co-wrote and performed 2 songs for the movie Road House and another one for the film Next of Kin. Here’s the official video clip:
5 – Val Kilmer was offered the lead role first
Val Kilmer was offered to role of Johnny but declined it in fear of being type cast. Billy Zane also almost got the role but was turned down because he wasn’t a very good dancer. Not sure which one of them has the most regrets today…
6 – Patrick Swayze hated that famous line
The actor could hardly bring himself to say “Nobody puts baby in a corner” during the shooting of the final scenes because he thought it sounded too corny. But what could have been a total disaster actually became the most quoted line of the film. Something that Swayze confirmed was working in the end in his autobiography, ‘The Time Of My Life‘.
7 – From 27 to 17
Jennifer Grey was 27 when she auditioned for the role of Baby, who was 17 in the script. Not convinced about her ability to play a character who’s 10 years younger than her, the producers gave the actress exactly 5 minutes to prove she could do it.
8 – The scene when Baby and Johnny goof around is real
If the scene when the couple has fun dancing on the floor on the song ‘Love is Strange’ seemed so genuine it’s because it was! Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze where actually only warming up for the real scene they were about to shoot. The director loved it so much he kept it just the way it was.
9 – Despite everything, they still had a lot of fun on-set
Just check out the film’s bloopers for proof:
10 – Dirty Dancing weekends in Pembroke
The Mountain Lake Lodge in Prembroke, VA, where many scenes of the movie have been filmed, didn’t hesitate to surf on the film’s popularity by organizing Dirty Dancing-themed weekends full of activities related to the production, including full itinerary of the movie tours, dance lessons, Saturday night party, a screening of the film, a watermelon toss, and even a Dirty Dancing scavenger hunt! Interested? Have a look for yourself, here.