Jennifer Grey had ‘enough’ of Patrick Swayze and his ‘macho’ antics, then she was ‘done’

Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze – as passionate lovers and dance partners in Dirty Dancing – are legendary in Hollywood’s romantic lore.

The undeniable chemistry shared between Swayze and Grey in the 1987 blockbuster, which had everyone learning the mambo, captivated audiences worldwide and immortalized them as cinematic icons.

But, in their earlier days, the relationship they shared off-screen wasn’t as magnetic as their roles in the film might suggest. Keep reading to learn why Grey, who turns 64 March 26, was hesitant to work with the Hollywood heartthrob in the film that’s adored by generations!!

Though the late Patrick Swayze carved a successful career beyond the 1987 hit film Dirty Dancing, he’ll always be adored as Johnny Castle, the handsome dance instructor with the breathtaking moves at Kellerman’s, an upscale Catskills resort.

The timeless classic shares the story of a privileged young girl Frances “Baby” Houseman, who falls in love with the rugged yet smooth Johnny Castle, a dancer who’s struggling to make ends meet.

Reflecting on Dirty Dancing’s enduring popularity, Grey told People: “its appeal was that it was very genuine and simple.” She continues, “It was about innocence and the way that innocence is lost and how people explode into a different iteration of themselves.”

Annoyed by his antics

Discussing her relationship with Swayze before Dirty Dancing, Grey said she was hesitant to work with her co-star from the 1984 film Red Dawn.

“I didn’t think we had chemistry,” she told Glamour in 2015. “I was cast before [Swayze] was. He came in [to test] along with a bunch of other guys. I didn’t think we had chemistry. But you either do or you don’t. It’s a weird thing, though. It doesn’t have to do with whether you like someone or not. It’s just you either have it or you don’t.”

Credit: Shutterstock

Years later, the star of Ferris Bueller’s Day off shared with People the real reason behind her uncertainty to star in another film with the beloved actor, who was 57 when he tragically died of pancreatic cancer in 2009.

“Patrick was playing pranks on me and everybody,” Grey, now 63, said in 2022. “It was just, like, macho, and I just couldn’t take it. I was just like, ‘Please, this guy, that’s enough with him.’”

And despite the Road House star being a trained, experienced dancer, she did not want to work with him in Dirty Dancing.

But, during the screen test, she recalled that: “He pulled me down the hall and said to me, ‘I love you, I love you and I’m so sorry. And I know you don’t want me to do the movie.’”

She added: “And he got the tears in his eyes. And I got the tears in my eyes – not for the same reason. I was like, ‘Oh, this guy’s working me.’ And he goes, ‘We could kill it – we could kill it if we did this.’”

They killed it.

“We go in there and he takes me in his arms and I was like, ‘Oh, boy. I’m done,’” Grey said. “There was no competition. He was, like, the easy chair I’d been dreaming of my whole life.”

Trusting relationship

Recently, speaking with E! News Grey reflected on the iconic dance lift, saying no one should ever try the tricky feat without the late Swayze, the star of Ghost.

“Patrick is the only one who really anyone should try it with, because he was just such a good ballet dancer” Grey said January 24, 2024. “He was so used to lifting women and so strong. By the end of the movie, I trusted him so much.”

In fact, the lift was so nerve-wracking to her than she gave a “hard no” to practicing the move off camera. And the first time Swayze effortlessly lifted her over his head, was in the iconic lake scene.

“I never rehearsed it…There was no room for a panic attack.” Said the actor, joking that she had “no choice” but to follow through when the cameras were rolling. “It was one of those game day things.”

‘Nobody puts Baby in a corner’

In her autobiography, Out of the Corner, Grey candidly reflects on her relationship with Swayze and offers a poignant glimpse into the complexities of their on-screen partnership and off-screen dynamic. While they may not have been a natural match, their mutual dedication to their craft, and their magnetic connection contributed to the paramount success of Dirty Dancing.

Credit: Jon Kopaloff / FilmMagic / Getty.

Reflecting on their dynamic, Grey expressed regret for not fully appreciating who Swayze was at the time. She wrote: “I’m deeply sorry that I couldn’t fully appreciate and embrace who you were, instead of wishing you were someone else.”

She described the late heartthrob as strong, protective, and incredibly dedicated to his craft. And of course, she couldn’t resist mentioning how great he smelled and how nice his skin felt.


In 2020, Lionsgate announced a sequel to Dirty Dancing, with Grey reprising her role as Baby. Being tight-lipped over the new production, Grey has said very little about the film, only sharing it’s impossible to recreate the magic her character shared with Swayze in the original.

“All I can say is there is no replacing anyone who’s passed,” she told People. “You never try to repeat anything that’s magic like that. You just go for something different.”

The follow-up film, that’s been in the works a few years, is scheduled for release sometime in 2024.

“I know in my heart, I would love to give fans or a young, new audience an experience that would never replicate [the original], but has the same kind of underpinnings,” said Grey, who also serves as the film’s executive producer.

“Today people think that their identity is limited, the world has told them what it is. But there are certain people who can see other parts of you.”

She added: “Dirty Dancing was a fairy tale, a successful movie and formula, using dance as a metaphor for embodying your energy and getting out of your head.”

Happy 64th birthday to Jennifer Grey! Please make sure you share this story and spread some birthday love to this iconic actor! It really is hard to imagine Dirty Dancing without Patrick Swayze! What do you think about a sequel?


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