Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey are now indelibly linked to Dirty Dancing, and their roles as Johnny Castle and Baby Houseman are perhaps the ones for which they are best known. But that pitch-perfect casting almost didn’t happen. In The Time of My Life, a memoir he co-authored with his wife shortly before his 2009 death from pancreatic cancer, Patrick Swayze wrote that he didn’t think the role was a good fit for him. Swayze was trained as a dancer and his first movie role was in Skatetown USA, a 1979 film in which he did a roller-skating disco dance. Critics used the scene to compare him to John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever; despite the positive reviews of his shirtless-dancing skills, the actor was nervous that he would get pigeonholed in dance roles. Luckily for audiences he decided that there was something different about that script, something relatable in the character and something special in his chemistry with Jennifer Grey (even though he would later write in his memoir that the two did not always get along). Other possibilities for the leads if Swayze and Grey didn’t bite: Billy Zane, Val Kilmer and Sarah Jessica Parker.
Top 10 Things You Didn't Know About 'Dirty Dancing'
- Dirty Dancing, By the Numbers
- The Dancing Cast Could Have Been Very Different
- That’s Not the Catskills
- The Real-Life Baby’s Name is Jackie, Not Frances
- A Chance Dance
- The Shoot Wasn’t All a Party
- More Like Not-Quite-As-Dirty Dancing
- The Music That Made Them Dance
- Conan O’Brien Might Be the Movie’s Biggest Fan
- Dirty Dancing Lives On