It’s hard to believe that the Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Gray classic turns 30 this year. The iconic film captured the hearts (and hip movements) of every teen in the ‘80s and remains a classic decades later. While most Dirty Dancing fans who have watched the movie tons of times feel like they know the film, there are a lot of things that took place on and off the set that even most diehard fans don’t even know. Here are 10 interesting and funny facts about the film, Dirty Dancing.
Val Kilmer Almost Played Johnny, Sarah Jessica Park Almost Played Baby
It’s pretty hard to imagine anyone besides Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey in the starring roles, but surprisingly, they weren’t the first choice. Numerous pairings were considered to play the leads. The role of Johnny Castile was originally supposed to go to Val Kilmer, but he turned it down. Billy Zane was also considered, but he wasn’t a fantastic dancer. Grey could have lost the role of Baby Houseman to Sarah Jessica Parker or Sharon Stone, who both reportedly tried out for the part.
A Number of Scenes Were Improvised
Some of the scenes in the movie were made on the spot. Swayze and Grey were just fooling around when they were crawling around on the floor, getting ready to shoot the scene. However, director Emile Ardolino liked it so much that he used the footage for the film.
In the scene where Baby and Johnny are rehearsing and he runs his hand down her arm, Gray couldn’t keep from laughing because she was ticklish. The frustration you see on Johnny’s face in Swayze’s real frustration with the scene.
“Tons of things were improvised,” the late Swayze said in a featurette for the movie. “When I’m teaching Gray and I’m getting frustrated, trying to get her to be serious, and she’s laughing or giggling the moment I run my hand down her arm – that really is me getting frustrated, like, ‘Would you just stop?’”
In the end, that scene was left in and recognized as one of the most honest moments in the film. Guess you never know what you’re going to get when you keep the camera rolling on two good actors.
Both Leads Were 10 Years Older Than Their Characters
Gray was 27 when she was cast as the 17-year-old and had just a few minutes to convince casting directors that she could play younger. Swayze was 34 when he was cast to play the 24-year-old Johnny.
The Set Was One Giant Party
On-set, the atmosphere was like one giant disco. Rehearsals quickly became big dance parties, whereby practically every cast member got involved in their epic dance and drink sessions. These made for excellent bonding exercises and eased everyone into character.
The Filming Schedule Was Tight
The filming schedule was so tight that the cast were only permitted two weeks of rehearsals which isn’t long at all. The entire shoot only lasted 44 days from start to finish, which is a really quick turnaround for making a Hollywood movie.
The Trees Were Spray Painted
Production on the film took place during autumn, so leaves in the background were sprayed green. The film takes place during the summer, but was actually shot during mid-October so set directors had to spray paint the leaves green to hide that the season was changing and dead leaves were all around.
In the scene where Baby and Johnny are dancing in the water, it was freezing and the leaves were fall-covered and falling from the trees. While the trees were spray-painted, you can still the leaves falling to the ground, which simply doesn’t happen in the summertime.
The lake was also 40 degrees at that time of year, so cold that no close-ups could be filmed because the actors lips turned blue. Swayze described the shooting process: “It was horrifyingly, hypothermically cold in that lake, and we filmed that scene over and over. And despite the fact that Jennifer was very light, when you’re lifting someone in the water, take after take after take, even the skinniest girl can fell like 500 pounds. By the time we finished shooting that sequence, my arms were like rubber, my body temperature had plunged.”
Swayze Didn’t Want to Be in a Sequel
The star, who died in 2009 after a battle with pancreatic cancer, was reportedly offered $6 million to do a sequel but said no, because he hated the general idea of them so much.
The Movie Scored an Oscar
It’s true. Despite Dirty Dancing being a romcom – a genre that tends to be overlooked by the Academy, it must be said – it won a gold statue. Not in one of the perceived “biggie” categories admittedly, but it took home the award for Best Music, Original Song for “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life,” and rightfully so. The music in the film was everything. The soundtrack has gone platinum 11 times in the U.S., on the way to selling more than 32 million copies worldwide.
One of the Most Iconic Lines in the Film Almost Didn’t Make the Final Cut
“Nobody puts Baby in the corner” is one of the most quoted lines in cinematic history, but Swayze tried to get it taken out of the film because he disliked it so much. Later on, Swayze admitted that the line worked once he saw the film in its entirety. When he was battling cancer near the end of his life, he claimed to assure friends, “Nobody puts Patrick’s pancreas in a corner.”
Grey Almost Missed the Film’s 1987 Premiere
Twelve days before the big premiere, the actress was involved in a car accident with then boyfriend Matthew Broderick, which left two people dead in Ireland. “I’m feeling so happy to be here and to be alive and to be healthy,” Grey told ET on the red carpet at the premiere.
Dirty Dancing grossed just under $214 million, on top of winning an Oscar and multiple Grammys for the music. The soundtrack even beat Michael Jackson and Bruce Springsteen on the charts. Nobody puts Dirty Dancing in a corner, and that’s why today it’s still regarded as one of the greatest films of all time.