Who Else Could Have Played Johnny And Baby? Patrick Swayze Also Reveals How 'Dirty Dancing' Should Have Ended In His Autobiography

Date March 12, 2018

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.

A series of unfortunate events

Dirty Dancing is a 1987 American romantic drama dance film written by Eleanor Bergstein, directed by Emile Ardolino, and starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey in the lead roles. Originally a low-budget film by a new studio, Vestron Pictures, Dirty Dancing became a box office hit.

READ ALSO: Trump’s Immigration Policy: Famous Celebrities Who Are Immigrants

As of 2009, it has earned over $214 million worldwide.The movie would have turned out different but for hands-on producers. Patrick Swayze had to convince Jennifer Grey to be in this film because she had disliked him so much while filming 1984's Red Dawn.

The very famous scene where Johnny and Baby are practicing their dancing, and they are crawling towards each other on the floor wasn't intended to be part of the film; they were just messing around and were warming up to do the real scene. Director Emile Ardolino liked it so much; he kept it in the film. Jennifer Grey, at twenty-seven, was ten years older than the character of Baby.

During her audition, she had five minutes to prove she could play younger, and that she had the moves for the role. Patrick Swayze insisted on doing his own stunts. During the log scene he kept on falling off of the log and injured his knee so severely, he had to have fluid drained from the swelling.

READ ALSO: Top Best Movies About Love And Relationships Women May Like

The famous roles could have been done by others.

Nobody puts Baby in the corner, but Swayze was almost left there. The filmmakers originally wanted a very different star as their leading man.

That particular blond bombshell may have already been a high-flying box office Top Gun, but it's tough to imagine Dirty Dancing with anyone else in the main role.


Billy Zane told TMZ that he had auditioned for the leads. It was reported that Billy had no chemistry with Grey and he couldn't dance. Other possibilities for the leads if Swayze and Grey didn’t bite: Val Kilmer and Sarah Jessica Parker.



Penny and Johnny should have been together.

In The Time of My Life, a memoir he co-authored with his wife shortly before his death in 2009 from pancreatic cancer, Patrick Swayze wrote that he didn’t think the role was a good fit for him. He also wrote:

I felt all along that Johnny should ultimately end up with Penny, as they were so much alike and a more realistic couple than Johnny and Baby. That change got overruled, which was probably for the best. But when some on the set suggested I tone down the dancing with Penny early on, I put my foot down. They were worried that the dance scenes between Johnny and Penny were too sexy, that they would overshadow the later dance scenes between Johnny and Baby. I knew that wasn’t true, based on my audition with Jennifer. There was no doubt we’d be able to create the heat — and we did.

Luckily for the audience, 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.

Let’s put it to a vote: Who should Johnny have ended up with at the end of Dirty Dancing?

READ ALSO: Life Imitates Art In A Brief History Of The “Love Is…” Comic Strip

Patrick Swayze Dancing