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Dirty Dancing’s Jennifer Grey Explains Why She Refused To Do Her Iconic Lift With Patrick Swayze Until The Day It Was Filmed

Dirty Dancing is a movie that teaches audiences what physical chemistry looks like between two people – the way that two bodies can be in sync with each other through the beautiful expression of dancing. We remember the film for the insane spark between actors Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze, the quotable “No one puts Baby in a corner,” and the infamous lift scene. Believe it or not, however, Grey actually refused to do the iconic lift with Swayze until the day it was filmed.

In the final scene of Dirty Dancing, the characters of Johnny and Baby share a steamy dance in front of everyone at Kellerman’s resort, ending with Johnny climatically lifting Baby. Dirty Dancing’s Jennifer Grey has been spilling out a lot of secrets about her time in Hollywood with her new memoir Out of the Corner. She shared one of the book’s revelations during an appearance on The Drew Barrymore Show, telling the titular host that she was scared of performing the scene right up until it was shot. Said Grey, 

I did not do it 'til the day we shot it. Oh no. I feel like it must have been making the producers, and Patrick and the director, everyone insane because I refused. I was too scared, I refused and I basically just couldn't do it. I couldn't make myself until the day when all the people were watching and then I had to do it.

According to Insider, the iconic 80’s star writes in her memoir about the intense fear she had doing that one move. Jennifer Grey practiced the lift twice and finally did the move once. While Patrick Swayze would reassure her that he was a reliable partner, it still didn’t stop her fear from setting in. 

What she was most afraid of is probably pretty obvious: that paralysis, some broken bones, or even sudden death could occur if this move was done wrong. When re-watching the scene, you would never know how scared Jennifer Grey was undertaking this challenging dance move.

Luckily, the lift ended up being a success – so much so that fans clearly have felt more confident than Grey about mastering this iconic scene themselves. If you must try this at home, I recommend picking a partner you trust wholeheartedly… and a have a net hanging just in case.

Jennifer Grey has dated Hollywood hunks like her Ferris Bueller’s Day Off co-star Matthew Broderick and she even had a relationship with Johnny Depp. However, one of those hunks was not Patrick Swayze. The Dirty Dancing star spoke to People and said that she and the Ghost hunk were not a natural match with each other, which caused tension being forced to portray being in love for a movie. 

They didn’t even get along when they were both in 1984’s Red Dawn three years before. Sadly, Grey told People she wishes she could apologize to the late actor, who passed away at age 57, for her past treatment of him. It’s a tragic feeling when you wish for a second chance.

It may be 35 years since Dirty Dancing first entered our screens and hearts, but people of this generation have a chance to see the magic continue. The sequel to Dirty Dancing has been confirmed with Jennifer Grey coming back in her memorable role as Baby. The death of Patrick Swayze clearly means that Grey will need a new leading man. At the end of The Drew Barrymore Show episode, the 62-year-old actress jokingly hoped that Harry Styles could be the one.

While Styles may be a bit inappropriate choice to be Jennifer Grey’s leading man, maybe the former One Direction singer could have a leading lady of his own for the film? Guess we’ll see what the sequel has in store for us.

You can currently watch Dirty Dancing with a HBO Max subscription as well as read Jennifer Grey’s memoir Out of the Corner (opens in new tab), which is on sale now. 

Carly Levy
Carly Levy

Just your average South Floridian cinephile who believes the pen is mightier than the sword.