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Jennifer Grey Explains Why Losing Patrick Swayze Makes The New Dirty Dancing ‘Very Tricky’

Patrick Swayne and Jennifer Grey kissing in Dirty Dancing
(Image credit: Vestron Pictures)

Following Dirty Dancing getting a prequel in the form of 2006’s Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, as well as being remade in 2017 as a critically-underwhelming ABC TV movie, the 1987 original is getting a direct sequel all these years later. Shortly after rumors of another Dirty Dancing movie started circulating, Dirty Dancing 2 was officially confirmed in 2020, although sadly Jennifer Grey will not be accompanied by Patrick Swayze this time around because he passed away in 2009. To that end, Grey has addressed why losing Swayze makes tackling the new Dirty Dancing movie “very tricky.”

While talking about her experience on Dirty Dancing with EW to commemorate the movie’s 35th anniversary, Jennifer Grey briefly chatted with EW about Dirty Dancing 2. Along with confirming the upcoming movie’s script is being worked on and that shooting will kick off in spring 2023, Grey addressed how the sequel will feel both familiar, but also need to stand on its own, which is especially key because Patrick Swayze is no longer with us. Grey explained:

 I can’t tell you much, sadly, but I will tell you that it will involve Baby. It will involve Kellerman’s. There will be music. Unless there’s a lot of CGI, Baby’s going to be a little older. [Laughs] It’s going to be Kellerman’s, music, dancing, love story, romance. I’m just so super committed and invested in making it a fresh [take]. What happened happened, and that will never happen again. There will never be another Johnny. There will never be another Patrick. This sequel has got to be its own standalone piece. It’s very tricky.

The original Dirty Dancing followed the story of Jennifer Grey’s Frances “Baby” Houseman, a young woman who goes vacationing with her family at Ketterman’s in the summer of 1963 and meets Patrick Swayze’s Johnny Castle, a dance instructor at the resort. Baby takes over as Johnny’s dance partner for a performance, and as they practice their choreography, the two fall in love. Spoiler warning for a 35-year-old movie, but the story concludes with Baby and Johnny nailing their climactic lift (which Grey refused to until the day that scene was shot) in the performance and then dancing with everyone else at Kellerman’s while "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" played.

If Patrick Swayze were still alive, I imagine Dirty Dancing 2 would have either shown us that either Baby and Johnny were still together all these decades later, or the story would have depicted these two reuniting after their original relationship didn’t work out. Unfortunately, we won’t be seeing Swayze and Grey together again, and Johnny Castle understandably won’t be recast for Dirty Dancing 2. So yes, Grey and the other people behind the sequel are threading a fine line between honoring what came before and making sure this new movie is worthy enough to stand on its own merits. Fingers crossed they accomplish this goal.

Outside of the above details Jennifer Grey provided, Dirty Dancing 2’s plot is shrouded in secrecy, but behind the scenes, Long Shot’s Jonathan Levine is directing the feature. The sequel is set to come out on February 9, 2024, but if you’re curious about what movies will be arriving sooner than that, take a look at the slated 2023 movie releases.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.