Why Jennifer Grey Turned Down A Role In The Dirty Dancing Remake

dirty dancing jennifer gray

ABC made a bold move when it decided to produce a remake of the the classic Dirty Dancing. A version of Baby Houseman and Johnny Castle not starring Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze feels a little bit like sacrilege, but the remake is accumulating a pretty promising cast to bring the new Dirty Dancing to the small screen. As it turns out, Jennifer Grey was offered a role in the special, but she declined for one big reason. Grey has this to say about why she chose not to take part in the Dirty Dancing remake:

I was asked to do something on that show and I was flattered because I always want to be asked because it's nice to want to be included. But for me, it would be sacrosanct for me to do it because it didn't feel appropriate to me. It feels like if you're going to do your own thing, do your own thing.

Jennifer Grey explained why she won't appear in the Dirty Dancing remake in a chat with THR, and it's hard to blame her for passing on whatever part she was offered. She owned the lead role in an oft-quoted film that is still beloved nearly twenty years after its original premiere back in 1987. If she wasn't playing Baby opposite Patrick Swayze's Johnny, she might not have been a good fit for any production of Dirty Dancing. Even a cameo from Grey could overshadow some of the younger actors in the remake, if not the entire shebang.

Comparisons between the original cast and the newcomers will be inevitable anyway; an appearance from Grey might just work as a reminder of the greatness of the original film. The cameos from original Grease actors Didi Conn and Barry Pearl in Fox's Grease: Live worked well enough without pulling focus from the new cast; Olivia Newton John or John Travolta showing up would have been a different story. The Dirty Dancing remake could work better without a Jennifer Grey appearance.

I have to wonder how the remake would have brought in Jennifer Grey. She could have worked as Baby's mother Marjorie, and she would have been the right age to tackle the role of bungalow bunny Vivian, but those would be fairly big roles. It's possible that a new character would have been written for her. A new character would have certainly made it easier for the remake to get in some winks and nods to the audience about the former Baby turning up on screen. It's difficult to imagine that Grey could possibly be approached for the remake if the folks behind the scenes didn't have plans for some callbacks to the original.

Personally, I was a bit bummed at first to find out that Jennifer Grey won't be showing up in the Dirty Dancing remake. I love the original movie (and the soundtrack), so Baby 1.0 appearing might have helped the remake feel less sacrilegious to me. Still, I might be able to enjoy it more if I don't have a reminder of the classic on screen in front of me.

ABC has not yet set a release date for the Dirty Dancing remake. You can check out our fall TV premiere schedule to see what you'll be able to watch on the small screen in the meantime.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).