Dirty Dancing: The truth about Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey’s complicated relationship

13 July 2021, 14:40 | Updated: 19 April 2022, 15:46

Smooth's Untold Stories: Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey's complicated relationship

By Naomi Bartram

Did Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze get on during Dirty Dancing? Find out the secret behind their chemistry...

If you’ve seen Dirty Dancing, you’ll have witnessed the undeniable chemistry between Johnny and Baby.

But while Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey look incredible together on screen, it turns out things weren’t always so friendly behind the scenes.

So, what happened between Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey on the set of Dirty Dancing? Here’s what we know…

QUIZ: How well do you remember Dirty Dancing?

Starring together in Red Dawn

Before they starred in Dirty Dancing, Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey worked alongside each other in the action film Red Dawn.

Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey didn't always get on
Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey didn't always get on. Picture: Alamy
Patrick and Jennifer starred together in a film before Dirty Dancing
Patrick and Jennifer starred together in a film before Dirty Dancing. Picture: Alamy

The movie follows a group of teenagers who form a guerilla army when World War III breaks out in the US.

Before filming, the cast had to take part in eight weeks of military training to get in character, where it’s reported Swayze method acted as the tough leader.

Not breaking character the whole time, Swayze reportedly ordered everyone around, which irritated Grey.

When Jennifer was auditioning for the role in Dirty Dancing, she was said to be hesitant to do a screen test alongside Patrick.

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‘No spark’

Grey previously said how she thought there would be no spark between her and Swayze.

“I didn’t think we had chemistry,” she told Glamour.

Patrick Swayze had to teach Jennifer Grey dance steps
Patrick Swayze had to teach Jennifer Grey dance steps. Picture: Alamy

“But you either do or you don’t. It’s a weird thing. It doesn’t have to do with whether you like someone or not. It’s just you either have it or you don’t.”

After the pair did a screen test where Patrick lifted Jennifer above his head in the iconic dance move, they realised they had amazing chemistry.

Vintage footage of Patrick Swayze 'dirty dancing' with his wife Lisa Niemi is sensational

Frustrations during filming

The pair are said to have got along fine during filming, but were never best friends.

The director previously said there was some tension because Swayze was a trained dancer and would become easily frustrated while trying to teach Grey how to do the steps.

And there’s another moment which caused friction between the pair: when Patrick runs his hand down Jennifer’s arm and she bursts out laughing.

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Well, the pair actually filmed that scene over 20 times but Grey kept getting the giggles, which is said to have irritated Swayze.

The director gave up in the end and decided to just leave the sweet moment in the film.

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Respect for one another

While the pair had a complicated dynamic, they were always respectful when speaking about one another.

Grey has previously credited Swayze for helping her take on the tricky dance moves, saying: "He was really strong and he was very protective and his heart was very much in it.

"He smelled really good, his skin was really nice.”

Before he passed away in 2009, Swayze also spoke about their partnership, saying: “One thing that worked beautifully was that it really was a teaching situation."

He also called her "one of the most gifted actresses around in terms of her ability to be present in the moment right now".