Nobody puts Baby in the corner, but can anybody replace Patrick Swayze?
“Dirty Dancing” icon Jennifer Grey revealed just how “tricky” it is to make a sequel film without her late co-star Swayze, who died at age 57 of pancreatic cancer in September 2009. Swayze portrayed summer retreat dance instructor Johnny Castle, who falls for camp guest Frances “Baby” Houseman while preparing for a dance competition.
“There will never be another Johnny,” Grey told Entertainment Weekly during a 35th-anniversary tribute for the film. “There will never be another Patrick. This sequel has got to be its own standalone piece. It’s very tricky.”
Set in 1963, “Dirty Dancing” was released to rave reviews in 1987; a sequel, slated to take place in the 1990s, was announced earlier this year with “Long Shot” helmer Jonathan Levine directing and co-writing the script that may be “exploring” a reunion with the original cast.
“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,” Grey teased. “Unless there’s a lot of CGI, Baby’s going to be a little older. 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].”
But nothing can top the first film, according to Grey. “What happened happened, and that will never happen again,” she said.
Casting is reportedly underway with production slated for later this year. Grey serves as an executive producer on the sequel. It’s set to film in Spring 2023 with a February 9, 2024 release date. Writer-director Levine previously noted that production is in talks with Swayze’s estate to reference the character Johnny in the sequel.
“Johnny is a part of Baby’s journey in the story,” Levine told Deadline. “This film exists in a dialogue with the original. We want to introduce this story to a whole new generation. That said, Johnny’s absence looms large over the story, so it’s a coming-of-age story but also a coming-of-age for Baby’s character in a way.”
Swayze would have turned 70 on August 18 this year.
The “Dirty Dancing” follow-up is expected to include songs from the original film, as well as ’90s hip-hop and pop. Levine, who also serves as producer, teased that Alanis Morisette and Liz Phair songs will be featured.
“I can’t wait to collaborate with Jennifer to bring this beautiful story of summer and romance and dancing to a generation of new fans,” Levine said of the coming-of-age romance story. “And to the longtime ones, I promise we will not ruin your childhood. We will tackle the assignment with sophistication, ambition, and, above all, love.”