Jennifer Grey Speaks on How ‘Dirty Dancing’ Tackled Controversial Issues on Film’s 35th Anniversary

by Samantha Whidden

As Dirty Dancing fans celebrate the film’s 35th anniversary, Jennifer Grey speaks about how the cult classic tackled controversial issues. 

While speaking to Entertainment Weekly, the Dirty Dancing star shared details about having to carry a watermelon. “We were writing about abortion and illegal abortion. The movie is a period piece, so it takes place in 1963 and we were shooting it in the late eighties. It’s a very unusual trope, it’s not your usual device used in a lot of rom-coms, right? It’s pretty heavy duty.”

Grey then said that she’s now the person responsible for the Dirty Dancing story right now. This is because she’s maybe one of the last living people who starred in the film. “I don’t want to have nothing to say when I’m asked,” she explained. “And I don’t want to be bored, because I think that’s a wasted moment. So when I think, ‘Well, what is there here?’ And then I just start to go deeper. And I realized the movie is giving me more, the more I ask of it.”

While speaking about screenwriter Eleanor Bergstein saying she received some pushback for including Penny’s botched abortion in the script, Grey said she had no memory of that. “I was looking at it just from the standpoint of an actor — how to find the through line of a character. What Eleanor gave us was this very deep scaffolding. It’s a feminist movie, but it’s very stealth. It’s got stakes that are high, and it’s talking about social justice, and they’re dealing with class issues, with the haves and the have-nots.”

Jennifer Grey Says the Next ‘Dirty Dancing’ Film Will Involve Baby 

When asked if she knows anything about the “next chapter” of Dirty Dancing, Jennifer Grey mentions that her character Baby will be involved. 

“I  can’t tell you much, sadly, but I will tell you that it will involve Baby,” Grey declared. “It will involve Kellerman’s. There will be music. Unless there’s a lot of CGI, Baby’s going to be a little older.”

However, Grey admits there will never be another Johnny, who was played by the late Patrick Swayze. “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.”

As she spoke about the upcoming film, Grey stated there is indeed a script. “There’s a script, we’re working on the script. We’re going to shoot it in the spring of 2023, and it comes out on Feb. 9, 2024. So, I guess it’s happening!”

In regards to if the new film will be shot where the original was, Grey added, “I can’t tell you that [officially], but I can tell you that [the movie] will involve Kellerman’s, so I would guess some of that is yes.”