Olivia Newton-John Initially Turned Down ‘Grease’: Here’s Why

by Tia Bailey

The late Olivia Newton-John is a beloved actress most known for her role as Sandy in “Grease.” However, she almost turned down the role when it was initially offered to her.

“Grease,” a musical film that premiered in 1978, followed innocent Sandy Olsson (Newton-John) and high school player Danny Zuko (John Travolta) as they navigated romantic feelings, high school, and cliques. The film is a classic, and Newton-John really broke into her career following the premiere.

However, it was recently revealed that the actress almost turned down the role. PEOPLE released a Newton-John tribute issue in which the actress detailed why she almost didn’t accept the role back in the 70s.

In 1976, Newton-John met Allan Carr, a producer. He told her about “Grease,” a new film set in the 50s. She responded that she couldn’t wait to see it, and Carr told her that they had not cast a female lead at the moment — and that she would be perfect for the role.

At the time, Newton-John was a 29-year-old Australian singer who had only been in one film — one that was not doing well.

“My music is going well,” she told him. “I’m not interested in making another movie.”

However, Carr and 22-year-old John Travolta, who had been cast as the male lead, would not let up. Newton-John and Travolta had not met yet, but Travolta drove to her home to convince her to do the film in person.

Olivia Newton-John Almost Turned Down the Role of Sandy

“I said, ‘There is only one person that should play this role, and it’s Olivia Newton-John.’ She happens to be the biggest singer in the world right now, [and] she’s every guy’s dream,” the actor told PEOPLE in 2018.

Newton-John had told the producers of the film: “I’m not American, I can’t do an American accent. I’m 29, how can I be 18?”

However, she ended up accepting — after a screen test with Travolta. She said: “I couldn’t believe what a high ponytail, a ribbon, and a little bit of petal-pink blush do.”

Olivia Newton-John passed away on August 8 at age 73 due to breast cancer. Many have been remembering the star, and it is clear that she is very missed by many.

Travolta had shared a photo of his friend and former co-star on Instagram in remembrance, writing in the caption: “My dearest Olivia, you made all of our lives so much better. Your impact was incredible. I love you so much. We will see you down the road and we will all be together again. Yours from the first moment I saw you and forever! Your Danny, your John!”