‘Dirty Dancing’ Star Jennifer Grey Says She Was ‘Terrified’ to Do Iconic Dance Move with Patrick Swayze

by Madison Miller

As Johnny and Castle run toward each other, meanwhile the classic “The Time of My Life” tune plays in the background, Patrick Swayze effortlessly lifts her into the air to float horizontally like a bird in flight.

When it comes to classic movie scenes, few can top this lift scene in “Dirty Dancing” with Swayze and Jennifer Grey.

While it all looks effortless and romantic on the screen, Grey recently revealed just how nerve-wracking it was to film that iconic scene from the 1987 movie. The feel-good movie is about a woman who spends the summer at a Catskills resort with her family. During her stay, she slowly falls in love with the charming and handsome dance instructor at the camp.

Jennifer Grey Talks Iconic Dancing Scene

“Dirty Dancing” was a film that Grey really had to take a leap of faith with. It was an incredibly low-budget film with a number of different struggles and issues while filming. Her role in the film as a leading lady was something too good to pass up on, so she tried her luck with the risky project.

It all clearly worked out, given the movie is a classic ’80s film. When it came to filming with her co-star and romantic interest, that was an entirely different kind of leap of faith in a quite literal sense. Jennifer Grey said she really had to overcome some fears and put a lot of trust into Swayze.

“He was such a great dancer. He was really masculine, like a real cowboy who had been trained as a ballet dancer. I had to fully leap into his arms, in spite of how terrified I was. Literally,” Grey said in an interview with Closer Weekly recently.

Iconic Success of ‘Dirty Dancing’

Despite just how terrifying the scene was, it helped launch both Grey and Swayze into timeless fame. Although the movie is fun, flirty, and feel-good, Grey said people should also recognize the more serious themes hiding under the surface.

“It’s about a loss of innocence. The girl loses her virginity and goes from being a daddy’s girl to a woman. She discovers that she’s more than she thought she was, and she gets the guy that she never thought she could get. And he’s going to feel that she sees something more in him than he thought he was. It’s not a preachy movie, it’s a feel-good movie. But there are some very serious themes happening under the surface about not letting anybody put you in the corner,” Grey also said about her iconic role in “Dirty Dancing.”

The movie continues to be regarded as a massive success. It grossed more than $214 million worldwide and was also the first home video to sell 1 million copies.

That “Dirty Dancing” lift is also continuously referenced in current movies, TV shows, and everyday people. So much so that most people know what you’re referring to when you say “The Lift.”

We’ve seen the move recreated in “Crazy, Stupid, Love,” for instance. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone pull off the move. Other mentions pop up on “The Muppets,” “Silver Linings Playbook,” and even “Bob’s Burgers.”