Patrick Swayze convinced co-star Jennifer Grey to do the iconic ‘Dirty Dancing’ lift despite having problems with her
Be it the ballet, acting or singing, Patrick Swayze succeeded in almost every creative field he had his heart set upon. But, "Buddy", as Swayze was affectionately called, never let the fame or the riches change the gentleman that he always was.
“I am Patrick Swayze," the latest documentary on his life that premiered on August 18, tries to dive deep into the lesser-known side of the man who stole the hearts of millions with his good looks, chiseled physique and dance moves.
“I Am Patrick Swayze is a loving tribute to the prolific actor that showcases his life and career through untold stories, exclusive interviews, heartfelt home movies, and family photos featuring those who knew him best,” a press release about the documentary stated.
Here are a few highlights from the documentary:
Although it is hard to imagine that a multi-talented person like Patrick suffered from anxiety and self-doubt, he has never shied away from admitting it.
“You know the biggest thing for me about insecurity is I’ve always been very insecure. And had these problems go on in my insides, there’s tension and not liking myself stuff…” he was heard saying at the beginning of the documentary.
But it was Patrick’s willingness to see past the mental hurdles and live life like there was no tomorrow that made him the man he was.
“Most times people stop themselves from going for something in their life ‘cause they’ll be in the limelight and what if they blow it? Everybody’s gonna laugh or ridicule them or whatever. Who cares? I mean you are only on this planet for so long. You could be dead tomorrow go for it now, you know,” he added.
His relationship with his mother
Although Patrick’s mother, Patsy Swayze, sometimes drove him crazy, she also provided him with the drive and work ethic that later on helped him in his career.
She was a choreographer, dance instructor, and dancer – someone who pushed Patrick to become a ballet dancer.
“Somebody should have made a reality show about her. If she’d lived a little bit longer into this era, there would have been an eleven season arc of her life. She was a character and a life force, I mean, clearly that’s where the life force came from,” actor Rob Lowe said about Patsy.
Although she had two kids, it was clear from the beginning that Patrick’s mother was biased toward her elder son.
“She actually told me at one point that the reason that she picked the name ‘Patrick Swayze’ was because she thought it would look good on a marquee,” Lisa Niemi, Patrick’s widow said. “She trained him to be a God, not just excellent.”
Patsy was tough on Patrick from his childhood, although it was nothing compared to what she herself had to endure at the hands of her own mother.
His father’s death came as a big blow
Although his mother was the one who recognized his potential as a dancer and an entertainer, his father, Jesse Wayne Swayze, was the one who kept Patrick grounded and the one he always aimed to impress. So, his father’s sudden death in 1982 came as a shock to him.
“My big brother had always identified himself as little buddy. There’s big buddy, little buddy. Now that my dad was gone, I don’t think he knew what to do with it,” Don Swayze, Patrick's brother said.
Although cigarettes and alcohol played a big part his father suffering a fatal heart attack at the age of 57, Patrick took to drinking heavily in the wake of his father’s death. Patrick began to drink and drive – a phase of his life that Don said was self-destructive.
“Everything that he’d wanted to accomplish, he didn’t know if he even wanted to do it anymore. Because everything he was doing was for my father,” Don said.
The love-hate relationship between Patrick and his 'Dirty Dancing' co-star
While most people saw the sizzling chemistry between Patrick and his leading lady, Jennifer Grey, in the movie “Dirty Dancing,” very few people were aware of their not so sweet relationship behind the scenes.
“The thing is that I believe tension is much hotter-looking than just love. And I think there was a very complex dynamic between Patrick and myself for the whole movie," Grey said. "You know you see a cartoon and there is a fight and just you can’t tell who’s who and it’s just a ball, it was a little like that with him and me… whatever our issues were, we had them, but they weren’t talked about."
However, regardless of their personal issues with each other, when it came to supporting his co-star, Patrick never took the shortcut.
With so many dangerous and risky dance moves involved, Jennifer said that he always gave her the distinct impression that he would always support her.
“And I’ll never drop you, and I’ll never let you get hurt. I might throw myself around. I might be careless with my own body but I will stand in front of a train for you. And that’s pretty fucking good," she said.
She also spoke about how he was the one who convinced her to make the final jump – the lift that became iconic with the movie and proved to be a metaphor for trying out something that people might be afraid to try.
“Me as an actress, I can’t do that. I am too scared, I am too fearful of hurting myself. And he’s like, ‘No, you gotta do it.’ And I can’t do it unless I implicitly trust Patrick," she said.
A masculine man who cried
Nicole David, Patrick’s agent, said that the defining moment of her boss’ career was not “Dirty Dancing” but the interview with Barbara Walters that he did following the film.
When Walters asked him about his father death, Patrick could not hold back the tears. He became emotional on national television – a rare sight for a masculine actor at the time.
“I think people loved him on the Barbara Walter’s show because he was a good-looking, athletic guy who cried,” Nicole said.