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The Secret to Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze’s Sizzling ‘Dirty Dancing’ Chemistry — Even Though They Didn’t Get Along

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By now it’s no secret that Jennifer Grey and the late Patrick Swayze weren’t the best of friends while filming their iconic movie, Dirty Dancing ($5, Amazon). Scenes where Swayze’s character would get frustrated while trying to teach Grey’s character dance steps were glimpses into the actors’ actual dynamic. The pair have discussed it in countless interviews and Swayze mentioned their friction in his autobiography, Time of My Life ($16.97, Amazon). So how did they manage to sizzle up our screens?

Grey spoke with Glamour and explained how at first, she didn’t think there would be any palpable spark between them. “I didn’t think we had chemistry,” she claimed. “But you either do or you don’t. It’s a weird thing. It doesn’t have to do with whether you like someone or not. It’s just you either have it or you don’t.” As we all know now, Grey’s first impression was totally wrong — they definitely had it!

Of course, we can’t imagine it would be all that hard to pretend like you’re falling in love with someone as handsome as Swayze. Grey told Hollywood Reporter about a few other factors that helped during filming: “He smelled really good, his skin was really nice. He was really strong and he was very protective and his heart was very much in it.” 

Now we’re a bit too distracted wondering exactly how nice Swayze smelled even while working up a sweat on the dance floor… Ahem, his strength also came in handy when it came time for the film’s legendary lift. Grey claimed that his fearlessness and expertise as a dancer helped combat her own “fearfulness,” saying it was “like a marriage where you have two opposites. He’d do anything and I’d be scared to do anything.”

Before his passing, Swayze spoke with the American Film Institute about their partnership in the film and said they just took pieces of him and Jennifer working together attempting to be a dance team. “One thing that worked beautifully was that it really was a teaching situation,” he said.  

It seems all of that off-screen tension just made their on-screen characters all the more passionate. He also called her “one of the most gifted actresses around in terms of her ability to be present in the moment right now.” See, it wasn’t that they were constantly at each other’s throats or anything — just two very different people trying to meet in the middle. 

Considering how much we all still love watching, rediscovering, and talking about Dirty Dancing, it’s clear these two certainly got it right while teaming up. We recommend taking a quick break to hit play on the clip below and remember just how well Swayze and Grey’s chemistry really worked!

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