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Jennifer Grey Reveals New Details About Patrick Swayze, Her Look, and Her Career

Photo Credit: Cindy Ord/ Getty Images/ Cropped
Photo Credit: Cindy Ord/ Getty Images/ Cropped

Jennifer Grey, best known for her role as Baby in Dirty Dancing, released a 2022 memoir about her life and career. Along with the release, Grey also hit the interview circuit and answered questions about some of the juiciest and most intriguing topics in the book. These included, but certainly weren’t limited to, her relationship with former co-star Patrick Swayze, her early 1990s nose jobs, and her Hollywood comeback.

Her relationship with Swayze

Because she acted alongside Swayze in one of the most memorable romantic films of all time, many people have wondered about the relationship between the two, something she was happy to discuss in a PEOPLE magazine interview. Despite how it might have looked on the big screen, the pair actually had little chemistry off-camera and in fact, there was tension between them. Grey admitted that they weren’t a “natural match” like Baby and Johnny were supposed to be.

Jennifer Grey as Baby Houseman in a white shirt with her arm around Patrick Swayze as Johnny Castle in a black tank top.
Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze in a publicity still for Dirty Dancing. (Photo Credit: murraymomo/ Vestron Pictures/ MovieStillsDB)

Yet she knew that she was the oddball in not being attracted to him, given that many fans were. “What’s wrong with me?”, she recalled thinking. In hindsight, Grey shared that if she could say anything to Swayze, who passed away in 2009, it would be: “I’m so sorry that I couldn’t just appreciate and luxuriate in who you were, instead of me wishing you were more like what I wanted you to be.”

A problematic nose job

Despite the incredible success she saw after the film was released, she realized that Dirty Dancing would only take her so far. In her memoir, Out of the Corner, she wrote, “there didn’t seem to be a surplus of parts for actresses who looked like me.” So she made the decision to drastically alter her look by getting two rhinoplasties. The first was a standard procedure, while the second was to attempt to fix a problem from the earlier surgery.

Jennifer Grey with large curly hair in a red dress smiling for the camera.
Jennifer Grey at the premiere of Dirty Dancing, August 17, 1987. (Photo Credit: Jim Smeal/ Ron Galella Collection/ Getty Images)

Instead of working in her favor to get more parts, the surgeries left Grey almost unrecognizable to those who knew her and made her the butt of tabloid jokes across the world. As she said in an interview with The New York Times, “Overnight I [lost] my identity and my career.” Although she was the one who ultimately decided to proceed with the nose jobs, it was really due to pressure from those around her.

In particular, her mother pushed for her to get the procedure from a very young age. Grey had no issues with her own appearance. She recalled, “My so-called ‘problem’ wasn’t really a problem for me, but since it seemed to be a problem for other people, and it didn’t appear to be going away anytime soon, by default it became my problem.”

Her future in Hollywood

Grey also discussed the future and her career comeback. She said, “I believe in my heart that the second half of a woman’s life is the best half. I can’t speak to a man as I’ve never been one, but I will tell you that my experience is the second half is the best half. I’m sure of it. I’ve never felt what I’m feeling these days.”

Jennifer Grey in a cheetah print shirt with her hair in two small buns smiling to the side of the camera.
Jennifer Grey attends the L.A. Dance Project Annual Gala, October 16, 2021. (Photo Credit: Amy Sussman/ Getty Images)

Of course, she also commented on the Dirty Dancing sequel which has officially been confirmed, with Grey playing Baby as an adult and working as an executive producer. She also confirmed that she is involved in creating the script alongside Lionsgate and hopes to honor the original film.

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Of the original, she told PEOPLE, “It was lightning in a bottle, it’s like this thing happened, and it’s so beautiful, and I can’t explain it. No one can explain it…I would love to give fans or a young, new audience an experience that would never replicate that, but has the same kind of underpinnings.”

Rosemary Giles

Rosemary Giles is a history content writer with Hive Media. She received both her bachelor of arts degree in history, and her master of arts degree in history from Western University. Her research focused on military, environmental, and Canadian history with a specific focus on the Second World War. As a student, she worked in a variety of research positions, including as an archivist. She also worked as a teaching assistant in the History Department.

Since completing her degrees, she has decided to take a step back from academia to focus her career on writing and sharing history in a more accessible way. With a passion for historical learning and historical education, her writing interests include social history, and war history, especially researching obscure facts about the Second World War. In her spare time, Rosemary enjoys spending time with her partner, her cats, and her horse, or sitting down to read a good book.