Jennifer Grey is content to leave the most iconic moment of her big screen career firmly in the past — even if she had the time of her life doing it.
The 55-year-old actress, who’s in Amazon’s new ‘80s-set comedy Red Oaks, has been in plenty of movies and TV shows since starring in 1987’s hit romance Dirty Dancing. But she’ll probably always be remembered most for the climactic scene in the '60s-set drama (see above), in which her character Baby leaps into the arms of talented young dancer Johnny (Patrick Swayze), who then lifts her high into the air above an awed talent-show audience. It captured the imagination of a generation, but don’t expect Grey to participate in any sort of homage to the lift (even as Hollywood continues to tip its cap to the scene).
In a new interview with The Guardian, Grey says that she and Swayze only performed that scene once during the film’s production, without ever rehearsing it. “I don’t know how all these people who re-enact it have the guts to throw themselves into the arms of anyone other than Patrick Swayze. It’s insane!” she said. She hasn’t done a lift since the movie — even when asked to recreate the moment during her run on the reality competition Dancing With the Stars in 2010.
“It’s a non-starter,” she said. “It happened, enjoy it, watch it over and over again, but never ask me to do it again because I’m too f—ing old…. I have a family and I want to live longer.”
Grey is not totally disavowing Dirty Dancing, of course. On that same season of DWTS (which she went on to win), Grey did a waltz to Otis Redding’s “These Arms of Mine,” a song that’s on the Dirty Dancing soundtrack. The rehearsal of that dance brought her to tears thinking about Swayze, who had died of pancreatic cancer just a year earlier.