It’s been three decades since Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey united for one of the most iconic — not to mention romantic — dance movies of all time. So, with all of the eighties remakes out there lately it makes perfect sense that Dirty Dancing should return too… with an entirely fresh new cast, of course.
That’s what’s going down on TV Wednesday night, when the highly anticipated three-hour, dance-and-musical event airs on CTV at 8 p.m. ET. And you can bet that there’s a star-studded cast ready to make it just as magical as the original.
At the centre of the flick is Abigail Breslin as Baby, a.k.a. Little Miss Sunshine all grown up. Debra Messing and Bruce Greenwood are on board as her parents, while Modern Family’s Sarah Hyland plays her older sister, Lisa. As for the role of Johnny Castle? Well we all know that Patrick Swayze left some pretty big shoes to fill. But newcomer Colt Prattes is certainly up for the challenge.
Not only does the young actor have a slew of theatre credits under his belt (Rock of Ages, West Side Story and A Chorus Line, for starters), but he has an even bigger credential than that: he’s a huge Swayze fan who grew up watching Dirty Dancing nearly every weekend on TV. In fact, the film is the entire reason he learned to dance in the first place.
“When I found out that Swayze’s mom owned a dance studio and he had grown up dancing and then became an actor, it wasn’t the usual Hollywood story where he learned to dance for the role. He had grown up that way, and it just changed my perspective on dance. That was a huge reason I started dancing,” Prattes reveals. “We all have memorable little moments from the movie; Baby dancing down the stairs and across the footbridge, or carrying the watermelon. One of the big ones that always stuck out to me was the scene in the dance studio where they perform “Love is Strange.” I remember being on the ground at my dad’s house in the cabin and just like pretending to play air guitar. That’s pretty much where I learned air guitar. So between dance and air guitar, Dirty Dancing inspired a huge portion of my life.”
The actor reveals that when he finally got a call from the director after a lengthy audition process, it was pretty much a dream come true. He was dropping his wife (fellow actor Angelina Mullins) off at work when he got a phone call from the car. Following the good news he put the director on mute, got out of the car, and he and his wife just ran around the car in a parking lot screaming their heads off before she ran inside to work. Then he drove off to his own gig in Rock of Ages.
“I couldn’t tell anybody because contracts weren’t signed and it wasn’t an official thing,” he remembers. “I had to do the show for days without anybody knowing. And then it came out on Deadline and everyone finally knew and I was like, ‘Oh my God I know, it’s crazy!’”
One might think that Prattes’ love for Swayze would add to the pressure of performing the iconic role. On that, he says,“The truth is in his absence I’m still honoured to play him; even if he were here I would be just as nervous as I was. I didn’t look at it as trying to copy him. He is something very important to me and to a lot of people. He is a legend and he is an idol. So it wasn’t something I ever looked at as ‘Oh, I can do this as well as he can,’ or, ‘I watched this so much I could do it just like him.’ Neither of those thoughts crossed my mind. I just wanted to put my whole heart into it, because that’s what I felt like he did. So by the end there was nothing left in the tank. We just put our whole hearts into it.”
What does Prattes have to say about an entire generation of men and women who may be looking at him after Wednesday night with a glint in their eyes, the way an entire generation of adoring Swayze fans looked at and crushed on him?
“I would be honoured if anybody even took the time to look twice. That’s a huge compliment,” he laughs. “If anybody looked at me like that I dig it and I appreciate it very much. It’s very sweet. My wife might have a problem with it, but I think it’s very sweet.”