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Saturday, February 11, 2017

Val Kilmer Turned Down the Role of Johnny Castle

I recently discovered the Lebeau's Le Blog website, which is very informative about movie actors and actresses. The website reports that Val Kilmer turned down the role of Johnny Castle in Dirty Dancing.

The article says:
Kilmer was one of many actors who turned down a lead role in the coming-of-age musical drama. Lawnmower Man Jeff Fahey also turned down the male lead. ... Heather Graham turned down the Jennifer Grey role. ... 
For his part, Kilmer said he turned down the part of Johnny Castle for fear of being type-cast as a hunk.

Fall Out: Kilmer was type cast as a hunk anyway. In 1988, he played the hunky swordsman in Ron Howard’s fantasy film, Willow. So he traded out a hunk role in a hit for a hunk role in a box office disappointment. However, Patrick Swayze struggled against his hunky image for the rest of his career. So maybe Kilmer was right about turning down Dirty Dancing. It seems unlikely that he and Grey would have had the same chemistry that Grey had with Swayze. Maybe Dirty Dancing starring Val Kilmer wouldn’t have even been a hit.
The article includes this fake poster.

In 1986, the year when Dirty Dancing was made, Kilmer's movie Top Gun was released. This is what Kilmer looked like.

The actor Val Kilmer in the 1986 movie Top Gun.
The movie Dirty Dancing was filmed in 1986.
The Lebeau article's reader comments included the following.

Obviously I love this article. And there is no way to know how the movie would’ve turned out if Kilmer had been in it instead of someone else. .... Kilmer is one of the most famous current actors for turning down roles ....

Craig Hansen
As far as Dirty Dancing is concerned, I think it became the runaway success it did directly because of the chemistry between Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey. That’s what sold audiences. That, and the hit soundtrack that played on the radio for months on end. Romance films and Romantic comedies in general, more than most other genres, seem to live or die on that most elusive of things: chemistry between the leads.

It’s impossible to know for sure, but I suspect Kilmer and Grey probably wouldn’t have made as natural a duo as Swayze and Grey. ...

Val Kilmer is a terrific actor, but he doesn’t have the same kind of natural dancing talent or training Swayze had, and at the moment I’m having a hard time imagining Kilmer dancing around in DD’s scenes like Swayze did. Maybe he could’ve pulled it off, who knows?

Danielle Charney
... I had to chime in -- i love Kilmer and always have- to me he is ten times the actor that many who have surpassed him are -- Cruise, DeCaprio and others. While I love Dirty Dancing -- and you sort of have to like Swayze for some reason ... he really can’t act. He is so over the top. The light-footed direction and music, Jennifer Grey, and the dancing made that movie soar. And Jerry Orbach- even if on screen ten minutes- always works for me.


Jeff Fahey, who likewise turned down the Johnny Castle role, looked like this in the 1986 movie Psycho III.

The actor Jeff Fahey in the 1986 movie Psycho III.
Dirty Dancing was filmed in 1986. 

I doubt that Heather Graham turned down the Baby role. Graham was born in 1970, so she was only 16 when Dirty Dancing was filmed.


Dr. Ruth turned down the role of Mrs. Schumacher after she was informed that the character is a thief.

Dr. Ruth

Mrs. Schumacher (center)

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