Deadline recently reported that there may be a new Dirty Dancing in our future, one that will star and be executively produced by Jennifer Grey. Sure, there have been other iterations of the 1987 classic, such as 2004’s Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, which starred Diego Luna and Romola Garai. But a new Dirty Dancing that would include on its cast list the actor who originated the role of Baby Houseman — could it be? In the words of Deadline, “While details are being kept quiet, there’s some rumblings that a new Dirty Dancing movie could be in the works. Sources aren’t confirming, but they aren’t putting the idea in a corner either.” There’s a lot going on in the world right now thanks to the ongoing effects of COVID-19, but taking a timeout with our dream cast list of actors for the rumored Dirty Dancing movie may be just the reprieve you need.
Zendaya as Frances “Baby” Houseman
The young actor may be able to relate to the character arc that Baby embodies during Dirty Dancing, which ends with her being called by her given name, Frances, in the final scene. By that point, the character has grown into the type of strong character that we love to see portrayed on the screen. Zendaya got her start on the Disney Channel, eventually landing bigger projects such as The Greatest Showman. The actor who grew up in front of the camera has now graduated to more mature work, with her current starring role in HBO’s Euphoria as an example. With any potential personal connections to the character coupled with her body of work, we think Zendaya would be a perfect fit to reprise the role that Jennifer Grey originated as Frances “Baby” Houseman. And if any question remained about Zendaya playing the lead in a new Dirty Dancing movie, we would bring up her exceptional execution of complicated choreography, displayed in both The Greatest Showman and in season 16 of Dancing with the Stars, when she took second place.
Noah Centineo as Johnny Castle
While Centineo may not have as strong of a dance background as the late Patrick Swayze, who originally portrayed Johnny, he does have the “bad boy with a heart of gold” character type down pat. Centineo’s breakout role as Peter Kavinsky in Netflix’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the perfect example, and we’d love to see him bring that essence to Johnny Castle. Plus, the actor nicknamed “the internet’s boyfriend” displayed some impressive dance moves on a “Dance Battle” segment of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, with one of his numbers carrying the title of “Dirty Dancing When the Chaperone Ain’t Looking.” If that’s not a sign that Centineo is meant to be a part of the rumored upcoming Dirty Dancing movie, we don’t know what is.
Jennifer Grey as Marjorie Houseman
It’s been 33 years since Grey played the college-aged Baby; she’s known for bringing that character to life. So in the most metaphorical sense, it would be incredibly interesting to see Grey take on the role of the woman who actually gave birth to the character, according to the plot’s premise. That is, we would love to see Grey’s interpretation of Marjorie Houseman, Baby’s mother. In the original storyline, Baby mostly went to her father for support, but a new Dirty Dancing movie could provide the opportunity for Marjorie to take on a more active role in helping mentor their daughter. Imagine how Grey could draw from her experience playing Baby and from the wisdom she’s gleaned since to play Baby’s parent in a new Dirty Dancing movie. For example, while watching Baby come alive during the final dance number, Marjorie asserts to her husband, “I think she gets this from me.” Imagine Grey delivering that line, all things considered. Can you say “meta”?
Sterling K. Brown as Dr. Jake Houseman
Brown is no stranger to playing a husband and father who balances complicated family dynamics, as evidenced by his role as Randall Pearson in This is Us. He also starred in the A24 feature Waves, portraying a strict dad who, by the end of the film, had gained a broader perspective. Both roles speak to his capability of taking on the character of Baby’s father. We can already hear him delivering that powerful line at the film’s conclusion, “When I’m wrong, I say I’m wrong.” The seasoned actor has an impressive, varied body of work that we think would lend itself to a layered and complex portrayal of Dr. Jake Houseman.
It remains to be seen if the Jennifer Grey-starring dancing movie in the works at Lionsgate will turn into a new Dirty Dancing movie. We do know that it’s set in the 1990s, which could make for an original take on the 1987 classic film, which was set in 1963. And should we be blessed with a new version of Dirty Dancing, there are still more roles to cast, such as Baby’s sister Lisa and Johnny’s fellow staff member Penny. But as it pertains to the main characters listed above, Zendaya, Centineo, Grey, and Brown have our votes.