Jennifer Grey talks about "schnozzageddon," getting the nose job that left her unrecognizable, as well as her lack of chemistry with Dirty Dancing star Patrick Swayze and the fatal car crash she and then-boyfriend Matthew Broderick were involved in, according to two new interviews promoting her memoir.
The actress wrote in Out of the Corner, out May 3, that she and Swayze didn't have the best relationship off-camera. However, that "friction" fueled the film, which came out in 1987.
"The same way Baby and Johnny were not supposed to be together — they weren't ... a natural match, right? — we weren't a natural match," Grey told People magazine. "And the fact that we needed to be a natural match created a tension. Because, no, normally when someone's not a natural [match] ... both people move on, but we were forced to be together. And our being forced to be together created a kind of a synergy, or like a friction."
The 62-year-old continued, "I actually just had a thought about Patrick," who died from pancreatic cancer in 2009. "I feel like if I could say anything to him now I would say, '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.'"
When it was noted that America loved Swayze — and wished their on-screen love was real — he wasn't her type, as a co-star or otherwise.
"The weird thing was, it's like, 'What's wrong with me?'" she said of their lack of personal chemistry. "I mean, I was not lacking," at the time dating her Ferris Bueller's Day Off co-star Broderick. "And he was married. and very in love with his wife. Whatever he was doing, I was not... I was very busy with Matthew. What could be more different?"
Grey also spoke about getting a nose job in the early 1990s — after years of her mother, actress Jo Wilder, urging her to and at the advice of three surgeons. It was more aggressive than what Grey expected, she told the New York Times, leaving her nose "truncated" and "dwarfed." She then needed a second surgery to "fine-tune" her proboscis. It left her unrecognizable to people who had known her for years, and photographers who used to hound her didn't recognize her. She referred to it as "schnozzageddon" to the news outlet.
"The first time I had gone out in public," Michael Douglas — who she had known for years — didn't recognize her, she told People. "And it became the thing, the idea of being completely invisible, from one day to the next. In the world's eyes, I was no longer me."
In her book she wrote, "Overnight I lose my identity and my career."
The kicker was that her whole life she was "completely anti-rhinoplasty" despite her mother encouraging her to go under the knife.
"The weird thing was that thing that I resisted my whole life," she said, adding she "was so upset with my mother for always telling me I should do my nose." So when she did it, "I really thought it meant surrendering to the enemy camp. I just thought, 'I'm good enough. I shouldn't have to do this.' That's really what I felt. 'I'm beautiful enough.'"
She said her mother loved her, despite her telling her to change her appearance.
"She loves me, loved me, always has, and she was pragmatic because she was saying, guess what? It's too hard to cast you. Make it easier for them," Grey said. "And then I did and she was right. [The feedback she was getting no longer was]: 'You're not pretty.'
She said her parents, dad Joel Grey, both underwent plastic surgery themselves.
"When I was a kid, I was completely anti-rhinoplasty. I mean it was like my religion,' she said. "I loved that my parents did it. I understand it was the '50s. I understand they were assimilating. I understood that you had to change your name and you had to do certain things, and it was just normalized, right? You can't be gay. You can't be Jewish. You know, you can't look Jewish. You're just trying to fit into whatever is the groupthink."
Grey also spoke about the car accident she and Broderick were in just before the Dirty Dancing premiere. He was behind the wheel of a car in Northern Ireland when he crossed into the wrong lane and collided head-on with a mother and daughter, both of whom were killed. He suffered serious injuries; Grey had spinal surgery 30 years later as a result of the crash.
“The idea that the most traumatic tragedy, the most impactful experience of my life, was sandwiched..." with Dirty Dancing coming out and the accolades that came with it. "They are inextricably linked. The pleasure of that moment, that surprise arrival, it never felt good. It never felt like what I’d hoped my whole life it would feel like... We were so young. And there’s not a week that goes by that I don’t think about it. That I don't think about the families. That I don't think about Matthew. It's just in me. It's part of my topographical map, the landscape of my life."
Grey — who was divorced from Clark Gregg last year —told People that anyone looking for any further gossip about the tragedies can keep looking.
"There was some very, very heavy stuff that went down that changed my life forever and there was no one to blame," she said. "And many people might think that I'm here to tell some long-held secret. None of that, it's just we had an accident. It was a pure and simple accident that was tragic. And it had very serious traumatic lasting effects on, I'm sure, Matthew and the family of the other women and me."