Legendary singer and actress Olivia Newton-John, who sadly passed away Monday, almost didn’t star in her biggest film, its casting director reveals.
Grease casting director Joel Thurm recently revealed to People that Newton-John was initially reluctant to take on the role of Sandy opposite John Travolta’s Danny.
“John was already pre-set, and John asked me, ‘What do you think of Olivia?’ I said, ‘She’s wonderful.’ He said, ‘What do you think of her for Sandy? That’s a great idea.’ And once John said that, and that’s who John wanted, I stopped anything else,” Thurm said.
But after Newton-John overcame her reticence to co-star in the 1978 musical, there was never a doubt about her casting, Thurm added. He said there was “nobody [as a] backup” if she turned down the part.
“If she said no, I’d be playing the part in a poodle skirt,” he told People. “So everybody wanted Olivia here, but Olivia didn’t jump at the offer. That’s the important thing to know.”
He continued: “She said, ‘Okay, I want to see a screen test with John and myself and then I’ll let you know if I want to do it.’ I think I’ve never heard of a case where an actor being offered a role said, ‘I want to see me before I say yes.’ But that’s how smart she was.”
Olivia Newton-John Passes Away
John Easterling, Olivia Newton-John’s husband, posted the announcement of her death on her Facebook page around 1 p.m. PT on Monday.
“Dame Olivia Newton-John (73) passed away peacefully at her Ranch in Southern California this morning, surrounded by family and friends. We ask that everyone please respect the family’s privacy during this very difficult time,” the statement began.
It continued: “Olivia has been a symbol of triumphs and hope for over 30 years sharing her journey with breast cancer. Her healing inspiration and pioneering experience with plant medicine continues with the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund, dedicated to researching plant medicine and cancer.”
Travolta, mourned her death on Instagram on Monday.
“My dearest Olivia, you made all of our lives so much better,” he wrote. “Your impact was incredible. I love you so much. We will see you down the road and we will all be together again. Yours from the first moment I saw you and forever! Your Danny, your John!”