Strictly Swayze

Any chance of a DVD release of "Swayze Dancing", that wonderful instructional vid?
Charlene, via email

Ha ha! Well my wife Lisa and I just finished our dance movie actually; it's called One Last Dance and it's released on DVD. It's doing really, really well but I have to admit, at this point in life, having to turn back into a classically trained dancer took five years, three years to choreograph. Lisa wrote it, she directed it, we produced it, we starred in it. Will that do for you?

How do you think the film industry has changed during your career?
Annicka Ericssom, via email

That's a really interesting question. With the entertainment industry as a whole, I believe we're going down such a selfish, shallow route with this reality TV stuff that somewhere in the world, the people, the audience are going to stand up and say 'enough of this, I wanna feel something, I wanna care, I want my soul rejuvenated or my heart healed.' I seem to have been fortunate enough with some of my movies to all of a sudden have pulled something out of the box; to find a project that lightens peoples’ loads a little bit for a moment, or inspires or intimidates or makes people look at things from a different slant or a different point of view. Over a career you see Hollywood wanting to see you as the romantic leading man or the sex symbol or the action guy and I've been lucky. I feel really satisfied with what I've gotten the opportunity to do. But you're working as whatever you're seen as at that moment, whereas really it should be about your own sense of what you're looking for. Like 'oh it's time for an action movie' or 'it's time for a romance' or 'it's time for performance,' and it's gotten more like it in my time. Which is why I'm moving into my own production company and One Last Dance is the first installment of me doing my own movies and creating my own films to try to get some kind of control over how arbitrary things are. If you're looking to do a certain kind of movie, the way Hollywood is now, you can wait a long time. I waited a long time to find a script as beautiful as Ghost.

Come on, Patrick. When are we gonna see that sequel to Roadhouse?
Chris Finney, via email

They're shooting it in New Orleans right now from what I gather, and no, I'm not in it. It's amazing the rumours that run around about things, isn't it? That was a frustrating one because of what they wanted to do with it. Even though DVD is the future in many ways, at least for the moment, like VHS was at one period, as an actor you can't say yes to a direct to DVD movie, you can say yes to a movie that intends to be a feature film that winds up being released on DVD, so that's where they’re going with Roadhouse 2 and I fear if they ever look at doing something like that with Point Break. Those are two movies I'd love to do sequels to but I just couldn't say yes within the confines of going direct to DVD. So I'm still hoping there's a future for either of those projects. I'm thinking about a TV series for Bodhi. I love that character man. I really did want to create a bad guy that you absolutely love and who is talking straight stuff, he's talking the truth. Until he buys his hype, just like the danger of an actor you know the moment an actor buys their hype it's over with, you know?

You've starred in a heck of a lot of films, but do you have a favourite?
Sean Morrison, via email

Hmm… (Mr Swayze thinks for a little while... and then a little while more). I can't pick one out, sorry Sean. They all were favourites at one time. When a project scares me I know I want to do it and it really is that, it really is the desire to push the envelope as people say. There's a little bird that you have to keep alive in your life and I personally think this is with anyone or especially with an actor is that sense of unpredictability. That sense of danger to your work but the world is telling you to be appropriate and fit in and lose that side of yourself in order to become, quote, mature. That's really what I like and what stays with me after a movie. I guess right now Keeping Mum is something I'm very happy with.

Hi Patrick. How do you like working on our little island?
David Mills, via email

I love to work in England. Let me tell you, after City Of Joy in India I got really spoilt with English crews. Not only is there an amazing sense of fun but English people care more sometimes I think. There's a sense of fun to everything you do and people are not afraid of working really hard. Not to say you can't find that sort of thing in the States but there's just a different energy, you can feel it as an actor. Also, you can go to work and have real, intelligent conversations about world issues with people, whereas in the States you try and have the same conversation and people look at you like you're crazy.

I have been looking forward to your new film Keeping Mum for quite some time now and really can’t wait to see it. Just wanted to know what attracted you to the role, as it seems totally unlike previous roles?
Philip Petrie, via email

The script, the people, Niall Johnson [the director], the character. It was that sense of play, that sense of fun in the script and a great cast is what really attracted me to the situation. The opportunity to work with Rowan and Maggie and Kristin and the rest of the cast, and once again, the chance to work with an English crew. Also, I sort of feel like the key to objectivity and awareness is irreverence. Meaning if you take anything, including yourself, too seriously you can't see the truth and that was a big part of playing this character.

After almost twenty years in the spotlight, what drives you; how do you stay focused?
Emma McGinnes, via email

Wow, well it's actually over 20 years now Emma. A lot of people think I was discovered in Dirty Dancing but it was really North and South and even The Outsiders in 1983 that really launched me. I look for a quality in the work and it's always been about challenging yourself and playing against type and seeing how far you can take this craft. I'm a beast of passion and I require a sense of purpose and I've seen people in my life who've lost that sense of purpose for one moment and I don't like what it does to you. You just get lost, and with issues going on in the world with everything being devalued that's worth believing in. For myself personally, it's important to keep trying to grow. Never be afraid to say 'I don't know' because the moment you start with 'I know' your growth stops.

Hello Patrick. How do you feel when you look back at your life and career... happy?
Graham Abbot, via email

Oh you have to be, because you can't dwell on things. I mean, it's been an interesting journey for me to get to this point in my life and hopefully I've garnered some level of wisdom. I still keep that sense of unpredictability where nobody knows what you're gonna do next, especially yourself. I like to surprise myself. I'm a big believer in you can't create brilliance, but you can set the stage for it and that usually happens by accident. It's like those wondrous accidents that something that you never planned and never thought about comes out of you and surprises you. This profession takes a great deal of work to get things right, to be happy. Before I start shooting a movie the script may be 3/4 of an inch thick, by the time I start shooting, or by the end of that movie my notes and my character breakdowns, following each character’s journey, will be 4 inches thick. I do a lot of research in order to turn over every rock that some wonderful lovely titbit might be hiding under. I have always been the guy who thinks about things way beyond the surface and what the far-reaching effects of our actions or our choices are.

Were you approached to do Dirty Dancing 2: Havana Nights?
Claire Tracy, via email

In the form it's in now? No. The characters are different and I'm looking at doing something else along those lines. My feeling is, if you're gonna do a sequel then it has to be better than the first one. It seems people just have a need to formulise something you know, they have a need to try and stick something in a little box and it's the same with me as an actor. There are a lot of people out there who think the movie worked because of Patrick Swayze bumping and grinding and I really don't believe that. I really believe it's the heart of the movie that people bought into. It's the funky little Jewish girl who gets the guy because of what's beautiful inside of her and I think that's what translates. I don't know if I've always had a sense of what the audience wants, but I know what I want.

For more Readers' Questions to Patrick Swayze, read the You've Got Mail feature in the January issue of Total Film, on sale 3 December.