Patrick Swayze's 'bad boy acting parts' almost lost him iconic Ghost role

Yasmine Leung August 18, 2022
Patrick Swayze's 'bad boy acting parts' almost lost him iconic Ghost role
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images


One of Patrick Swayze’s most legendary roles was in romance fantasy Ghost but the actor almost lost out on the part because of his history of playing bad boys.

August 18 marks what would’ve been the actor’s 70th birthday. The Golden Globe nominee sadly died after a battle with pancreatic cancer on September 14, 2009. Swayze was diagnosed with advanced stage four pancreatic cancer in January 2008, a year before he was hospitalised with pneumonia. He was 57 years old.

Fans and co-stars alike mourned his passing, including Demi Moore, who portrayed his on-screen fiancee in 1990’s Ghost.

“Patrick you are loved by so many and your light will forever shine in all of our lives,” she wrote at the time.

Moore almost shared the camera with a different actor as Swayze wasn’t director Jerry Zucker’s first choice due to his limited portfolio.

Patrick Swayze proved himself as an action star – and it was worrying

Photo by Michael Loccisano/FilmMagic

Ghost premiered a year after the double release of action films Road House and Next Of Kin in 1989. In both films, Swayze’s talent as a tough fighter was evident thanks to the characters of James Dalton (Road House) and Truman Gates (House Of Kin), a seasoned security guard and former US Army Airborne Ranger respectively.

To say they contrasted the role of Ghost’s murdered banker Sam Wheat is an understatement. Zucker required an actor capable of displaying sensitive emotions, a side he had yet to witness from Swayze’s intense action-packed filmography, excluding Dirty Dancing.

The director admits he “made the mistake of seeing some of his other movies” during the hiring process, prompting little interest in Swayze. However, that changed completely on the actor’s reading of Ghost’s moving farewell scene.

“We all had tears in our eyes, right there in the office – and we knew how it ends,” Zucker told People. “I saw a side of Patrick I never knew existed.”

 Ghost became Swayze’s biggest success by far, grossing more than $505 million worldwide in one year.

Swayze and wife Lisa Niemi were childhood sweethearts

Photo by Paramount/Getty Images

The actor was survived by his wife of 34 years, Niemi. They didn’t have children.

Swayeze and Niemi met at Houston Dance Company when she was just 14 years old. The actor’s father owned the company and served as director.

They tied the knot on June 12 ,1975 when Niemi was 19 years old. Together, they pursued dance careers in New York City in the 7190s, although Swayze’s was derailed following a knee injury.

The actors took their love on-screen for 2003 film One Last Dance, which Niemi also wrote and produced. They also starred in 1987’s Steel Dawn.

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Yasmine Leung is a full-time writer at GRV Media. Having entered the company as a freelancer in 2020 during her BA (Hons) Anthropology and Media degree at Goldsmiths, University Of London, the first-class graduate works across the company's several sites, including HITC, Reality Titbit, The Focus, and Forever Geek. Her content ranges from social media trends and K-Pop news, to interviews with TikTok stars, such as Brody Wellmaker. She is, however, most glad her knowledge of the Kardashians has finally come in handy for GRV’s Audience team. You'll also find her scrolling on Instagram searching for the latest celeb updates for her next piece.