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Grease casting director finally admits why the actors are so old

Grease casting director finally admits why the actors are so old

We finally know why the controversial decision was made

Grease casting director, Joel Thurm, has finally revealed why the original Grease actors were so much older than the high schoolers they were supposed to be portraying.

The classic 1978 movie stars John Travolta as T-Birds leader Danny Zuko, and the late Olivia Newton-John as Australian student, Sandy Olsson.

At the time of filming, the former was 23 while the latter actually turned 29 on-set. The pair were therefore playing characters much younger than their actual ages.

Interestingly Stockard Channing and Michael Tucci, who portrayed Betty Rizzo and Sonny LaTierri were even older, at 32 and 31, respectively.

Stockard Channing (middle) was 32 when she was cast at Rizzo.

“By the time the film came around, I was in my early 30s and too old for the role,” LaTierri revealed to The Guardian.

But despite his age, he was granted an audition and was ultimately cast as a T-Bird and love interest to Marty Maraschino (Dinah Manoff) in the cherished musical.

In a recently published oral history of Grease, Thurm, 80, has admitted the reason why a decision to cast older actors was made.

“People might say the cast is too old, but Grease is not a documentary; it’s a fantasy,” he told The Guardian.

“It’s a non-PC fairytale that is better for the cast not being teens. The only thing that was important [while filming] was that the cast all looked about the same age as each other, which they did.”

Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta were 29 and 23, respectively when filming Grease.
Paramount/Everett Collection.

Elsewhere, Thurm also revealed how he knew Grease was going to capture the masses’ attention, despite the audience having to stretch their imagination.

“I knew it was going to be a hit — there wasn’t a question in my mind,” he admitted. “The critics didn’t matter, since they forgot that audiences go to movies to have fun.’

“The timing [of the release] was right as we were having a ‘50s revival with Happy Days on TV and the music put the album on the charts for a decade.”

Speaking about the movie’s legacy, Thrum admitted he regularly goes on YouTube to watch “flashmobs still performing songs from the film around the globe.”

While Thurm speaks of a ‘50s revival in the ‘70s, we’re currently having one of our own. Paramount+ has just released a prequel series to the film titled Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies.

Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies is streaming via Paramount+ now.

The TV series takes place four years before the events of Grease and follows four Rydell High students who go on to become the founders of the ‘Pink Ladies’.

You can stream the first two episodes of Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies now.

Featured Image Credit: Paramount/Rso/Kobal/Shutterstock

Topics: Film and TV, News