Apr 30, 2018, 01:15am
On June 16, 2018, Grease will officially turn 40.
The musical, which starred Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta, was an instant box office success and became a cultural phenomenon. It grossed $8.94 million domestically in its opening weekend, debuting in second place behind Jaws 2, and went on to break box office records including taking a record gross of $40.27 million in its first 19 days.
Grease has now taken $188.76 million domestically ($394.96 million worldwide). At the time, it was the highest-grossing musical ever - it’s now in fourth place behind Les Misérables, Mamma Mia! and Beauty and the Beast (2017).
To celebrate the film’s 40th anniversary, and its fully restored rerelease, I caught up with Olivia Newton-John to talk about the movie, Grease's legacy, kitsch classic Xanadu, and the possibility of a return for Sandy and Danny.
Simon Thompson: Grease was the first movie I ever saw in a movie theater. Do you get a lot of people telling you about how formative the film was for them?
Olivia Newton-John: Oh, absolutely and that is what's amazing. There are grandparents who saw the movie when it came out and then they showed to their kids and their kids' kids. Even now, I get five-year-olds saying how much they love the movie. Oddly, about very eight or 10 years it seems that a new generation comes through and picks up that momentum. Maybe these kids see it on television or their parents have it, I don't know. I could probably write a book containing all the stories I hear about people saying when they saw it and what it has meant to them. I never get tired of that. It's really wonderful and I definitely feel very grateful for that experience.
ST: When did you realize that Grease was going to surpass being a box office hit and become a cultural phenomenon?
ON-J: We believed in what we were doing but I don't think anyone could have imagined that would be still so popular 40 years later. Of course, we were hopeful that the movie would do well, and it did, but I don't even think Paramount were that excited about it in the beginning. It just took on a life of its own. Making it was fun but you never know with movies if audiences are going to go with it or not, even if you love it. It is incredible that it is still going but it's not even just that, it's showing no signs of stopping. You say "Sandy and Danny" and people instantly know what you're talking about.
ST: You say Paramount weren't very excited about Grease, but did anyone tell you that the movie wasn't a good idea?
ON-J: Actually, I was the only one who was very nervous about making the movie. My musical career was doing well at the time and I had made a movie a few years before, a science-fiction musical, called Toomorrow. It had all the bells and whistles, it was produced by Don Kirshner, the guy who put The Monkees together, and Harry Saltzman, who co-produced the James Bond movies, and we were going to be a group doing all these musical movies. A lot of money was spent on it and it was a total flop. So, understandably, I was a little skeptical and nervous about doing another musical movie. I was the one that insisted on a screen test and told them I couldn't do it if they made me American so they agreed to me being Australian and they had me do a screen test. It's really kind of funny when I look back at it. I almost talked my way out of one of the best things to happen to me.
ST: So, without your influence and insistence, it could have been a very different movie?
ON-J: Yeah, she’d probably have been American had it not been me. I was the first person to bring an Australian accent to the big screen in a major Hollywood movie. Before that, if you were an actor or an actress, you had to be able to do an American accent.
ST: Looking back, how much you remember of your time on set with John Travolta and everyone else? Does it seem like only yesterday?
ON-J: I do remember quite a bit, not everything, but it was a long time ago. I really can't forget it. Also, because I keep being reminded of the movie all the time and I talk about it so often, it stays fresh. In all honesty, it was like being at a normal school because I didn't go to one like that. At my school, there was a uniform, the boys and the girls we kept separate and the environment was very different. In so many ways it was an experience I'd never had before. The film's producer, Allan Carr, kind of created a party atmosphere with us all and encouraged us to hang out together. He'd come by every day and give us a pep talk and keep the energy up.
READ MORE AT : https://www.forbes.com/sites/simonthompson/2018/04/30/40-years-and-a-return-olivia-newton-john-talks-grease/#375e805e1dd0
Chez ONJ .. pour le Australian Woman's Weekly !