Grease stunned viewers when it was released in 1971. The teenage musical drama explored the lives of Danny Zuko (Travolta) and his strained relationship with Sandy (Newton-John) in a sheen of hairspray, greased-back hair, gangs and classic cars. The leading duo were a thrilling pair who really sold their relationship on-screen, but Olivia would not have been a part of the franchise if John didn’t fight for her to get the part.
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John and Olivia appeared on a TV interview in 1981 where they told talk show host Merv Griffin how they first met.
The Danny actor revealed: “Well I had put in heavy pitching for Olivia.
“I wanted this girl bad in Grease. Because I had done the show on Broadway on a national tour and I said: ‘The perfect Sandy, the ultimate Sandy, would be Olivia Newton-John.”
Olivia didn’t know this at the time and yelled: “You said what?!”
The actress was a surprising pick, as she had already made quite the name for herself as a singer in Australia and the UK.
Her first album was named after this title track, If Not For You, and was released in early 1971.
The record was a big success for the newcomer. The If Not For You single reached number 7 in the UK Singles Charts and the album hit number 14 in the Australian Album Charts.
John continued: “Well [the studio] said: ‘Let’s talk about it.’
“So I went to meet Olivia and I hadn’t achieved the success I have achieved today, so I was looking around her house…”
Olivia laughed: “I remember you saying: ‘Wow this house, you’ve got a pool!’”
When asked if it was his job to make sure Sandy’s role was filled by the Aussie star, John replied: “A little bit!
“It was my job, for me personally, because I wanted her so badly to do it.
“And Olivia said: ‘Okay I’ll do it, but I have to see myself on a screen test first.’”
Olivia chimed in: “I was very conscious of my limitations so I didn’t want to tackle it and make a fool of myself.”
After convincing her to join the picture, the Saturday Night Fever star then had to urge her to sing a specific song with him.
John said: “Then I had to talk her into doing You’re The One That I Want, that’s the big turn for her character.”
The final moments of the film showcase Sandy having a change of heart, putting on a leather jacket and smoking a cigarette to impress Danny.
The pair then sing You’re The One That I Want and drive into the sunset, creating one of the most iconic moments in the movie.
After John convinced Olivia to sing the song with him in the movie the single was released, which went straight to number one on the Billboard Hot 100.
In less than three months, You’re The One That I Want was certified platinum, becoming a runaway success for the singers.
Grease is available to watch on Amazon Prime Video.