Olivia Newton-John says that 'Grease' isn't 'sexist'

Ben Arnold
·Contributor
·2-min read
1978:  Left to right: actors Jeff Conaway, Olivia Newton-John, John Travolta and Stockard Channing walk arm in arm at a carnival in a still from the film, 'Grease' directed by Randal Kleiser.  (Photo by Paramount Pictures/Fotos International/Getty Images)
Jeff Conaway, Olivia Newton-John, John Travolta and Stockard Channing in a still from the film Grease (Credit: Paramount Pictures/Fotos International/Getty Images)

Though there are plenty of moments that haven't aged at all well in classic movie musical Grease, its star Olivia Newton-John does not think it's sexist.

Newton-John was 29 when she played clean cut high school student Sandy Olsson, who turned up at Rydell High after a whirlwind summer romance with fellow student Danny Zuko.

However, Danny's lurid, exaggerated recollections of their relationship clash with Sandy's more innocent take, while the movie has long been criticised for Sandy's final transformation.

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After being mocked for her goody-goody image, she turns up for the movie's denouement dressed in skin-tight leather in order to snare her man.

Read more: Pink Ladies series could feature Grease songs

Asked whether the film stands up to scrutiny in the modern era, she told The Guardian: “It’s a movie.

“It’s a story from the 50s where things were different. Everyone forgets that, at the end, he changes for her, too.

Actors John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John embrace in a promotional still for the film, 'Grease,' directed by Randal Kleiser, 1978. (Photo by Paramount Pictures/Fotos International/Getty Images)
John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John embrace in a promotional still for the film Grease (Credit: Paramount Pictures/Fotos International/Getty Images)

“There’s nothing deep in there about the #MeToo movement. It’s just a girl who loves a guy, and she thinks if she does that, he’ll like her. And he thinks if he does that, she’ll like him. I think that’s pretty real. People do that for each other. It was a fun love story.”

Read more: Buyer returns Grease jacket to Olivia Newton-John

A prequel series of the movie, called The Rise of the Pink Ladies, is currently in production for HBO Max, and will explore how Rizzo and Frenchy ruffled feathers with their arrival at Rydell.

It's not the only Grease project in the pipeline either.

LOS ANGELES - JUNE 16: The movie "Grease", directed by Randal Kleiser. Seen here at the malt shop, the Pink Ladies and the T-Birds. In back from left, Kelly Ward (as Putzie), Jamie Donnelly (as Jan), Barry Pearl (as Doody) and Michael Tucci (as Sonny). Seated, from left, Olivia Newton-John (as Sandy), Stockard Channing (as Rizzo), Didi Conn (as Frenchy), Dinah Manoff (as Marty), Jeff Conaway (as Kenickie) and John Travolta (as Danny). Initial theatrical release of the film, June 16, 1978. Screen capture. Paramount Pictures. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)
Grease (Credit: CBS via Getty Images)

Prequel movie Summer Lovin’ is also being developed by Paramount, with director Brett Haley being confirmed to lead the project.

The movie will sit on the premise of the song Summer Nights, in which Danny and Sandy regale what happened the previous summer.

Read more: Grease writer denies Sandy fan theory

It's been penned by Leah McKendrick and John August, who wrote the screenplay for Disney's Aladdin remake and has worked often with Tim Burton on movies like Dark Shadows and Big Fish.