They played love’s young dream Danny and Sandy in 1978 movie Grease, but it seems John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John carried a torch for each other off camera too.
The actors have reunited 40 years on from the release of the hit film, along with co-stars Didi Conn, who played Frenchie, Barry Pearl, who played Doody, and director Randal Kleiser, along with several more.
But the spotlight was on the main on-screen couple as they sat down for a chat with host Mario Lopez on Thursday, in a Facebook livestream for The Academy – before revealing their first impressions of each other when meeting on set.
Asked what the first thing that came to mind was when he thought of Grease now, John immediately said: “Olivia… She was my favourite thing about doing Grease.”
He added: “If you were a young man in the ‘70s, and I’m sure many of you were, if you remember that album cover of Olivia with that blue shirt on, with those big blue eyes staring right at you every boy’s, every man’s dream was, ‘I’d love for that girl to be my girlfriend’.
“So when I had the privilege to have input on the casting, I said there was no other person in the universe, other than Olivia Newton-John, to play Sandy.”
It seems the feeling was mutual, as Olivia recalled meeting John and thinking he was a “gorgeous man” with bright blue eyes himself, who “melted her” when he finally approached her.
But while John had already begun to make a huge name for himself in the industry, it was Olivia’s first huge break – and her biggest fear at the time was mastering the American accent. Along with that, she had doubts about the movie itself – and worried about playing an 18-year-old when she was 29 herself.
“I really wasn’t sure I wanted to do the movie because I’d made a movie before in England, which was a musical, and it didn’t work. I was very frightened about doing a movie. My musical career was doing okay,” she added.
Asked why it was so popular, she explained: “I think the ‘50s has a wonderful, nostalgic element for people.”
As director Randal Kleiser stated that John had looked after Olivia, and treated her like a little sister, John joked: “Well, not exactly, I had other designs, but sister is fine!” Which earned him laughs from the crowd.
The cast reunited in Beverly Hills to celebrate as movie theatres across the globe get ready to play the film to mark the very special 40th anniversary. Sure enough, John and Olivia were in great spirits and were seen cuddling, dancing and having fun catching up on the red carpet at the Samuel Goldwyn theatre in Los Angeles.
Meanwhile, an exclusive stamp pack is being sold to mark the anniversary, including 20 red rose heart stamps from the Love to Celebrate stamp issue, as well as photographs of the top characters.