Thirty-five years ago, actress Jennifer Grey achieved popularity for her starring role in the iconic Dirty Dancing, a film that would go on to define her career. Now, Grey is 62 years old and publishing a memoir called Out of the Corner. Ahead of the book’s release on May 3rd, People spoke with her about some of the standout moments of her time in the industry.
Among the anecdotes she shared involved Madonna and the song Express Yourself, around the time of her romantic relationships with Matthew Broderick, her costar in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and Johnny Depp. “We did Bloodhounds of Broadway together. She told me she wrote ‘Express Yourself’ about me breaking up with Matthew. She played it for me in her car. I was in my log cabin with Johnny and she said, ‘Come into my car.’ And I got in her Mercedes where she had a really good sound system and she was like, ‘Listen to this song I just did. It’s about you.’”
Grey also discussed the work she had done on her nose, which she felt came to define her just as much as her signature role, which was more high-profile than anything else she did after that. “I spent so much energy trying to figure out what I did wrong, why I was banished from the kingdom. That’s a lie. I banished myself. I hadn’t seen the way in which I made choices.” She shared that Michael Douglas didn’t recognize her at a premiere. “And it became the thing, the idea of being completely invisible, from one day to the next. In the world’s eyes, I was no longer me. and the weird thing was that thing that I resisted my whole life, and the thing I was so upset with my mother for always telling me I should do my nose. I really thought it was capitulating.”
Additionally, Grey described how she first found out that her father, actor Joel Grey, was gay. She learned about it from Broderick’s mother when they were still dating in the 1980s, when she used a homophobic slur to describe him. Grey reflects that “Perhaps she was offended by my lack of knowing. I don’t know what she was thinking. She was, um, she was a tricky personality. I don’t know how else to put it. Like, she was a truth teller, truth bombs. A Cassandra. She was, like, come what may. She just said whatever she believed was the truth — and perhaps she was doing me a solid. Maybe she thought: Is anybody gonna say what’s happening in the world?” Grey now believes that his sexuality is “really only for him.”