Why ‘Dirty Dancing’ Star Colt Prattes Was ‘Terrified’ to Deliver Patrick Swayze’s Classic Line

“I can’t do what he did — that’s Patrick Swayze,” actor tells TheWrap about ABC’s musical remake of the 1987 classic

Colt Prattes and Abigail Breslin in ABC's "Dirty Dancing"

There’s no question that Colt Prattes had the time of his life shooting “Dirty Dancing,” ABC’s musical remake of the Oscar-winning 1987 film.

Prattes — a relative unknown whose biggest previous credit was the music video for Pink’s “Try” — plays Johnny Castle, the role originally played by the late Patrick Swayze. The new version airs Wednesday and also stars Abigail Breslin as Baby (Jennifer Grey’s character), with Sarah Hyland, Debra Messing, Katey Sagal, Nicole Scherzinger, Bruce Greenwood and Billy Dee Williams rounding out the cast.

“You can’t do it better,” Prattes tells TheWrap of the original film. But he is confident that viewers will enjoy this new take on the story. “I just hope people take time to watch it and love it for this version.”

The 31-year-old actor also discussed why he wouldn’t practice the film’s iconic “nobody puts baby in a corner” line before cameras started rolling, Swayze’s role in shaping his career and Breslin’s fear about filming the classic dance-scene lift.

TheWrap: What’s going through your head with the movie reboot about to air?
Colt Prattes:
Everything’s going through my head! I haven’t found the right words to describe it. I’m just really, really freaking stoked, it is the least poised way to say it. I haven’t seen the final edit, and I’m so excited, and I can’t wait for people to see it. I’m just happy.

How do you approach taking on one of Patrick Swayze’s signature characters? Was it important to make your version different from his?
I can’t do what he did — he’s Patrick Swayze. That was never an option because he is a legend. I wanted to put my heart into it the same way he seemed to put his heart into his work. When I watched [the original as a child], I was inspired to dance because of how heartfelt everything he did was. It’s certainly not a comparison — it’s like a cover song. It’s not saying this is a better way to do this song. It’s just saying, “I love this song so much that I want to share it with you with my heart in it.”

Which scene was the toughest to shoot? Was it the lift?
The lift was just all heart, all day — it was just the best. That was the hardest scene to do time-wise because we shot all of “Time of My Life” in one day, and it was a very, very long day, even by set standards. You know what? The lift in the water [was tough] — it was pretty cold. But this role, this movie — this is a blessing. There was nothing that was hard without feeling overwhelmingly rewarding on the other side of that.

How nervous was Abigail Breslin about the lift?
I’m pretty sure that I’m not out of line saying that she was terrified to do the lift, but also so determined. And if there’s one thing that Abby is, it is strong-willed and strong-minded. And that’s what that lift needs, is total commitment. If you pull any punches on that, you won’t do the lift. Everybody’s gotta just run and do it.

It must have been fun to deliver the iconic “nobody puts baby in a corner” line
Oh, my God! It was terrifying and amazing. I wouldn’t say it until I was in the scene because obviously it is the line, and I was like, “I’m not going to practice it.” We do the first take, and I say it, and you could see Bruce and Debra are so professional and poised, and then Abby throws her hands up to her mouth and starts clapping, ruins the take. And then Bruce and Debra started clapping. And Bruce says, “All right, first one’s done — let’s get it now.” Did it a couple more times, and then we got it, and Bruce and Debra stood up and started clapping, and it was like the coolest thing in the world.

What is it like to work with Abigail?
That’s my AB! That’s my girl. I talk with her every day, every other day, on the phone, even now. Abby’s insane. She’s such a hard worker — she’s a beautiful beautiful soul, and I couldn’t have done this with anybody but her.

Last year, at the start of the shoot, Debra Messing wrote on social media that she felt conflicted about filming the movie in North Carolina, given the transgender bathroom legislation. Was this something that the film’s team discussed?
At the time, obviously it’s something that came up, but I know that [with] the contracts to shoot the movie down there, the wheels were already in motion, and that employed so many people. So I was really happy that we got to do it, and North Carolina is beautiful. I had so much fun down there, and getting to be part of where they shot some of the original. I’m glad that we got to be there, and at the same time, there is the aspect of that legislation, and I think [the lawmakers will feel] repercussions for that in the future.

“Dirty Dancing” airs on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.