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Lea Thompson shares 'Red Dawn' memories of Patrick Swayze

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Lea Thompson, who co-starred with Patrick Swayze in 1984’s Red Dawn, spoke to EW following his death and shared personal memories of working with him on that film’s shoot.

In the film, Patrick Swayze played Jed, the leader of a group of Midwestern teenagers who fought against invading Soviet tropps. “He was the kind of ringleader of all of us kids: Charlie Sheen, me, Jennifer Grey, and a bunch of other kids,” Thompson told EW. “In the script he was the older one, the one who was the commander of us, so he kind of took that job seriously. We would have, like, midnight raids. [laughs] In the middle of the night they’d knock on our doors and go ‘Wolverines!’ We’d all kind of practice these maneuvers, because we were guerilla fighters. It would all happen in the middle of the night, like a fire drill. We’d grab our coats and run around the town in the middle of Las Vegas, New Mexico in the middle of the night, pretending we were guerilla fighters. It was like camp. It was so much fun.”

Thompson said that one reason she and Swayze bonded on the set was because they both had a ballet background. “We had this strange bond of me knowing him as a ballet dancer, but him also having to be this macho leader of a gang of guerilla soldiers. [laughs] It was a funny juxtaposition, because I think we were both maybe trying to hide the fact that we were ballet dancers a little bit.”

Thompson continued: “I always felt badly that I never got to dance with him. And I was extremely jealous that Jennifer Grey, who was in Red Dawn with us, got to be a dancer with him [in Dirty Dancing]. Sometimes we would dance a little bit together, and I always thought it would be so much fun to do a movie where I could dance with Patrick Swayze. He had an amazing zest for life. He really did. He’s one of those people that just really knows how to wring the most out of every day. I found that inspirational then and I’ve held that inspiration for all these years.”

She added: “I think of how much passion he had and discipline he had for his work, and that’s what I remember, along with his incredible sense of humor and how much fun he liked to have. And I regret that I didn’t get to spend more time with him.”

Read more tributes to Patrick Swayze.

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