"Nobody puts Baby in a corner." He actually said that line. In a movie. And it worked. Such was the genius of Patrick Wayne Swayze. He took on borderline preposterous roles and approached them with such an earnestness, such an emotional depth, that he was able to create cinematic brilliance. He formed fully fleshed out human beings from characters other actors would have made a cartoon. The roles he took were unconventional. The bouncer with a philosophy degree from NYU. The zen master leader of a gang of surfing bank robbers. A teenager leading the counterattack on Russian soldiers. A Catskills resort dance instructor with an edge and a heart of gold. While many of these roles seem like a potential punchline, Mr. Swayze made them into real people. And he did so with a commitment and determination that Hollywood too often lacks. Mr. Swayze approached even his humorous roles with the same sense of purpose. When he hosted Saturday Night Live in 1990, Mr. Swayze starred in a legendary skit in which he competed against Chris Farley for a spot with the Chippendale's dancers. What makes the skit so remarkable is the level to which Mr. Swayze commits to the moment. He seems legitimately threatened by Farley's antics. It is brilliant television.
At the same time, Mr. Swayze seemed to approach the industry with a wide eyed wonder that suggested he may not even be aware of the magnitude of his accomplishments. He may have been oblivious to the shadow he cast among his peers. None of Mr. Swayze's contemporaries could have played Dalton convincingly. The same holds true for Johnny Castle and Bodhi. His career was remarkable yet under appreciated.
Simply put, on Monday, September 14, 2009, the world lost an incredible actor and a true professional. We here at the Son of Feeney will miss him deeply.