‘Flashdance’ Director Recalls Why Jennifer Beals’ ‘Wet Dance’ Almost Wasn’t In the Movie

Flashdance was a surprise hit in 1983. Paramount didn’t know they had a phenomenon on their hands. It was a pleasant surprise to producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer, director Adrian Lyne and the cast. It made Jennifer Beals a star with its iconic dance scenes and underdog story, but one of the movie’s most iconic moments almost didn’t happen.

Flashdance water scene
Jennifer Beals | CBS via Getty Images

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On a new Paramount Presents Blu-ray of Flashdance, Lyne speaks about the making of the film. He focuses on the dance routine in which Beals performs under falling water. Apparently that scene gave him no end of trouble. Here’s why. 

Adrian Lyne had to sell the wet dance to ‘Flashdance’ executives

During preproduction, Lyne proposed the wet dance to various studio executives. His primitive rehearsal version didn’t exactly capture their attention the way Beals’ eventual version would. 

Jennifer Beals
Jennifer Beals | CBS via Getty Images

“I tried to explain to the executives that I wanted to do a wet dance and they were infinitely skeptical,” Lyne said. “They were all sitting on bleachers looking at me. I had a girl at the bottom and I had a hose pipe with water, no lighting. I was trying to explain that the water was going to fly everywhere and her body was going to look great because of the sheen on her body.”

He got the lighting wrong on Jennifer Beals the first time too

When Lyne finally got to shoot the wet dance, he made some novice mistakes too. Beals performs the final version on a black stage which makes the water stand out more. Lyne learned that the hard way. 

Flashdance wet dance
Jennifer Beals | CBS via Getty Images

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“The scene with the water falling on her I struggled with,” Lyne said. “I was backlighting it and in my innocence I realized that the background needed to be dark. It’s such a fundamental obvious thing so the sparkling water would show up. I was trying to do it against a white background which is insane. Finally I realized my idiocy.”

Making the wet dance work was an underdog story just like ‘Flashdance’

Flashdance had universal appeal because you didn’t have to be a dancer to relate to it. Alex Owens (Beals) was a welder who wanted to become a dancer, but she represented anyone with a dream. Making the dance numbers of the film work was Lyne’s own Flashdance victory.

“So many things are luck really but I think you have to make the luck happen,” Lyne said. “When you’re deeply depressed because everybody is cynical about this wet dance and oh that won’t work and most of you thinks it’s not going to work either but that you persevere. It’s a little bit like the story of the movie really, about persevering and succeed.”

Jennifer Beals | CBS via Getty Images

Lyne believed in himself and the 1983 box office vindicated him. Now there’s yet another special edition Blu-ray release thanks to Lyne’s instincts.

“I’m by no stretch an intellectual,” Lyne said. “Sometimes I have sort of a knack of thinking that I’d it pleases me, maybe it’ll please a lot of other people.”