‘Grease’: Olivia Newton-John Responds to Criticism the Iconic Movie Musical Is Sexist

Many people have criticized Grease recently for being sexist, but star Olivia Newton-John doesn’t quite see it that way. Newton-John weighed in on the matter during a recent podcast interview and doesn’t want anyone to overthink Grease being anything more than fun entertainment.

Olivia Newton-John as Sandy and John Travolta as Danny Zuko in 'Grease'
Olivia Newton-John as Sandy and John Travolta as Danny Zuko in ‘Grease’ | CBS via Getty Images

Does Olivia Newton-John think ‘Grease’ is sexist?

Grease has come under fire for being sexist and lacking diversity recently and one of the movie’s stars doesn’t quite see it that way. During a Feb. 1 episode of A Life of Greatness podcast, Newton-John was asked about that criticism.

“In this particular instance, I think it’s kind of silly because the movie was made in the ’70s about the ’50s,” Newton-John explained. “It was a stage play, it’s a musical, it’s fun. It’s a fun movie musical and not [meant] to be taken so seriously.”

“I think everyone’s taking everything so seriously,” she added. “We need to relax a little bit and just enjoy things for what they are. I didn’t see it like that at all. I think it’s just a fun movie that entertains people. That’s all.”

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Are Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta still friends?

Of course, everyone wants to know if John Travolta, who played Danny, and Newton-John, who played Sandy, are still friends.

It’s not surprising to discover that their on-screen chemistry is just as strong off-screen. “We always will be [friends],” Newton-John said. “I think we shared something incredibly unique, making that film that is still so loved. It keeps our friendship together.”

In 2018, Newton-John and John Travolta reunited for the 40th anniversary of Grease at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences screening and Q&A session.

Travolta and Newton-John perhaps wouldn’t have struck up a lifelong relationship if she had passed up the role.

“I really wasn’t sure I wanted to do the movie because I’d made a movie before in England, which was a musical, and it didn’t work, so I was very frightened about doing a movie,” Newton-John explained. “Then they sent John to meet me and who could say no, right? This gorgeous guy walks up my driveway, these bright blue eyes, and he was so sweet and melted me and he talked about it.”

She thought she was too old for the role but Travolta convinced her to do the movie.

Travolta shared his love for Newton-John at the event when he gushed about having the opportunity to co-star alongside the singer.

“If you were a young man in the ’70s, and I’m sure many of you were, out there. If you remember that album cover of Olivia with that blue shirt on, with those big blue eyes staring right at you, every boy’s, every man’s dream was, ‘Oh, I’d love for that girl to be my girlfriend,” Travolta said.

“So when I had the privilege to have input on the casting, I said, ‘There is no other person in the universe other than Olivia Newton-John to play Sandy. You must cast her.’ So I held tight, didn’t I, and I got my way,” he added.