Celebrate the 30th anniversary of Dirty Dancing with PEOPLE’s special commemorative issue, “Dirty Dancing — The Music, The Moves, The Memories: Inside the Film’s Most Beloved Dance Romance,” available for purchase here, and on newsstands now. Below, check out this 2007 interview with Swayze from PEOPLE’s archives, in which Swayze looks back on his love life and struggles with fame:
Johnny Castle Forever: In 2007 Patrick Swayze spoke to PEOPLE about the film that made him an ideal leading man.
Did you ever think it’d be such a hit?
Initially I thought it was a little saccharine. But as Jennifer and I started connecting, you do start to feel magic happen.
When did that happen?
In Red Dawn I was so intense I didn’t think this girl would ever want to talk to me again. I had done Goodtime Charley with her father on Broadway [in 1975], so Jennifer and I were sort of destined to come back together. [In the dance scenes] I’d run my fingers down the back of her arm, and she’d giggle and it would frustrate me. They caught that real stuff on film. The camera caught the magic of the real truth.
What did you learn on the movie?
If you want to know the truth, Dirty Dancing taught me how to do a love scene. It’s not about a man and a woman jumping each other’s bones, it’s about two people not being complete until they look into each other’s eyes. I’m not [kidding]. This is why these romantic movies in my life succeeded.
What was the inspiration behind your song “She’s Like the Wind”?
That a man is in love with a woman and he knows he’s not good enough. I had been meeting girls with names like Mimi and Angel. Then I fell in love with Lisa, my wife, and for a long time didn’t feel like I deserved her. That’s kind of how Johnny felt with Baby: She so outclasses me, how dare [I think] she might love me? I think I accidentally keyed into something that so many guys feel.
What do you think it is about Dancing that makes it so timeless?
The funky little Jewish girl gets the guy because of what she has in her heart—that’s the reason Johnny falls in love with her. She falls in love with him because he still believes in dreams.
I grew up on a book called The Little Prince where grown-ups were called “given-ups,” and at 54 years old I still believe that, that you don’t give up on your dreams. But you’ve got to be able to work hard enough to make it happen.
RELATED VIDEO: Reasons We Still Love ‘Dirty Dancing’ 30 Years Later!
Since the time you made the film, you have had some struggles too.
Well, who doesn’t? Trying to deal with fame I got stupid and drank too much. You have to understand, I’m the product of a cowboy who fell in love with a talented big-city girl. So I’ve had rodeo, horses and cattle in my life, but I’ve also had theater, success and ambition. Trying to find what it is to be a real human being and what it is to live through fame was hard. But I feel fortunate that I’ve come out the other end. I have a great deal of gratitude that I’m still doing it and I still love it.
And you still dance, right?
All the time.