Road House is getting a remake. The 1989 Patrick Swayze classic is coming back to Amazon Prime and will star Jake Gyllenhaal and Conor McGregor. The original film featured a pretty deep cast. Let’s learn what they’re up to now.
From 1984 to 1991, Swayze was on an incredible run. Just to pluck some highlights, he followed 1984’s smash hit Red Dawn with 1987’s Dirty Dancing. After Road House, he did Ghost in 1990, then Kathryn Bigelow’s beloved action film Point Break in 1991. That’s five movies that have stood the test of time all in a few short years, plus he found time to star in one of the most beloved sketches in SNL history: “Chippendales Audition” with Chris Farley. Remarkable.
In 2008, Swayze was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, which eventually spread to his liver. He famously did not stop smoking cigarettes even while receiving treatment. Swayze died on September 14, 2009, at the tragically young age of 57.
Opposite Swayze was Kelly Lynch as Dr. Elizabeth Clay. Lynch was on a nice run of her own in the late 1980s. Her breakthrough came a year earlier in the Tom Cruise classic Cocktail. After Road House, she starred in Drugstore Cowboy. That film earned her one of her two nominations for an Independent Spirit Award. She made a pretty major mistake when she turned down Basic Instinct in 1992, as it’s the film that made Sharon Stone a household name.
Lynch has maintained steady work over the years on projects big and small. She had a recurring role on The L Word and the 2010 reboot of 90210. Her last major project came in the 2017 Audience series Mr. Mercedes, based on the works of Stephen King.
We’re cheating a little bit here, but did you know Annette Bening was supposed to be in Road House? She was originally cast in the role of Dr. Elizabeth Clay, but she reportedly had no chemistry with Swayze. It’s not like Bening was an unknown either; she’d already been nominated for a Tony Award in 1987 for Coastal Disturbances. Instead of Road House, Bening starred in the Colin Firth rom-com Valmont.
Missing out on Road House certainly didn’t hurt Bening’s career at all. In 1990, she received her first Academy Award nomination for The Grifters. She worked with great directors like Barry Levinson, Tim Burton, and Sam Mendes. Bening can look back on a legendary career all while cashing Marvel checks. Not too shabby.
Sam Elliott played Swayze’s mentor in Road House. It’s roles like this one that placed him among the greatest character actors of all time. By 1989, Elliott was already incredibly established thanks to roles in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Quick and the Dead, and Gunsmoke.
With nearly 100 credits to his name, Elliott is nothing if not prolific. If you had to pick a few career highlights, he had a small but pivotal role in the Coen Brothers classic The Big Lebowski and received an Academy Award nomination for A Star is Born. Last year, he got himself in hot water for homophobic complaints about The Power of the Dog, but he’s still getting work.
The big baddie of Road House was played by Ben Gazzara. Gazzara was a widely respected actor who came up in the Actors’ Studio. He starred opposite James Stewart in Anatomy of a Murder, readily regarded as among the greatest films ever made.
Like his castmate Elliott, Gazzara would go on to appear in The Big Lebowski. Also, like Elliott, he was extremely prolific. By the mid-1990s, he started starring in about five movies per year on top of TV appearances. Gazzara won an Emmy Award in 2003 and passed away in 2012 at the age of 81.
You gotta hand it to Road House for featuring so many men with incredible voices. On top of Elliott, the action flick had Keith David in a bit role as a bartender (though it was such a “bit” part that the grainy screenshot above is all we have of it). David is perhaps best known for his films with John Carpenter: The Thing and They Live.
David and Elliott co-starred in The Quick and The Dead, which is just one of David’s 300-plus roles. He’s a legendary voice-over artist who’s still very much in demand. He was also a memorable addition to Community as Elroy Patashnik.
Some Memorable Bit Players
The margins of Road House are dotted with folks who lived interesting lives away from the big screen. Terry Funk played one of the many men Swayze fights. He’s also a legendary professional wrestler who’s been inducted into numerous wrestling halls of fame all over the planet. You cannot tell the story of professional wrestling without talking about Funk. He was still wrestling well into his seventies before his health forced him to retire in 2017.
Red West’s most popular role came in Road House, but it’s hardly the most interesting part of his life. He was a bodyguard and confidant of Elvis Presley, and was one of the writers of Elvis: What Happened?. The expose revealed Presley’s drug abuse to the world. West died in 2017.
Singer and guitar player Jeff Healey is all over Road House. His band recorded music for the soundtrack and appeared in the flick itself. Healey was responsible for the hit song “Angel Eyes” that very year. He passed in 2007.
We’ll have to wait and see who else director Doug Liman gets for his remake.