Which actor turned down the role of Danny Zuko in the movie Grease?

Sometimes the choices we make in life lead us to doors we never imagined could open for us.

And sometimes, those same choices can be the worst mistake we’ve ever made.

The acting world has no shortage of either of these situations.

But the most fun ones to read about are undoubtedly the choices actors and actresses made that turned out for the worse.

For example, did you know that Neo from The Matrix was almost played by Will Smith?

Or that Harrison Ford’s version of Han Solo almost ended up having Burt Reynolds’ face?

Shocking, we know.

In this article, we’re going to talk about one of those choices.

Specifically, which actor turned down the role of Danny Zuko in the movie Grease.

Keep reading to find out who that was!

What is Grease about?

Grease was one of those movies that defined a generation. An unexpectedly great musical, the movie reached cult status pretty quickly and is still on everyone’s watch lists to this day.

It’s so good that your mom knows the songs, you know the songs, and your grandma probably does too.

It also did wonders to propel some not very well-known faces, at the time, into the level of fame they have today.

Namely, John Travolta.

While you wouldn’t know it was looking at his career trajectory today, Travolta wasn’t the most famous cookie in the bunch when the movie came out.

That title was reserved for leading lady Olivia Newton-John.

Grease follows a group of high school kids from the early 60s and their everyday lives.

It’s centered around the main couple Danny and Sandy and has a pretty distinctive Romeo and Juliet vibe in the sense that each character is from opposite “gangs.”

In the end, however [spoiler alert!], both groups are able to come together to celebrate their friend’s relationships and happiness.

Who is Danny Zuko?

One of the original movie heartthrobs, Danny Zuko, is one-half of the main couple in the movie.

He has been claimed to be loosely based on James Dean.

Leather jacket, slicked-back hair, plenty of swagger, and that cool vibe we all wish we could copy. 

He leads the high school gang called the T-Birds, a group of boys that spend their days hanging out and fixing cars for school classes.

We see them constantly greasing up and fixing their hair and doing everything they can to keep that too-cool-for-school style all the girls love. 

Part of the storyline shows us his evolution from a bad boy who cares too much about what his friends think to someone who’s willing to change for the girl he loves.

He risks his reputation and the respect of his friends in order to show Sandy that he really does love her.

People went wild for John Travolta after this movie came out, and it was certainly a huge step that helped him build the successful career he has behind him now.

He was good-looking, and his character was the perfect one for teen girls to go crazy over.

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So, which actor turned down the role of Danny Zuko in the movie Grease?

Which actor turned down the role of Danny Zuko in the movie Grease
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That would be Henry Winkler, or if you’re familiar with more classic TV, Fonzie from Happy Days.

A stand-up guy, he’s reported to have turned down the role of Danny Zuko when it was offered to him because he believed Travolta was better suited for the character.

While he could dance, his singing chops left much to be desired, and as a musical, his lack of singing ability would have been a big issue.

Years later, he still believes turning down the role was the best choice he could have made.

But, we can’t help but wonder what the movie would have looked like with Barry Zuckerhorn (his character in Arrested Development) vying for Sandy’s heart.

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Who is Henry Winkler?

Which actor turned down the role of Danny Zuko in the movie Grease
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Henry Winkler was born in New York in the year 1945.

He had a childhood that mostly revolved around his and his family’s Jewish religion, although they weren’t extremely strict about it.

He lived in NYC until he went to Yale for college, where he attended the school of drama.

His big acting debut came with the TV sitcom Happy Days, which aired from 1970 to 2003.

His character, The Fonz, was originally only meant to be a secondary one, but thanks to Winkler’s excellent acting ability, he managed to secure the main character position.

Winkler has also produced and directed several projects, is a published children’s book author, and even holds an Order Of The British Empire.

This last title was given to him as recognition for his contribution to the arts. 

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