Grammy award-winning singer and actress Olivia Newton-John doesn’t carry any diva tendencies in her DNA. How can we be so sure? As Julianne Hough explains, the beloved 67-year-old star has been nothing but supportive of Fox’s live reprisal of Grease and Hough’s 2016 take on Newton-John’s original, wide-eyed Sandy.
“I met Olivia a couple times. And she was a guest judge on Dancing with the Stars back in November. And when I found that out, I actually screamed so loud because I was so excited,” Hough tells reporters of her encounters with the pro. “And when I met her, she, I didn’t even say anything to her first. She just said, ‘I hear you’re playing Sandy. Oh, my goodness. Congratulations. You’re just perfect for it.”
Hough may not be nervous for the big shoes she has to fill, but don’t think her reaction to Newton-John’s words of encouragement didn’t come with plenty of emotion. “I almost started crying because I was like, ‘This is my, like, hero. This is my 5-year-old dream.’ So for her to kind of give me that kind of blessing to take that weight off, like, ‘I hope I make her proud,’ has been very just opening,” she adds. “And I can come here and discover Sandy for myself and still honor what Olivia did. And yeah, I hope that she’s watching, and John [Travolta] and everybody. And I mean, she’s better than you hoped she would be.”
Hough’s Newton-John-approved performance isn’t the only one to look forward to. Vanessa Hudgens will take on the role of Rizzo while Carly Rae Jepsen will channel her inner Frenchy across Rydell High.
Mark your calendars—Grease: Live airs Sunday, Jan. 31 at 7 p.m. ET on Fox.
—With reporting by Carita Rizzo