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Column: A few minutes with Patrick Swayze

by Brad FuquaWestern News
| September 16, 2009 12:00 AM

The interview was brief – perhaps 10 minutes on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. And afterward while returning to my vehicle, I looked back to see a smiling Patrick Swayze with his arms around two people posing for a photo.

That short time that I spent with Swayze during the filming of “Waking Up in Reno” flashed back into my mind when I heard about the actor’s death. Swayze died Monday at age 57 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

Despite his fame and a busy schedule, Swayze graciously accepted an interview request. I found Swayze to be a genuine person who appeared to enjoy talking with other people. After we shook hands, he actually asked me a few casual questions and did not have the short, rigid attitude that I’ve found with other celebrities.

“Waking Up in Reno,” released in 2002, was not his best movie and it didn’t generate very good reviews despite an impressive cast. The crew was at the Grand Canyon on those few days to film what I believe was the movie’s closing scene.

After watching a few takes, the movie’s other actors – Billy Bob Thornton, Charlize Theron and Natasha Richardson – headed into a trailer for a break. But Swayze lit up a cigarette and walked over to answer a few questions. After the interview was over, we chatted for a short time about whatever was on his mind and then he headed down the trail a few feet to meet fans.

Swayze was a frequent visitor to northern Arizona and even made the news a few months after my interview with him when he crash-landed his airplane in the Prescott area.

As a whole, celebrities usually don’t have a lot of time for the media for impromptu interviews. With photographers and reporters following them around in an aggressive manner, who can blame them?

But I can say there are exceptions to the rule. And Swayze was one of them.

(Brad Fuqua is managing editor of The Western News. He can be reached at thewesternnews@gmail.com )