• Kristyn Burtt

John O’Hurley Won’t Ever ‘Swing Away’ From ‘Dancing With The Stars’

Updated: Apr 30


John O’Hurley might best be remembered as J. Peterman on Seinfeld, but Dancing With the Stars fans know better. He was part of the premiere season when this crazy little dance competition swept the attention of America and became a massive hit.


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Now the actor is keeping busy with a new film, Swing Away, getting ready to host NBC's for The National Dog Show and rehearsing for Lythgoe Family Panto’s production of Sleeping Beauty and Her Winter Knight at Theatre Under the Stars in Houston, Texas.


He recently spoke with Dance Dish about his new film and his memories of that original DWTS season, which was only six weeks long during the summer of 2005.


In Swing Away, O’Hurley gets to play a greedy American developer who is looking to sell a Greek golf course and make a fortune. The thorn in his side is a small village determined to keep their town intact, thanks to a female golf pro, played by DWTS alum Shannon Elizabeth, and a 10-year-old aspiring athlete, played by Viktoria Miller.


O’Hurley has a long history with golf, so this film was a natural fit for him.


“I understand the game and I understand the premise of the character — a Type A-personality businessman meets a gambler golfer,” he said. “I did make [my character] irredeemable and I make no apologies for him. What I liked about him was his sardonic sense of humor. That’s what I hooked into — the deal, the deal, the deal.”


More: 'Dancing With the Stars': The Magic of Kate Flannery & Pasha Pashkov


Since O’Hurley knows a thing or two about the sport, he was impressed with Elizabeth’s golf game. 


“She has a nice swing. She knows the game and she was coached well,” he shared. 

O’Hurley is thrilled that fans are finally getting to see this film because it was in development for seven years.


“It went through so many evolutions. It’s the little film that could,” he proudly shared. “The fact that it has a U.S. release and video on demand at the same time. It’s a credit to tenacity.”


O’Hurley can also credit tenacity as the reason he wound up on the first season of DWTS


“I was the first guy they asked. They took me to lunch and they showed me the tape of Strictly Come Dancing,” O’Hurley reminisced. “Back then, they were pleading with people to do this. I told them I would be happy to do it — I’ll host it. They wanted me to do it.”


O’Hurley took some time to think about the offer and then realized there was a good reason to do the show.


“I don’t know how to ballroom dance and at the time, I was nearing 50 years old and for my brand — I should know how to ballroom dance,” he explained. “When I told them I decided to do it, they responded, ‘Good! Now that we have you, we can get Evander Holyfield.’ ”


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O’Hurley has a great sense of humor when it comes to the casting situation.


“Ahhhh, I see what they were doing. They’re trying to give America what they’ve been screaming for, for more than 20 years — an Evander Holyfield/John O’Hurley matchup,” he laughed. “We were finally together on a level-playing field of ballroom dancing together. I took him out in the third round with my Foxtrot.” [Editor’s Note: O’Hurley took Holyfield out with his Tango.]

Even though many involved with the show, including Tom Bergeron, did not have a lot of faith in the show initially. O’Hurley thought otherwise.


“I knew it was going to be an enormous hit, but I think I’m the only one who had confidence in it,” he roared with laughter. “Everybody over at ABC was hanging their heads, but I knew it was going to be such a slam-dunk. Sure enough, it was.”


Even with the drama of the dance-off between O’Hurley and Season 1 winner Kelly Monaco due to voting issues on the finale, he shared that he “had the time of his life. It was such a nice little kick in the ass to the career, so many great things came from it.”


Swing Away is currently playing in theatres in a limited release and is available on video on demand platforms like iTunes, Google Play and YouTube Movies.

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