Only One Road House Stunt Was Too Dangerous For Patrick Swayze

Virtually every actor in Hollywood claims to do their own stunt work, and while many of them manage to perform a good chunk of it, only a few have the physical prowess and dexterity to really pull it off. One actor who could do the majority of his stunts was Patrick Swayze and for good reason: From an early age, Swayze was an athlete as well as an artist, playing football during high school, studying ice skating and classical ballet, and eventually practicing several martial arts such as Wushu, Taekwondo, and Aikido.

When it came time to shoot 1988's "Road House" (a perfect movie, it must be said), there was no shortage of stunts for Swayze to perform. The film revolves around Swayze's character, James Dalton, a "cooler" who is hired to provide security for a Missouri nightclub known as the Double Deuce. Once there, Dalton runs afoul of crooked businessman Brad Wesley (Ben Gazzara), who wants to control everything in the town of Jasper — including the Deuce and Dalton. In true Western hero fashion, Dalton refuses, setting up a feud between the two that can only end in punches, kicks, and gunfire.

While the copious physical action of "Road House" was no problem for the agile Swayze, one stunt proved too dangerous for the actor, and it occurs during what is arguably the movie's most infamous scene.

'I don't fly ... too dangerous'

Near the end of the second act, Wesley's devious plan to wipe out those who oppose his goal of extorting the town comes to a head when he has his ex-con henchman, Jimmy (Marshall Teague), set off an explosion in the home of kindly farmer Emmett ("Sunshine" Parker). However, Dalton happens to be nearby, rescuing Emmett and pursuing the evil Jimmy, who's attempting to escape on a motorcycle. Undaunted, Dalton runs like mad toward the speeding Jimmy, diving through the air and knocking the henchman off his bike before engaging him in a spectacular knock-down, drag-out fight.

While Patrick Swayze and Teague performed the entirety of the fight, neither man was allowed to perform the leap and fall off the motorcycle. As the stunt coordinator for the film, Charlie Picerni, recalls in an interview with MEL Magazine, "I had my son doubling Marshall just for the motorcycle sequence where he was riding away and Patrick dives on him." Director Rowdy Herrington elected to use a double for Swayze for the scene, too, making this the only stunt in the film that the actor did not perform. "He was really mad at me that he couldn't knock the guy off the motorcycle," Herrington tells The Ringer, remarking at Swayze's dedication to his character.

'Pain don't hurt' — A fight to remember

Although neither actor was able to take part in the dangerous stunt that kicks off their final confrontation, both Patrick Swayze and Marshall Teague performed the rest of the sequence. The two went above and beyond to deliver the movie's most memorable scene. 

Fight trainer Benny Urquidez recalls, "Marshall Teague's moves were very military-esque," while "Patrick, he moved like a cat." Swayze and Teague had an unplanned, method actor approach to their on-screen antagonism. They didn't speak to each other on set because they "secretly didn't want to come in and be friends," Teague explains. While they shot the fight, the two men taunted each other, eventually deciding to go "rock 'n' roll," as Teague puts it, and hit each other for real.

The fight's unforgettable climax was conceived by Rowdy Herrington from a story he'd overheard in college that involved a martial artist tearing out someone's throat. The infamously obscene line of taunting dialogue that Jimmy says to Dalton right before has been variously attributed to both producer Joel Silver and Teague himself. Teague claims he improvised it during a take. Whatever the truth may be, the combination of that line and that throat rip resulted in an all-time great action scene that continues to be homaged and referenced to this day. Fortunately for Swayze, Teague, and "Road House," the scene went off without a hitch, which may not have happened had Swayze gotten his wish and jumped onto that motorcycle. Pain, contrary to what Dalton espouses, does hurt, after all.