This weekend, Lifetime is debuting the biopic Olivia Newton-John: Hopelessly Devoted to You. The made-for-television movie explores the actress and singer’s public persona and private life, including her multiple battles with cancer.
Newton-John is probably most known for playing good-girl Sandy Dumbrowski opposite John Travolta’s Danny Zuko in the 1978 classic musical Grease, and for singing many of the soundtrack’s catchy tunes. The 70-year-old Australian, who began her showbiz career in the early 1970s, has also had a number of hit singles on music charts across the globe, including “Physical,” “Magic,” and “I Honestly Love You.”
Playing the icon in the Lifetime movie is Australian singer, songwriter, and actress Delta Goodrem. While the 34-year-old is not well-known in America, she’s a huge star Down Under. She rose to fame in the early 2000s playing Nina Tucker on the country’s notorious soap opera Neighbours, and has had five chart-topping albums since her debut record, Innocent Eyes, dropped in 2003. She has been a coach on the Australian version of The Voice since the show began airing in 2012 (except for Season 3). Goodrem is also known for dating a bevy of celebrities, including tennis player Mark Philippoussis, Westlife singer Brian McFadden, and Nick Jonas.
Before taking on the lead role in Olivia Newton-John: Hopelessly Devoted to You, she checked with the legendary star, who she calls a “national treasure,” to make sure she had her approval. Newton-John has been one of Goodrem’s idols since she was a child and has become a mentor and dear friend over the years.
“There were many conversations and, as time went on, she said, ‘I really want you to do this,'” Goodrem told Parade.
“So, then when I had her blessing to do it, I took it with great pride — slightly terrified — but realized that I love her so much that I took it with the idea of protecting her, too. I really wanted it to be something she could love.”
Goodrem recorded her own versions of several of Newton-John’s hit songs for the Lifetime film, and even got the legend to duet with her on “Love is a Gift” and “Let Me Be There.”
“I was very, very adamant that the songs had to stay true to the original, because why would I mess with them when they’re so magical,” she said.
One of the two things the blondes have in common, unfortunately, is that they have both battled cancer. Goodrem was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma when she was just 18-years-old, and Newton-John has battled cancer three times.
In an interview with Glamour, she said that Newton-John told her that one day she would understand that the disease was “a gift to give strength to people.”
Meanwhile, Goodrem said that her favorite era to visit as Newton-John was the ’70s, according to TV Insider.
“I love dressing that era,” she said before quickly adding that the ’80s “were so much fun, too.”
Olivia Newton-John: Hopelessly Devoted to You premieres on Lifetime on Saturday, February 16, at 8 p.m.