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How Vanessa Hudgens Envisioned the Role of Rizzo in ‘Grease: Live’

Tell Us about it. Vanessa Hudgens shared with Us Weekly and other reporters at a Television Critics Association panel last month how she envisioned her role as Betty Rizzo in Fox’s Grease: Live, and remained true to form during the Sunday, January 31, production.

“I honestly can’t remember the first time I saw Grease,” the former Disney star, 27, said on January 15. “I feel like Grease has just always been a part of my life. It’s always been on in my house. I can’t remember my life before Grease, almost.”

Related: PHOTOS: Disney Stars Through the Years

The role of Rizzo was immortalized in 1978 by actress Stockard Channing, and her tough-as-nails exterior held special meaning for Hudgens on Sunday night. The actress’ father, Gregory, passed away from stage IV cancer just one day before the three-hour show debuted on Fox.

At the TCAs last month, the High School Musical star shared her present-day interpretation of the character. “I have really grown to love her. She’s a badass,” Hudgens elaborated. “She has a really tough shell, but inside she’s got a tender heart — but she’s not going to let anyone see it unless she wants them to.”

Related: PHOTOS: Stars Gone Too Soon

That included how Hudgens viewed Rizzo’s pregnancy scare, a controversial plot point back when the original musical debuted on Broadway in 1971. 

Hudgens as Rizzo in ‘Grease: Live.’ Fox

“Rizzo still thinks she gets pregnant,” the actress said. “I think that’s the thing that’s so great about playing Rizzo. Even though Grease does have this fun lightheartedness about it, there’s some real stuff that’s going on. And Rizzo does still have a pregnancy scare, and that’s one thing that I think roots her into this kind of, like, darker attitude that she has. So I feel like it’s very important to Rizzo, and it’s still there.”

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