Pals: Patrick & Lisa Swayze Are 'Each Other's Rocks'

01/15/2009 at 07:05 AM EST

Pals: Patrick & Lisa Swayze Are 'Each Other's Rocks'
Lisa Niemi and Patrick Swayze
Courtesy Patrick and Lisa Swayze
Adamant about filming his new series The Beast while undergoing chemotherapy, Patrick Swayze had a secret weapon on the Chicago set to help him through: his wife Lisa.

"I think we were all very moved by the closeness and humor of their relationship," Beast producer John Romano tells PEOPLE in its latest cover story, on sale Friday.

Accompanying her husband, 56, to work every day during the workweek while he was undergoing regular chemotherapy sessions for pancreatic cancer, Lisa, 52, had a tremendous influence on Swayze's work.

"He has said she's half responsible for the creation of [Charles] Barker," says Beast co-creator Vincent Angell of Swayze's FBI agent character on the A&E series, which premieres Thursday.

Creative Partnership

"They're a creative partnership," he adds. "After takes, he would go talk to the director, and then go talk to his wife, and say, 'What do you think?' And she would lean in his ear," says co-creator Bill Rotko, "They're each other's rocks."

Pals: Patrick & Lisa Swayze Are 'Each Other's Rocks'| Health, Patrick Swayze

Swayze in a scene from The Beast

Jean Whiteside

Swayze's tendency to consult his wife while working progressed toward her directing an episode. "The great compliment to Lisa is that she got through a seven-day schedule in five days," says Romano. "Patrick was the least of her problems."

Beyond her professional skills, Lisa "has a quality about her," says Rotko. "When you're around her, you feel a warmth coming from her. In a cold Chicago winter, that was helpful."

For much more on this story, pick up the new issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

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