Cary Elwes celebrates the 25th anniversary of ‘The Princess Bride’
Twenty five years later, Westley remains as you wish.
"It's just really timeless," Cary Elwes told Yahoo! Movies of "The Princess Bride," now available on an anniversary-edition Blu-ray. The 49-year-old actor starred in the 1987 film as the swashbuckling, half-dead Westley. And he admitted he hasn't seen it since it first came out -- until last night during a reunion event in New York attended by Robin Wright (wearing a chic new pixie cut), Billy Crystal, director Rob Reiner, Mandy Patinkin and several other cast members. "It was fantastic. It was great to see everyone again," he said.
Almost everyone was there except for two of the classic film's stars who are sadly missed -- the late Peter Falk and André the Giant, who have passed away.
Elwes remembers André, who died in 1993, as "a very sweet man." Elwes recalled that on some of his days off from filming, André, who was also a famous professional wrestler at the time, would go home to France to see his family and friends, and he came back with food for the crew. "We didn't have very good catering back in those days. He came back with foie gras and pâté and baguettes. And the crew just loved him for that. He brought crates of the stuff back," Elwes said, adding, "Everyone ate really well."
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Incidentally, William Goldman wrote the part of Fezzik specifically for André and urged Reiner to track him down for an audition. "It's not like you have a casting call and you have a ton of giants show up," Elwes quipped. Rob met him in Paris with a few lines from the script, Elwes said, and he "was completely bowled over by him -- not just by his incredible size but by his enormous personal charm." André got the job on the spot. But there was a bit of confusion as the giant man thought the one page of dialogue was all he would perform in the movie. "Rob had to explain to him, 'No no no. André, that's just one scene. You're in the whole movie,'" Elwes recalled. "That was quite a revelation for André. He's like [in his dead-on Andre voice], 'Okay boss. Whatever you want.'"
Elwes remembered his famous sword fighting scenes with Patinkin, who played Spaniard on a mission, Inigo Montoya. Reiner didn't want stunt doubles, so Elwes and Patinkin did all of it -- even the wide shots. And that meant a lot of work. "We never really got to sit down on the set," he said, explaining that he and Patinkin didn't have a chance to convene with the other actors in between scene setups. "Every time we went to sit down the sword trainers would come and grab us. We worked through lunch, worked through dinner. We really applied ourselves to it so by the time we came to shoot it, we were pretty proficient."
But once they showed their skills to Reiner, they were directed to extend the length of their fight because it was too short. Elwes then decided to emulate what was then the longest sword fight in cinematic history -- 1952 adventure drama with Janet Leigh and Stewart Granger "Scaramouche." "Whether we beat it or not, I'm very proud," he said, pointing out another film record he says is safe to say he and Patinkin hold. "I don't think I know any other movie where people fight with both their right and left hand. So I think that's definitely a first right there."
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Everyone was on top of their game, said Elwes. But that didn't mean they weren't messing up takes with giggles. Elwes said he and Patinkin blew a few takes but the person who made the most gaffes was actually, on his count, Reiner. "I think Rob ruined more than anyone because Rob's laugh --you can hear it in Detroit, you know? So the sound people asked him to leave the set... We got a few takes without Rob even there. He left the sound stage."
Billy Crystal and Christopher Guest -- both being friends of Reiner -- were allowed to experiment with ad-libbing while filming, but not many made the final cut, Elwes said. "The script was very specific, even the ad libs." Elwes said Guest and Crystal got about three in, including Crystal's famed "MLT" sandwich invention: "a mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich." As for Elwes' personal stamp on "Princess Bride," he came up with his physical reaction to being half-dead, as they say in the film, "mostly dead." "Yes. That was my idea," he said, further explaining, "I realized there was really only one way to play that. I couldn't suddenly be half dead and suddenlly be alive. And Rob loved it."
One thing that struck Elwes the most about Tuesday night's reunion event screening was watching screenwriter William Goldman, who was "truly physically, visibly moved by the experience... He was absolutely flabbergasted. He'd never seen it with an audience like that before." It was certainly the first time the cast had been together in the same room to view it publicly, Elwes said. "It was a very momentous evening... I was really touched to see [that]."
The 25th anniversary edition Blu-ray of "The Princess Bride" is available now. Limited edition "Princess Bride" memorabilia is also available through Mercy Corps, a global aid agency aimed at long-term solutions to help end poverty around the world.
Watch film clips from 'The Princess Bride':
Clip: As You Wish Clip: Battle of Wits
Clip: Mostly Dead Clip: Hello, My Name is Inigo Montoya
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