October 8th, 2012
05:18 PM ET
“She gets kidnapped, he gets killed. But it all turns out OK.”
So says screenwriter William Goldman in an interview featured in the extras of the new 25th anniversary Blu-ray of “The Princess Bride.”
Goldman also wrote the novel that the film is based on, and when he set out to write the book, one of his daughters asked him to write a story about a princess and the other asked him to write a story about a bride. The title was Goldman’s proverbial “As you wish” to both girls.
Rob Reiner, who directed the film adaptation, recalled last week during a panel discussion at the New York Film Festival that one of the most quotable movies of all time almost didn’t get made.
Stop saying that!
“It became this legendary project listed in a film journal as one of the great screenplays never produced,” explained Reiner.
Several notable filmmakers had been kicking the idea around for about 15 years, during which time Francois Truffaut, Norman Jewison and Robert Redford had all become involved at some point. Reiner, for whom “The Princess Bride” was his all-time favorite book, called it “what you wish you could write. It’s like somebody’s in your head voicing your feelings for you.”
Admittedly a “monster fan” of Goldman – who also wrote “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” “Marathon Man” and “All the President’s Men” – Reiner was nervous about meeting the novelist/playwright/screenwriter. Goldman, in turn, was initially skeptical of what Reiner might do to his favorite thing he’d ever written in his life. (Goldman pointed out to the crowd gathered at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall that he wants it stated as such on his tombstone.)
Goldman’s worries were soon dashed (Huzzah!), and the pair set forth to commit the charming tale to celluloid with actors Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin, Andre the Giant and a star-studded supporting cast.
CNN spoke to actor Cary Elwes (Westley) about some of his most cherished “Princess Bride” memories.
"Andre the Giant (Fezzik) was such a sweet, sweet man who had a big, big heart,” he said. “He was such a gentle giant. I mean, literally in the true meaning of the word. He was just a generous spirit. He decided on his day off that he would go all the way to France across the border... and he came back on the set with all these hors d'oeuvres for the crew to replace the craft services with pate, foie gras and wine. I think the producers were a little nervous about the wine bit. But the crew loved him for it. He was just a sweet, sweet guy."
Mandy Patinkin (Inigo Montoya) told a story about the day he, Robin Wright (Buttercup) and Wallace Shawn (Vizzini) went up the Cliffs of Insanity on Andre’s (Fezzik’s) back.
“Andre was a giant but he couldn’t lift anything,” explained Patinkin. “He couldn’t take any weight on his back. So the Cliffs of Insanity were made of rubber and there was a cleft in the middle of them; and a forklift was put in there and Andre’s feet were on the forklift; and on the forklift then there was a three-pronged bicycle seat. Robin sat on one seat, Wally (Shawn) sat on the other and I sat on the third so Andre had no weight on himself.”
Shawn, Patinkin continued, was very nervous due to a near-crippling fear of heights.
“And there he was in this papoose… on Andre’s stomach… and he was really quite frightened,” said Patinkin. “And Andre in his inevitable beauty just patted him on his head and on his back and he said ‘Don’t worry. I’ll take care of you’. He was just a beautiful man.”
You may be surprised to learn that Patinkin’s favorite line isn’t, "Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die,” although he maintained he feels privileged when fans ask him to repeat it.
Instead, the actor's favorite line is: “I have been in the revenge business so long, now that it’s over, I do not know what to do with myself.”
One of the many moral lessons of the fable: Don’t let revenge consume you.
Patinkin also talked about being on-set with Billy Crystal (Miracle Max) during the funnyman’s cameo appearance where he improvised such gems as “MLT”: mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich.
“Billy shot for three days, 10 hours a day,” said Patinkin. “He had in cataract contact lenses so he couldn’t really see… he was making up 13th-century period jokes… the only injury I received on the entire movie was I bruised a rib holding in my laughter.”
Chris Sarandon (Prince Humperdinck) recalled that he had recently met a couple who’d hired an actor and had him ordained online so that he could marry them with Peter Cooke’s (Impressive Clergyman) “Mawidge is what bwings us togevver” scene.
Upon the film’s release, Reiner had a tough time marketing “The Princess Bride” because it was kind of genre-less. Swashbuckling comedy? Charming, witty fable? Tale of love and revenge? Nothing felt right. Reiner feared he had a “Wizard of Oz” on his hands - and “The Wizard of Oz” was a flop when it first hit theaters in 1939.
It turned out Reiner was right. But while it may have bombed at the box office (Inconceivable! We keep using that word. We don’t think it means what we think it means), a quarter of a century later the director couldn’t be more delighted to witness “The Princess Bride” as it is introduced to new generations.
“You're lucky as an actor to be remembered for any movie,” Elwes told CNN. “But to have one resonate that much? I'm sure when I pass away they'll put on my tombstone, 'As you wish.’”
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