Have Fun Storming the Castle!

princess bride mapIn general, I’m not much of a nonfiction reader. I tend to be a plot-driven reader, and plot just isn’t what drives a nonfiction book. But over the past year and a half, I have broadened my horizons, listening to several celebrity memoirs and essay collections during my commute to and from work. The first three of these (Tina Fey’s Bossypants; Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me? (and Other Concerns); and Amy Poehler’s Yes, Please) were all in theme: life lessons from smart, funny women working in comedic television and movies. I’m not that well-versed in sitcoms and sketch comedy, but I enjoyed listening to these women reflect on their lives, the lessons they have learned through their work in television and comedy, and the people who helped them along the way.

This past week, I have been listening to yet another nonfiction audiobook, As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride. Written by Cary Elwes, who played Westley, the dashing hero in The Princess Bride, this book is full of behind-the-scenes stories and fond reminiscences. The Princess Bride has long been one of my favorite movies, so listening to Cary Elwes (with guest appearances by various other members of the cast) recount stories about the experience of making it has made for an enjoyable commute.

Here are some of my favorite stories shared by Elwes:

  • Andre the Giant was so big that he couldn’t easily fit in the transport vehicles, so he was given an ATV to drive between filming locations. (It was while driving this very same ATV that Cary Elwes broke his big toe – a break that would plague him throughout the rest of filming.)
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  • Billy Crystal and Carol Kane were only on set for three days to film the hilarious scene in Miracle Max’s hut. Rob Reiner gave Crystal, who was already recognized as a talented comedian, free reign to ad lib his lines. Which he did to such hilarity that Reiner actually had to leave the set because he couldn’t contain his laughter. (The line about the mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich? All Billy Crystal.)
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  • During the entire shoot, Wallace Shawn, who so perfectly portrays Vizzini, was convinced that he was going to be replaced by Danny DeVito. He was so sure of it, in fact, that he admits in the book to channeling DeVito while filming. I’m sure DeVito would have done a great job in the part, but Shawn’s performance is highly entertaining.
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  • In the scene where Count Rugen hits Westley on the head with his sword and knocks him unconscious, Christopher Guest actually did (accidentally) hit Elwes. And Elwes actually did pass out. And that cut was the one they used in the film.

For more stories about the making of The Princess Bride, make sure to check out As You Wish. If you haven’t watched The Princess Bride recently or are completely unfamiliar with this cult classic (inconceivable!), stay in this weekend and give it a viewing. Or, if you already have the whole movie memorized, try another one of these movies or TV shows starring members of the phenomenal cast.

Cary Elwes (Westley)Glory; Lady Jane; Robin Hood, Men in Tights; Saw; Twister

Billy Crystal (Miracle Max) Analyze This; City Slickers; Monsters, Inc.; Monsters University; Mr. Saturday Night; Soap; When Harry Met Sally
As Author: 700 Sundays; Grandpa’s Little One; Still Foolin’ ‘em: Where I’ve Been, Where I’m Going, and     Where the Hell are My Keys?

Peter Falk (The Grandfather)Columbo; The Great Race; Pocketful of Miracles; A Storm in Summer
As Author: Just One More Thing

Christopher Guest (Count Rugen)Best in Show; For Your Consideration; A Mighty Wind; Mrs. Henderson Presents; This is Spinal Tap

Carol Kane (Valerie)Annie Hall; Hester Street; Scrooged; Taxi

Mandy Patinkin (Inigo Montoya)Criminal Minds; Homeland; Sunday in the Park with George; Yentl

Chis Sarandon (Prince Humperdink)Child’s Play; Dog Day Afternoon; The Nightmare Before Christmas; Protocal

Wallace Shawn (Vizzini)Clueless; The Haunted Mansion; Toy Story 1, 2, & 3
As Author & PlaywrightAunt Dan & Lemon: A Play; Essays

Robin Wright (Buttercup)Forrest Gump; House of Cards; Message in a Bottle; Moneyball; Toys

Directed by Rob Reiner All In the Family; A Few Good Men; Misery; Stand By Me; This Is Spinal Tap; When Harry Met Sally; The Wolf of Wall Street

Screenplay by William GoldmanAll the President’s Men; Butch Cassidy and the Sundance KidMaverick; Misery;
Books by Goldman: The Color of Light; Heat; The Princess Bride; Which Lie Did I Tell?: More Adventures in the Screen Trade

Produced by Andy ScheinmanA Few Good Men; Misery; Stand By Me; When Harry Met Sally

Note: You may have noticed that an important name was left off the list: Andre the Giant, who played Fezzik. Andre did, in fact, have a long and successful career. However, most of his work was as a professional wrestler, hence why he isn’t on the list.

Flickr CC: Map of The Princess Bride by William Goldman Photo by: Tom B.