THE TENNESSEAN - As you wish: Revisiting iconic film 'The Princess Bride,' 30 years later

Sun, 06/18/2017 - 10:00
THE TENNESSEAN - As you wish: Revisiting iconic film 'The Princess Bride,' 30 years later

As you wish: Revisiting iconic film 'The Princess Bride,' 30 years later

By Amy Stumpfl 

Cary Elwes has built an impressive list of film credits over the last 30+ years, appearing in everything from Academy Award-winner “Glory” to Mel Brooks’ campy “Robin Hood: Men in Tights” and the hit horror franchise “Saw.”

But for diehard fans, Elwes will always be best remembered as Westley, from Rob Reiner’s iconic adventure/comedy “The Princess Bride.”

And this weekend, Elwes will be at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center for “The Princess Bride: An Inconceivable Evening with Cary Elwes.” The evening includes an exclusive screening of the beloved film, along with a moderated discussion on favorite scenes and “tales of inconceivable antics.”

“I was in Nashville a few years ago for another project, and I’m so delighted to be back,” says Elwes, who was recently seen in the second season of Sony Crackle’s “The Art of More,” and can soon be seen in the feature films “The First” and “The Billionaire Boys Club” (opposite Kevin Spacey). “I love the energy, the music — it’s really a very exciting city.”

Elwes was just 23 when he starred as Westley, the handsome young farmhand-turned-swashbuckler who answers the beautiful Buttercup’s every demand with a simple “As you wish.” Despite wide-ranging appeal and an all-star cast — including Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin, Christopher Guest, Billy Crystal and more — “The Princess Bride” was not a big box office hit. But once introduced to the home video market, it soon developed a huge cult following.

The cast reunited for a special 25th anniversary screening at the New York Film Festival in 2012. And in 2014, Elwes penned his memoir “As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of 'The Princess Bride.' ”

“It’s really a love letter to the fans,” he says. “For years, people had asked me about the experience — all the stories, everything that went on behind the scenes. Was it as much fun to make the movie as it looked? And yes, it really was. So I guess I wanted to give back to the fans.”

In the book, Elwes details a number of adventures, from his first meeting with director Rob Reiner to breaking his toe early in production. He also talks about the extensive training he and co-star Mandy Patinkin went through in order to create what has been described as “the greatest sword fight in modern times.”

“I had never trained before, but from the beginning Rob said he wanted the sword fight to be very realistic — no stunt doubles or stand-ins. So we really put in a lot of time. It was quite challenging, but I really enjoyed it.”

When asked about favorite scenes, Elwes just laughs.

“Oh, there’s no way I could choose just one. The entire process was so much fun. And all these years later, we’re still connected by this incredible thing called ‘The Princess Bride.’ The fans are so incredible. I’m constantly amazed by how many people have included ‘The Princess Bride’ as part of their wedding, or have named their children after the characters. There are so many Westleys out there.”

Elwes says he waited until his own daughter was 8 to share the film, “fast-forwarding through the scary parts,” including the R.O.U.S.’s (Rodents of Unusual Size).

“But she really enjoyed it — for the same reasons we all do. It’s just such fun. And I think that’s part of its lasting success. It’s a family film — everyone can sit down together and enjoy it on their own level. That’s really rare today.”