As You Wish

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Cary Elwes Discusses New Book & Magic of “The Princess Bride”

By Rebecca Barnes

As You Wish CoverRecently the opportunity to interview Cary Elwes, perhaps best known as Westley/Dread Pirate Roberts in “The Princess Bride,” came across my desk. Based on the 1973 novel by William Goldman, the film has worked its way into my family’s vernacular, with us regularly quoting the film. “I’m not a witch, I’m your wife!” is a personal favorite.

Elwes shared with Prince William Living some of the stories behind his new book “As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride,” due out Oct. 2014. He talked about the fun and adventure that took place during the movie and that still follows him today. He also answered reader questions about his career and costars.

PWL: Tell us about the experience of being with Mel Brooks, [who directed Elwes in “Robin Hood: Men in Tights”]as he made his handprints outside the Chinese Theatre.

Elwes: It was a long time coming. Mel is a legend. He has made some of the most classic comedy films of all times and he deserves to be recognized. It was great to see him and experience it with him. If you go online and look up his prints, you can see how funny he made it. I won’t give it away, but it’s very funny what he did.

PWL: One of our writers asked me to ask you about the writing process, and what spurred you to write the book?

Elwes: The book was prompted by the fact that myself and the rest of the cast, Rob Reiner, always get asked: What was it like to make the film? What was it like working with Andre [the Giant]? How long did you rehearse the sword fight for? Was it fun on the set? What was Rob like to work with? What was it like shooting scenes with Billy Crystal? It’s endless in a wonderful way, because the fans just want to know more.  It’s been 25 years plus, and I was approached by Simon and Schuster. I felt it was a good opportunity, while my memory is still intact, to get as many of the questions answered for the fans and share with them how much fun it really was for all of us to make the film. It’s really my love letter to the filmmakers and my fellow cast.

PWL: One of the things that came across in the book was how difficult it was to get it to film, and how few people saw it in the theater. Do you feel surprised at all, that it has such a following?

Elwes: You’re blessed as an actor to have any of your films resonate with an audience, and we are blessed several times over with this movie. I call this film the gift that keeps on giving. I meet families, grandparents, parents, kids, grandkids who come with their tattered VHS copies for me to sign. They recount how it’s become a family tradition to sit around the TV and watch this movie. It’s a beautiful thing!

PWL: Before Simon & Schuster had come to you, had you considered writing a book?

Elwes: No! I have enormous admiration for writers. I couldn’t have done it alone. I shared the writing credits, the whole process, with a wonderful writer named Joe Layden and all the cast contributed as well. So it is really the quintessential “making-of book” because it includes the cast recounting their memories and some wonderful pictures from Rob Reiner and Norman Lear’s archives.

PWL:  Have you written any screenplays?

Elwes: I have. I wrote one that looks like it is going to be produced, about Elvis and Nixon, and am currently working on another, a second one, but can’t really talk about it… I love writing, I do love it. I am not very good at it but I do love doing it.

PWL: I say that all the time. Have you been approached to team with Robin Wright?

Elwes: We did one movie, A Christmas Carol, for Rob Zemeckis. Our roles are so iconic, it is difficult to have us in other projects together because people see us as Westley and Buttercup.  It’s a wonderful thing, but it makes it difficult to do other things together. I adore her and follow her career with great eagerness to see what she is up to next.

PWL: Because of the nature of Prince William Living magazine, which focuses on quality of life and community issues, tell us about your favorite not-for-profit charities.

Elwes: On the 25th anniversary [of the film], Rob and myself and Robin got together and helped to raise money and awareness for Mercy Corps. After a man-made or natural disaster, and the other nonprofits have [already]done the wonderful work of providing food and shelter and medical aid and basic necessities, Mercy Corps helps rebuild their community, helping them get back on their feet, by providing microloans, finding local craftsmen to open stores. Audrey Hepburn once said, “Give a person a fish and you will feed them for a day; give them a fishing rod and feed them for a lifetime.”  [Mercy Corps’] basic mentality is how to get these communities self-sustaining after they have had their livelihoods destroyed by a natural or man-made disaster.

PWL: We received a lot of questions for you that are already answered in the book, so I would encourage readers to get a copy.

Elwes: I think fans will have all of their questions answered in the book and many more. There are so many behind-the-scenes tales that nobody knows about, including things I didn’t know about. When I saw Mandy’s [Patinkin, who played Inigo Montoya]  interview for the first time, I was pleasantly surprised by a story he recounted about how he and I had to come up with a brand new sword-fighting sequence because [the original]didn’t work for the camera. We had to re-choreograph it right there, in 20 minutes, after training and rehearsing it for months!

PWL: I was touched when you shared that your grandfather passed while you were filming Princess Bride and how you got through with the support of your castmates. It showed the comradery you shared.

Elwes: It’s a family; when you go on a movie set you have an extended family for a period of time. It is a wonderful little community. If you are lucky, if you are blessed, you find yourself in this extended family that are just truly wonderful and sweet and nurturing and giving and caring and everyone is in it together. And you can tell…We had a perfect storm, if you will, of good will. It starts with the written word. And here is Bill Goldman who wrote a love story to his two daughters. He said, “I’m going to write you both a book, what would you like it to be about?” One of them said “Princess” and the other said “Brides.” So here is this love story from this sweet man to his kids. When you start with that, that good will and that good intention and that sweet heart, we were in good shape from day one, because it came from the heart.

“As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride” is due out Oct. 15 and is available for purchase on Amazon.  For more on Cary, follow him on Twitter: @Cary_Elwes, Instagram: Cary_Elwes, and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ActorCaryElwes. For more information about Mercy Corps, visit www.mercycorps.org.

 

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