When The Princess Bride was first released in theaters on September 25th, 1987, it was only a moderate success. At the box office, the film nearly doubled its production budget, so it did well enough, but it never set the world on fire. The reviews of the movie were strong from the get-go, praised for its humor, its sweetness, and the performances, but the marketing of the film was troublesome. As we all know, the film is a difficult one to categorize. From the beginning, many knew that this would be the main challenge for the film. They were right. Yet, despite the confused marketing campaign and mediocre theater run, The Princess Bride would go on to age like fine wine. No one could have expected the incredible reception the film received over the years.
The Princess Bride is now 30 years old. Over the last three decades, the movie has become one of the most beloved comedies of all time, consistently ranking as one of the top films ever made in the genre. It’s movies like this one–so quotable, so over-the-top, and ones that rely on silly but effective practical effects–that tend to become cult classics. A fairytale for children, families, and adults alike, The Princess Bride has something for everyone and every mood. The rewatchability factor of the film makes it one that many fans can return to over and over again. Many have seen it countless times. Because of that, there isn’t much that true fans don’t know about it. Yet, there are some lesser-known facts and tidbits about The Princess Bride that not everyone is aware of.
Here are 15 Things You Never Knew About The Princess Bride After 30 Years.
15. The Princess Bride Is Unfilmable
Author William Goldman wasn’t far removed from writing the original screenplay for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid when he penned the book The Princess Bride. He won the Academy Award for Butch Cassidy and people expected more big things from him, so the book was highly anticipated. Because of that, as soon as he wrote The Princess Bride, 20th Century Fox paid big bucks for the rights to film it. They got to work on making it, but the head of the production at the studio was let go, so the film was put on hold. Goldman then bought the rights back and tried to find someone else to put it on the big screen. Many came, but few thought it was possible. Financing came close a number of different times, but most thought it was too grand and too difficult to translate on screen. It wasn’t until the ’80s that Rob Reiner got his hands on it and found funding from the TV giant, Norman Lear. Reiner’s quirky film style was believed to be a perfect match for the film. Indeed, it was.
14. Guest Injures Elwes
Out of all the trivia questions that The Princess Bride inspired, perhaps the best-known is the one about Cary Elwes being injured in a scene with Christopher Guest. Guest was supposed to knock him out with the hilt of his sword. In reality, Guest was only meant to tap Elwes on the head, but it looked too fake. So then Elwes assured Guest he would be okay and asked the actor to hit him harder. Guest did and this time he knocked Elwes out for real. Reiner ended up using that take for the final cut because of the realism.
13. Finding Fezzik
When Goldman first considered filming his book, he knew that the character of Fezzik would be the most challenging. He did have one person in mind though—Andre the Giant. In the ’70s, Andre was not just gigantic in stature; he was also a superstar. Goldman reached out to Andre trying to get him to read for the character when he got close to getting the film made, but Andre was always too busy. Arnold Schwarzenegger, however, was a new actor on the scene who was interested in the part. Although not as gigantic, Arnold is no tiny package. After many delays, as we’ve discussed, The Princess Bride finally got the proper team behind it. By this point, however, Arnold was a megastar and far too expensive, and Andre’s schedule had cleared up dramatically. Sometimes, things just work out for the best.
12. Chernobyl Almost Strikes Twice
When the producers got down to the casting for The Princess Bride, Cary Elwes was one of the names on the shortlist for the part of Westley. The problem was that he was off filming in Berlin at the time. This was a major issue because this was not long after the Chernobyl meltdown. As Elwes remembers it, “First of all, the [producers and filmmakers are] Jewish, and the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl had just happened and Andy was completely freaked out about it — as we all were.” At first, the filmmakers didn’t think they were going to be able to see Elwes at all, but they decided to risk it. When they showed up, Elwes ensured that he had bottled water available, just to put everyone at ease. He read a few lines from the script, did a Fat Albert impression, and the rest is history.
11. Drunk And A Rodent Of Unusual Size
During the shoot preparation, the main Rodent of Unusual Size (ROUS) was played by stunt actor Danny Blackner. At least, the 4-foot tall guy inside the 50-pound rubber rat suit was Blackner. But, the night before the day of shooting, Blackner went out and made some bad decisions. He got drunk, drove home, and was arrested. Allegedly, the story goes that Blackner described the gig that he needed to get to in the morning to the cop. The ridiculousness of his role made the story sound like a lie, earning him a free bed in the drunk tank. In the morning, when Blackner was a no-show on set, the crew set up a dummy for Elwes to wrestle instead, since there was no one else who could fit into the suit. At the last minute, Blackner showed up hungover and ready to shoot, hopefully learning a lesson from being a moron.
10. Rob Reiner: Voice Actor
Although it might not be the craziest thing you’ve heard on this list, we found it rather interesting that the man behind the noises coming out of the Rodents of Unusual Size (ROUS) are from the director himself. All that grunting, growling, and snuffling that those creepy things unleash while attacking Westley was all Rob Reiner. Originally, the noises were to come from the actor in the suit, but Reiner didn’t like the result so he decided to do it himself. Apparently, he even lost his voice because he had to make the unnatural noises so many times.
9. Spinal Tap Hat
As we discussed up above, The Princess Bride is a film that has been watched countless times by so many of its fans. There isn’t anything that has slipped by the die-hards, but there is one small Easter egg that tends to go unnoticed by the casuals. In some of the house scenes with Peter Falk and Fred Savage, next to the bed is…well…we’ll let Rob Reiner describe it.
“You see that little cap there? That’s the cap I wore in Spinal Tap. And Mark Knopfler, who wrote the score for The Princess Bride, said to me, ‘I’ll only do it if you put something from This is Spinal Tap in the movie.’ So I threw the hat in there for Marty DiBergi, and then I was lucky enough to get the guy who was the lead guitarist for Dire Straits. Here, you can hear his guitar. It’s a classical score, but his guitar work is very distinctive.”
8. Andre The Giant Drinker
Although it’s become a fact embedded in pop culture, Andre the Giant was a well-known vacuum when it came to alcohol. The stories of his ability to drink have become legendary. The man could drink more than a small village, and stories of his adventures have been told far and wide. Well, the set of The Princess Bride has one such story to contribute. On the first night of shooting for The Princess Bride, Andre got so insanely wasted that he passed out in the lobby of the hotel he was staying at. Incapable of moving him, the hotel staff simply let him sleep out the night on the ground, roping off around his ginormous body. Elwes said that the hotel staff also ensured that the cleaning crew waited until he was awake to clean.
7. Andre The Giant Farter
There are so many incredible stories that Cary Elwes told in his book, As You Wish: Tales From the Making of The Princess Bride. Perhaps the strangest of all is one devoted to Andre the Giant’s flatulence. It wasn’t the quantity of the farts that amazed those who witnessed them; it was the quality. Elwes described one such fart, the motherload, “A veritable symphony of gastric distress that roared for more than several seconds and shook the very foundations of the wood and plaster set where we were now grabbing on to out of sheer fear … The sonic resonance was so intense I even observed our sound man remove his headphones to protest his ears.” When Elwes worried that laughing at the fart would offend Andre, the Giant put him at ease, saying “It’s OK. My farts always made people laugh.”
6. Cary And The Dune Buggy
In the scene just prior to Westley being pushed down the hill, there’s a noticeable change in the way Cary Elwes walks. The day before shooting that scene, Elwes had been involved in a dune buggy accident and had injured his ankle. Reiner, when speaking of this scene and Westley’s injury, said it worked well because it made Elwes look more elegant.
Here’s what the director had to say about it, “Cary Elwes, he always walks very gingerly. Wait until he sits down and you’ll see…See the way he’s holding that leg out. Looks like it’s very elegant. That’s because he had almost broken his ankle, and he could put no weight on it. So when he sits down like that, and then when he gets up, you’d say, ‘Oh wow, look how graceful and debonair and elegant.’ But he just couldn’t put any weight on it.”
5. Elwes And Wright Had A Thing
It’s easy to see the chemistry between Buttercup and Westley in The Princess Bride. They both look so infatuated with each other. But that’s because they’re both such incredible actors, right? Well, apparently that’s only half of it. The other half is that the two were kind of falling in love on set. Remembering back on it, both stars, Cary Elwes and Robin Wright, were in agreement about their feelings. If anything, the only disagreement between them was which one of the two were more smitten. “Oh, I was so in love with him, oh, my God,” said Wright. When asked if the rumor that she requested more takes of the kissing scenes just to get some extra smooches, Wright said, “Yes, that is true.” To that, Elwes piped in, saying, “I think that was me.”
4. Andre’s Bad Back
Although Andre was very active and athletic, he suffered from acromegaly, a condition which caused him to grow to such extremes. After years of wrestling and showing off impressive feats of strength, his body also began to deteriorate. When it was time to film The Princess Bride, Andre was in near-constant pain because of a bad back and other ailments. His back pain was so severe on set that he couldn’t even allow Elwes to ride on his back, an easy task for him when he was younger. They required a stunt double for most of Andre’s action scenes. In the scene in which Buttercup drops into Andre’s arms, he needed to rest against a large plank of wood to relieve the stress and Wright jumped from just a few feet up.
3. The Sword Fight
The epic sword fight between Westley and Inigo Montoya is the highlight of the film for so many people. While most believed that stunt doubles were used for most of the fighting because of how solid the fight is, it is actually primarily the actors themselves, Elwes and Mandy Patinkin, performing in the scene. Since both actors knew that this sword fight was a very important scene, the meeting and clashing of two of the heroes, they got to work training very early on. They both trained for months on end, learning to fight with both hands. Nearly the entire fight, except for the flipping, was done by the actors. This bit of knowledge makes that scene so much better than it was before. You’re welcome.
2. Billy Crystal Is Funny
Of all the great scenes in The Princess Bride, one of the funniest, especially for the cast and crew, was the scene with Billy Crystal and Carol Kane. Crystal, a master of improvisation, just let his lines fly from his lips. The director, Reiner, was laughing so hard that he disrupted several takes, and he had to remove himself from the shoot. Elwes, who was supposed to be playing dead or mostly dead, was laughing so hard that he had to be replaced by a dummy. Mandy Patinkin was laughing so hard that he bruised a rib, the only injury he received during the shoot.
1. Scary Reception
Over the years, Reiner and the cast have told numerous stories about fan reactions and strange meetings with fans. Elwes says that women still ask him to say “as you wish” to them on the street. But, the strangest encounter has to be the one Reiner had while eating dinner with his longtime screenwriter partner, Nora Ephron, and her husband, Nick Pileggi, the screenwriter of Goodfellas. On that night, Pileggi recommended a restaurant in New York’s Little Italy, famous because John Gotti was a regular. Well, as chance would have it, Gotti was there on that evening, sitting at a nearby table with a table full of friends. Later, one of the members at the table, a man that Reiner assumed was a mobster, shouted over to Reiner saying, “You killed my father! Prepare to die!” Now, to anyone else, this would be the most frightening thing to hear a mobster yell at you, but Reiner got the joke. The man then followed that by saying, in Reiner’s words, “‘The Princess Bride!’ I love that movie!” While recalling that story, Reiner said, “I almost s**t in my pants. When you penetrate guys like that, you know you’ve made it.”
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