“The Princess Bride” is a movie that tells several simple stories; about the relationship between a grandfather and a grandson, about a son avenging a father’s death, about the misdeeds some people are willing to commit in order to gain power. But, most of all, it tells a timeless story about the power of true love.
The 1987 hit film has risen to the level of cult classic, its lines instantly recognizable and highly quotable.
There was the character Westley’s “As you wish,” a phrase he repeated to his true love, Buttercup, throughout the film.
And who could forget this?
“Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” This from Spanish fencing virtuoso Montoya – played by Mandy Patinkin – as he seeks to punish his father’s killer.
Throw in a giant, a prince, a six-fingered man, sword fights, fire swamps, fearsome rodents of unusual size and a pair of miracle makers, and, voila, instant classic. There’s even a president among the legions of admirers.
“I met President Clinton and he told me he was a fan. … I thought, you know, when he said, ‘I know exactly who you are’ I thought, ‘Oh, God, what’s in my FBI file?’ And he goes, ‘No no, it’s not what you think, I’m a big fan of ‘The Princess Bride,’” Cary Elwes, who played Westley, the movie’s farm boy turned pirate, told Dan Harris of “Good Morning America” when Entertainment Weekly got the cast together again.
“The Princess Bride” wasn’t an immediate blockbuster, but its appeal is universal decades later.
“How often do people come up to you and recite a line?” Harris asked the actors in the interview that aired today on “GMA.”
Quipped Elwes: “I think when I die, they’ll say on my gravestone, ‘As you wish.’ Every woman wants to hear that.”
Wallace Shawn played the Sicilian criminal genius, Vizzini, who had a penchant for shouting the word “inconceivable.” Asked how often fans approach him, he replied: “Daily.”
Billy Crystal played Miracle Max (next to Carol Kane, who played his wife, Valerie). Miracle Max memorably expressed his love for “a nice MLT — mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich, where the mutton is nice and lean.”
Crystal, who actually ad-libbed that line on the set, said fans haven’t forgotten it.
Just the other day, while he was out for a meal, someone reminded him of it in an expected way.
“And these are the ones that you respect because they … they’ll find the little line that they like, and he said, he whispered in my ear, ‘Is it lean?’” Crystal recalled, sparking laughter from his cast mates.
Then, there was the unforgettable kiss at the end of the movie. Robin Wright, who played Buttercup, acknowledged that her co-star’s looks made her nervous.
Wright said she asked for another take of that scene. All the while, she was thinking ,”Can they see my heart beating so fast because he’s so cute. Wesley’s so cute.”
For die-hard fans of the movie, here’s a little-known fact: Actor Danny DeVito was actually director Rob Reiner’s first choice to play the role of Vizzini. That put a lot of pressure on Shawn, and he was palpably nervous during filming of the movie.
It couldn’t have helped that he had his biggest scene – where he faced Westley and told him to “never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line” – on the first day.
Wrestling legend Andre the Giant played Fezzik, a Turkish giant and loyal friend to Montoya. Arguably the most popular member of the cast, he died in 1993, but his cast mates remember him with love.
Wright recalled how, in between takes, her lovable cast mate would put his hands on her head to keep her warm during the cold shoots in England. “It was the sweetest thing,” she said.
And then there was that other time when he’d had a little too much wine to drink.
“He went through a bunch. And he passed out in the lobby of the Dorchester Hotel. So he’s, he’s just out,” Crystal said.
“Housekeeping came,” added Elwes, picking up the tale.
The entire cast laughs at the memory.
“So Rob [Reiner] gets a call, there’s a, you know, Gulliver basically washed up here. You know, and he’s fast asleep. And it’s, you know, people are going to be coming in at eight in the morning for breakfast and there’s a seven-foot-seven giant,” Crystal said, continuing the story and imitating Andre’s snores. “Oh, they called a cab. They called a – this is totally true. And a Pakistani cab driver in a Renault pulled up and saw him, ‘I cannot get him into my car. I cannot get that into my car. How can I get that into my car?’”
Asked why they thought the film remained so popular nearly 25 years after its initial release, Chris Sarandon, who played the evil Prince Humperdinck, said he believed the movie had a timeless appeal for viewers across generational lines.
Crystal said he thought the success was because of the right combination of factors.
“A great screenplay. It was the perfect cast,” he said. “The perfect director. It’s the perfect movie for us. For me, I’m so proud to be in it with everybody.”