In the first five minutes of the classic film The Princess Bride, a very young Fred Savage is playing a 1980s baseball video game. I hadn’t seen the movie since the advent of Playstation, Xbox, and Wii, and it never struck me as something that might stand out. But this week, sitting in a theater of mega Princess Bride fans — including some who were in costume for the occasion and many who had brought youngsters with them for their first big-screen experience of the film — that beginning moment got one of the biggest laughs of the night. That was even before Cary Elwes showed up afterward to share some secrets from the long-ago set, and what it was like being in such a beloved film. All this nostalgia is in honor of the Arclight movie theaters’ 10th anniversary, which are hosting a series of surprise fan Q&A sessions and screenings with stars of classic films.
While Elwes hasn’t had the massive on-screen career that some people predicted back in 1987, he’s worked consistently, most recently appearing on TV in Psych and on the big screen as the hot doctor competing with Ashton Kutcher for Natalie Portman’s affection in No Strings Attached. At the Q&A, his golden locks were still floppy and he was good humored about taking some ridiculous questions from fans. He’s fine with being Westley forever, and joked that his tombstone will probably say “As you wish.”
Here are a few tidbits about The Princess Bride from the man in black himself:
+ He hasn’t seen the film since its premiere in 1987, but he plans to share it with his daughter (who’s now five) when she’s old enough.
+ Elwes had never fenced before — and then they told him he had to be left-handed!
+ Wallace Shawn (Vizzini) was nervous he’d be fired the whole time they were filming the Battle of Wits scene. Elwes said Sean had heard that Danny Devito was the other choice and he was worried he’d be replaced. “But you look at him now and he’s irreplaceable. Inconceivably irreplaceable!”
+ Rob Reiner told Elwes and Mandy Patinkin (Inigo Montoya) that he wanted the sword-fighting scene to be longer. Elwes said they watched a bunch of sword-fighting movies and decided to beat the record for ‘longest swordfight’ held by Scaramouche. They did.
+ Robin Wright has an “incredible ear” for accents.
+ Elwes came up with the idea of Westley being “half dead,” which made life hard for Andre the Giant in those final scenes where he’s carrying Westley around the castle.
+ He has never said “as you wish” to his wife when she asks him to do something.
What are your favorite Princess Bride memories, PopWatchers?