BEVERLY HILLS, CALIF. — When “The Princess Bride” was released in 1987, it really was only a modest success, but over the years — as was the case with “It’s A Wonderful Life” — the movie, based on William Goldman’s novel has become a hit with fans around the world. Today it is ranked by the American Film Institute as one of the top 100 Greatest Love Stories, “The Princess Bride” has earned it’s place in the hearts of millions. Now, Cary Elwes, who starred as Westley in the film, has written “As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of ‘The Princess Bride.” When we spoke the other day, the actor explained why he felt the need to write this behind-the-scenes book.
“First of all, this movie had such a huge impact on my life. It gave me the career I have today.
“I also wanted to write a love letter to the film, to my colleagues who made it with me, and to the fans. That’s why I wrote it.”
Asked if had kept a diary back in the late 1980s when he filmed “The Princess Bride,” Elwes admitted he had not. “In fact, I was concerned I wouldn’t have enough memories from that time. But Norman Lear [an executive producer on the film] helped me. He gave me all the call sheets [the film’s daily shooting schedule’s rundown] and that really helped to trigger my memory.”
Plus virtually everyone involved with the movie talked to Elwes and his co-writer Joe Layden as they worked on the project, including director Rob Reiner, producer Andrew Scheinman, author Goldman, who also wrote the screenplay, plus Elwes’ co-stars Chris Sarandon, Christopher Guest, Robin Wright, Carol Kane, Billy Crystal, Wallace Shawn and Mandy Patinkin.
Everyone participated. Is that not a blessing, or what?” said Elwes. “No one turned me down. Everyone wanted to share how blessed we were to have gone on this journey together.”
Asked why he thinks “The Princess Bride” has earned it’s niche as such a popular film, Elwes thought a moment and then said, “I think it’s a number of things. I think it was a tsunami of talent all coming together at one time — from the brilliant writing of Bill Goldman to Rob Reiner’s inspired direction to that incredible cast I was surrounded with.
In addition, I think it’s a sweet film about true love, but it’s also a family movie and it’s very, very funny. It’s a movie that whole families can sit down and watch together and enjoy for what it is.”
Already, Elwes has been out around the country at various early booksignings and other author events for “As You Wish,” the title, naturally, one of the most quoted of many frequently-quoted lines from the film. “It took the publishers all of oh, about two minutes to figure out that title,” said Elwes with a laugh. “It was just so obvious.”
As he’s met fans of the film who are eager to buy his book, Elwes has learned all kinds of things from “The Princess Bride” affectianados. “People have tattoos inspired by the film. There are wedding photographs with ‘The Princess Bride’-themed marriages. Children have been named for favorite characters. The same has been true for cats and dogs and all kinds of pets.
“I had one person come up to tell me, ‘I’ve named my car Westley.’ It’s delightful, it really is, but sometimes it is a bit overwhelming.”
In the process of writing his book, Elwes also learned that among the film’s high-profile fans is former President Bill Clinton.
“He discovered it by watching it with Chelsea. Apparently it was her favorite film to watch with her father, when she was a little girl,” said Elwes.
It’s lovely to have been part of something that continues to give joy to generation after generation of families. That’s something I truly treasure.