March 2, 2015

Movies We Love: The Princess Bride

Cary Elwes Speaks after Beloved Film

Elwes and Dowling

One of the biggest perks of graduating from the USC School of Cinematic Arts SCA is being exposed to great films, television shows and video games and the minds behind them. To further this mission, Movies We Love is a screening series at SCA where alumni and friends of the School bring in films to discuss with the filmmakers. On February 25th, alum Tim Dowling hosted actor and author Cary Elwes for a screening of The Princess Bride, the cult film which was rated one of the top 100 screenplays ever written by the Writer’s Guild of America. The Q and A was moderated by Director of Programming Alex Ago.

Elwes began the evening with explaining how much getting the part meant to him. "I read the book when I was 13. And of course I knew who [director] Rob Reiner was. I'd seen This is Spinal Tap probably one hundred times,” said Elwes. “I was a huge admirer of [screenwriter William] Goldman He's a man who wrote Marathon Man and Butch Cassidy and I couldn't believe that these two people would think of me to be in their film. My agent called and said, ‘Are you sitting down.’ I said, ‘Go ahead and forge my signature on the contract in case they change their mind.’"

Based on William Goldman's novel of the same name, The Princess Bride is staged as a book read by a grandfather (Peter Falk) to his ill grandson (Fred Savage). Falk's character assures a romance-weary Savage that the book has much more to deliver than a simpering love story, including but not limited to fencing, fighting, torture, death, true love, giants, and pirates. The film starred Elwes, Mandy Patinkin, Robin Wright and Andre the Giant.

Elwes spoke about the set and how Reiner asked for difficult performances from his actors, including doing the actual fencing in the scene written by Goldman in the scripts as “the greatest sword fight of all time.”

"Rob Reiner said that he didn't want any stunt doubles for the famous fencing scene,” said Elwes. “He didn't want stuntmen. He wanted us. I didn't have any fencing lessons. I had a couple of classes in acting schools but I never took it seriously. He hired two of the best guys to train with us and, after every take; they would be standing off camera with swords. We never sat down the entire time."

After the screening and Q&A, Elwes’ signed copies of his New York Times bestseller, As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride, which offers unique insights, exclusive cast interviews, and hilarious behind-the-scenes stories about the creation of the classic film.