Atria Books

Overanalyzing Cary Elwes’ New ‘Princess Bride’ Book for Traces of Shade


The Dread Pirate Roberts, aka Westley the farm boy, aka dreamboat Cary Elwes, the very first crush of probably a whole generation of girls (myself included), has a new book out called As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales From the Making of The Princess Bride. It is a charming, funny memoir, filled with the then-23-year-old’s reminiscences of just what it was like to make a classic and to go drinking with Andre the Giant. It’s also a really “nice” book, characterized by sweet, “we were all friends” memories, to the point that it’s hard not to muck around for the subtext: Who was Elwes in love with? Who did he kind of, sort of hate? It’s time to break down the veiled shade in every bit of this family fun.

Elwes on Mandy Patinkin:

The relationship between Elwes and Mandy Patinkin, who played Inigo Montoya (as in, “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die”), was forged over sword-fighting practice for the film. When they first met, Elwes asked Patinkin if he had experience with fencing. Patinkin said no. “I figured we’d be going in raw, the two of us. It was only later on that I discovered that he had not only been training for two whole months in the U.S. and was, thus, already way ahead of me in the training process…” Elwes goes on to discus how “competitive” Patinkin was, and how he needed to “be on his toes” with him, as they’d be using pointed swords for their sword fight.

Later Elwes mentions that “Mandy and I could not develop much camaraderie during this time because, for the most part, they kept us separated.” That’s not evidence in itself of antipathy, but after pages about how Patinkin was outfoxing him in practice and the idea that Patinkin was an insecure actor, though? The result is that line feels a little bit like Elwes gently shading Patinkin. But who knows, I could be reading too much into it.

Rob Reiner on Mandy Patinkin:

Mandy is a great actor, but you know, every actor is insecure… With Mandy, though, at that time he would carry his insecurities on his sleeve. It would be out there.

Elwes on Robin Wright:

But, to be honest, I couldn’t concentrate on much of anything anyone was saying to me after that first encounter with Robin. An intelligent and beautiful young woman who loves Monty Python playing opposite me as Buttercup? Wow, I thought, does it get much better than that?

Towards the end, he writes about how they kept making sure that there were multiple takes of the final scene, Westley and Buttercup’s climatic kiss:

As I have said I loved her then and I will always love her. And we will always remain close because what we shared was a unique bond: for that brief, shining moment in time, we were Westley and Buttercup. A fairy tale love that will forever be immortalized on screen.

Wallace Shawn on Wallace Shawn:

The harshest words in the book, however, are from Wallace Shawn, talking about his very own iconic and inconceivable performance as Vizzini:

I knew that I was wrong for the part because for whatever reason I had been informed by someone in my agency that it had first been offered to Danny DeVito and then to Richard Dreyfus and that they had both turned down the part… And before every single shot of the film I imagined how Danny would’ve played it so much better than I could. I was haunted by that during every single shot of the film.

Elwes on William Goldman:

Genius. “A very genteel, big-hearted guy.” No shade necessary.