The Princess Bride is essentially a perfect film. The old, yet endlessly quotable movie is crammed full of heart-wrenching subplots, and it's somehow even better when you learn about some of the delightful behind-the-scenes stories. You may have watched the movie over and over, but it's a safe assumption there are still some surprising things you don't know about The Princess Bride.
It's the little things that make digging into famous film productions so enjoyable. There are so many fascinating anecdotes surrounding The Princess Bride - from actors' stories to daring stunts - everybody's favorite fantasy/comedy masterpiece, it really deserves a "making of" documentary.
Everybody has their own favorite character from The Princess Bride, but it's pretty easy to single out Mandy Patinkin's Inigo Montoya as the emotional core of the film. He's a complicated, conflicted character whose entire life has been built around avenging his father. And despite his predilection for violence, he's a decent person deep down. It's a tricky role, but Patinkin nailed his performance, and that's partially because for him it was more than a part, it was real life.
Just a few years before The Princess Bride began filming, Patinkin's father died of cancer. Patinkin took that pain and used it in his performance. It's pretty sad, but Patinkin once told NPR, "I always had it in my mind that if I could get the six fingered man, if Inigo could get the six fingered man, then my father, Patinkin's father, would come back and be with me." Knowing Patinkin's personal struggles gives Inigo's revenge scene much more poignance.
Professional wrestler turned professional actor, Andre the Giant comes across as a lovable goofball in The Princess Bride. He's huge and strong, but really he's more of a teddy bear than a Goliath. The sad thing about Andre, though, is he struggled with chronic pain for much of his life, and he self-medicated with a generous amount of alcohol.
While filming, Andre would make a drink called "The American" that was basically a 40 oz. blend of an assortment of liquors. Cary Elwes even said it tasted like airplane fuel. One time, Andre was so drunk he passed out in a hotel lobby, and since nobody could move him, the hotel management just put velvet ropes around his sleeping body.
Billy Crystal is widely regarded as one of the funniest comic actors of all time, and his role in The Princess Bride supports that claim immensely. If you just casually watch the movie, it would be hard to notice Crystal's lines were improvised. There are apparently hundreds of hilarious takes that will never see the light of day.
The material he came up with on the spot was so funny, director Rob Reiner had to leave the set because he was laughing so hard. Mandy Patinkin even bruised a rib trying to hold in his laughter during a scene.
The Princess Bride is one of those movies everybody seems to love. Even still, it's pretty surprising just how incredibly far-reaching it is. One of the biggest fans of the film was Pope John Paul II. Cary Elwes had the chance to meet the Pope a year after the film came out, and the Pope asked if Elwes was from The Princess Bride. A stunned Elwes confirmed he was, and John Paul II responded, “Very good film. Very funny.”
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the mob boss John Gotti once came up to director Rob Reiner in an Italian restaurant and yelled, “You killed my father. Prepare to die.” Reiner was afraid Gotti would actually kill him.