17 Inconceivable Stories From The Set Of 'The Princess Bride'

17 Inconceivable Stories From Set Ofthe Princess Bride

The classic film ' The Princess Bride ' has a place in everyone's heart (and if you're not fond of it yourself, double check and make sure you have a heart at all, pal). You can more than likely recite several lines of dialogue from Rob Reiner's 1987 movie, whether it's Vizzini's (Wallace Shawn) exclamation of 'inconceivable!' Inigo Montoya's (Mandy Patinkin) revenge mantra 'My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die,' Westley's (Cary Elwes) loving 'as you wish,' or any of the film's other noteworthy utterances from William Goldman's screenplay.

What you probably didn't know is that Andre the Giant once spent the night in a hotel lobby, surrounded by velvet ropes, that Patinkin has a lot more in common with Inigo Montoya than initially meets the eye and that 'The Princess Bride' almost never made it to the screen at all.

Thanks to Elwes' new memoir, ' As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales From the Making of 'The Princess Bride' ' we have hundreds of pages of new behind the scenes tidbits from the making of the movie to feast upon. The book is out October 14.

Ahead, check out 17 stories from Elwes' book that'll make you feel like you were there filming with Westley, Buttercup, Inigo and the rest.

1. Arnold Schwarzenegger Was Once Attached To Play Fezzik

Director Norman Jewison was once hoping to make 'The Princess Bride' as an indie film, but couldn't raise the money. His Fezzik was none other than the young Governator.

2. Andre The Giant Worked From Tape

According to Elwes, Andre, who played Fezzik, was so nervous about his part and shy about English being his second language that he had producer Andy Scheinman record all of Fezzik's lines on tape so he could mimic the readings. 'He was great,' Scheinman said.

3. 'The Princess Bride' Was William Goldman's Favorite

At the first reading of the script, author William Goldman, who also wrote the film adaptation, said, 'Normally I don't care much for any of my work. But this one is different. it is my favorite thing I've ever written in my life. So if I appear a little nervous, that's the reason.' He wrote the story as a bedtime tale for his two daughters.

4. Andre The Giant Was An Immovable Force...Literally

One night after shooting, Andre, who had a tough time getting his 540-lb body drunk, closed out the hotel bar. At last call, he passed out in the lobby. Housekeepers had no choice but to place a velvet rope around him and let him sleep it off. When he awoke around 10 a.m., 'he was apparently nonplussed by all this,' Elwes wrote, and headed home.

5. Mandy Patinkin Had Something Else In Common With His Character

Patinkin, whose father died in 1972, read the script in 1986. Beyond the motivation of a great part in a funny movie, the actor read more into the role. 'I read that script and I wanted to play Inigo because my mind immediately went, If I can get that six-fingered man, then I'll have my father back, in my imaginary world. He'll be alive in my imagination. So that was it for me.'

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6. That 'And I Am Not Left-Handed' Moment Was A Little Close To Home

Elwes and Patinkin trained with master swordsmen in every free minute they had on set, months of training culminating in the swordfight scene. Elwes was a complete novice to swordfighting, and Patinkin claimed to be as well. 'I figured we'd be going in raw, the two of us,' Elwes wrote. Except. Except for the fact that Patinkin had been training on his own for two months before shooting started, wanting to get an edge.

7. One Of The 'Pretty Basic' Stunts Was En Fuego

In the first day of shooting, Elwes was told to expect a 'very simple scene' with 'pretty basic stuff.' That stuff involved the revelation that Westley was in fact the Dread Pirate Roberts, carrying Buttercup through a swamp, and 'then all you have to do,' according to Reiner, 'is save Robin from the fire.' All in a day's work. Goldman, who was on set, was unaware that Wright's dress was meant to catch fire and ruined a take when he screamed, 'her dress is on fire!' in a panic.

8. There Was At Least One Divine Interruption

Author Goldman was invited to hang around the set, but at one point was told he'd need to stop audibly praying while the actors were filming. He was so nervous about how the film would turn out that he was muttering what Elwes described as 'what sounded like some sort of strange incantation or chanting of some kind,' audible on the soundtrack. Goldman explained it away as, 'I was just a little excited I guess.'

9. Not Everyone Realized Andre Was A Gentle Giant -- Including Robin Wright

Andre told producer Scheinman that children had mixed reactions to his massive presence. 'Half of them run away when they see me, half jump on my lap.' Robin Wright reportedly 'completely freaked out' when she met him, running out of her dressing room panicked.

10. Everyone Farts, But It's Louder When You're A Giant

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One of Elwes' most vivid on-set anecdotes involved the scene when Westley is meant to be paralyzed, before storming the castle. Andre let a little juice loose mid-scene. Elwes describes it best:

'I suppose you wouldn't expect a man of Andre's proportions to pass gas quietly or unobtrusively, but this particular one was truly epic, a veritable symphony of gastric distress that roared for more than several seconds and shook the very foundations of the wood and plaster set we were now grabbing on to out of sheer fear. It was long enough and loud enough that every member of the crew had time to stop what they were doing and take notice. All I can say is that it was a wind that could have held up in comparison to the one Slim Pickens emitted in the campfire scene in Mel Brooks 'Blazing Saddles,' widely acknowledged as the champion of all cinematic farts.'

Enough said.

11. The Princess Hibachi

The food in the town of Sheffield, where most of the shooting was done, was somewhat bland according to Elwes. Tired of having the same meal over and over again, director Reiner decided to have a Hibachi grill installed in his hotel room. 'At the end of each day he would invite us all to gather in his suite and share the hamburgers and hot dogs he grilled for us in his room. It was great fun, with Chris, Rob and Many crooning harmonies to Rob's favorite Doo-Wop songs as he flipped burgers on the grill,' Elwes wrote.

12. Being A Giant Is Good For A Lot Of Things

Being a giant evidently not only meant that Andre could put away drinks in an impressive manner and lift large things, it was also great for keeping warm. Andre would be sweating, while Wright would often be shivering. Elwes wrote that the two worked out a plan: 'Andre, sweetheart of a man that he was, devised a technique to keep her warm which was very simple really. He would use one of his hands as a hat on top of Robin's head. She said it was like having a giant hot water bottle up there and it certainly did the trick and he didn't even mess up her hair!'

13. Danny DeVito Haunted Wallace Shawn

Wallace Shawn, who played Vizzini, heard that Danny Devito and Richard Dreyfuss had both turned down the part before he took it. 'I knew that Danny would understand the sense of humor that was called for by the script and would have done such a beautiful job,' Shawn said. 'And before every single shot of the film I imagined how Danny would have played it so much better than I could. I was haunted by that during every single shot of the film. So, if any agents are reading this book, my advice to them is, don't tell your client that he's the third choice.' Elwes wrote that Shawn was 'a veritable bundle of nerves from day one, starting with the table read all the way through to his final day of shooting.'

14. Grandma, Is That You?

Billy Crystal told his makeup artist that he wanted his look for Miracle Max to be 'a cross between Casey Stengel and his grandmother,' according to Elwes.

15. Dangerous Laughter

Billy Crystal was not only a hit with audiences, he cracked the cast up during filming as well. Even Reiner was unable to stop laughing and ruining takes, so he'd leave the room after calling 'action.' Patinkin laughed so hard while feeding Crystal lines off-camera that he bruised a rib. 'That's the only injury I got on the whole film,' he said in the book. 'And, as I'm sure you well know, we did all the stunts ourselves.'

16. Never Let A Man Drop A Sword On Your Head

In the name of authenticity, Elwes encouraged Christopher Guest to actually whack him with the butt of a sword for a shot. It proved to be very authentic: 'It landed just a touch harder than either of us anticipated,' Elwes wrote. His next memory is in the emergency room, getting stitches in his head.

17. The Ending That Never Was

Elwes, Wright, Patinkin and Andre filmed an alternate ending where they show up outside Fred Savage's character's bedroom window on horses and 'beckon him to join us on our next adventure.' The ending was scrapped for being too confusing.