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10 inconceivable facts about The Princess Bride

The Princess BrideFrom swashbuckling to romance to miracles, “The Princess Bride” has something for everybody. There’s a dashing masked hero who’s out to save the princess, an evil hunter vying for the throne, a master swordsman seeking to avenge his father – but there was a lot going on behind the scenes that most viewers wouldn’t know. If you haven’t seen “The Princess Bride,” wake up and smell the iocane powder (or can you? It’s scentless … right?) and watch “The Princess Bride online!”

But let’s not waste any more time. After all, some of you have your country’s 500th anniversary to plan, a wedding to arrange, a wife to murder, and Guilder to frame for it. You’re swamped! So without further ado, here are 10 things you might not have known about this cult classic!

10 inconceivable facts about The Princess Bride

1. Rob Reiner wasn’t the first director to pitch the adaptation

Rob Reiner
William Goldman saw Reiner’s “This is Spinal Tap” and immediately wanted him as director for “The Princess Bride.”

Early in his career, Rob Reiner got the notion to turn William Goldman’s “The Princess Bride” into a film. “It’s a brilliant story by one of America’s greatest writers,” wrote Reiner. “Why wouldn’t everyone just jump at this idea? Little did I know that for 15 years it had been the story that no studio would touch.”

2. The actors learned to swordfight for real

Princess Bride Inigo Westley sword fight
“Why are you smiling?”

During the filming of the sword fight, Reiner wanted full-body shots, as opposed to the typical camera angle from the actor’s point of view. That meant that Elwes and Patinkin had to learn the entire fight choreography for real – no stunt doubles, and both left and right-handed. “My greatest memory and pleasure,” said Patinkin in Elwes’ book about the filming process, “was that we had become proficient enough to improvise on a dime.”

3. The idea came from Goldman’s daughters

William Goldman Oscar
Norman Mailer presents an Academy Award to William Goldman in 1977

Goldman wrote “The Princess Bride” in 1973. He later told Entertainment Weekly that he “had two little daughters, I think they were 7 and 4 at the time, and I said, ‘I’ll write you a story. What do you want it to be about?’ One of them said ‘a princess’ and the other one said ‘a bride.’ I said, ‘That’ll be the title.'”

4. Patinkin took Inigo’s revenge quest personally

Inigo Montoya
Christopher Guest said that during his fight scene he was seriously trying to defend himself from the enthusiastic Patinkin.

“I had lost my own father [to] pancreatic cancer in 1972,” said Patinkin, who was offered any role in the film that he wanted. He felt a very personal connection to the character of Inigo. “I didn’t think about it consciously, but I think that there was a part of me that thought, if I get that man in black, my father will come back. I talked to my dad all the time during filming, and it was very healing for me.”

5. André the Giant learned his lines from a cassette

Princess Bride, Westley, Fezzik
André the Giant’s hand was big enough to fit over Claire Underwood’s entire head.

André the Giant was born in France, and English was never his strong suit. “André read this three-page scene, and I couldn’t understand one word he said,” Reiner recalled. Despite the initial difficulties, Reiner was excited to have him in the cast, saying that he was perfect physically for the part. “So I recorded his entire part on tape, exactly how I wanted him to do it, and he studied the tape. He got pretty good!”

6. The crew had to get an R.O.U.S. out of jail

Princess Bride R.O.U.S.
“Rodents of Unusual Size? They don’t exist.”

The Rodents of Unusual Size were played by men in rat suits, one of whom got into a fight with his wife during the filming, and promptly burned down the kennel that they owned. In order to shoot the scene with him, the crew had to bail him out of jail.

7. “You’re no match for my brains.”

 Princess Bride Vizzini picnic
“Where was I?” “Australia.”

Wallace Shawn, who played Vizzini the Sicilian, held a history degree from Harvard and studied philosophy and economics at Oxford. Despite that, he was very insecure during casting, constantly comparing himself to Danny DeVito, who Reiner originally wanted for the part.

8. Westley actually did fall unconscious

Princess Bride Count Rugen
The infamous six-fingered man.

During the scene in the woods when Westley is captured by Count Rugen (Christopher Guest), the scene is supposed to end with Rugen knocking Westley unconscious with the hilt of his sword. After several unconvincing takes, Elwes told Guest to just go for it and tap him on the head to get the reaction right. Guest tapped a little too hard, and Elwes was actually knocked out! He later woke up in the hospital, and the take made it into the film.

9. Mandy Patinkin only suffered one real injury on set

Princess Bride Miracle Max
William Goldman had to be taken off-set during this scene; he couldn’t stop laughing.

If you assume that injury was during the sword fight, you’d be wrong. The only time Patinkin ever really got hurt was bruising the muscles on one side of his rib cage from holding in his laughter while they were filming Crystal’s scene.

10. Vizzini’s intellect wasn’t the only dizzying thing

Princess Bride Vizzini Buttercup Fezzik
By the end of production, André’s back injuries were severe enough that he couldn’t carry Claire anymore.

Wallace Shawn was deathly afraid of heights, and the most difficult scene for him to film was when Fezzik carried Vizzini and Inigo up the Cliffs of Insanity. To assuage him, André gently patted Shawn’s back and said “I’ll take care of you.”

Hopefully these facts will make your next viewing even more enjoyable. Until then, have fun storming the castle!

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