The Huffington Post | By Mike Ryan October 4, 2012
Considering how often “The Princess Bride” shows up on television, it might surprise you to learn that Cary Elwes hadn’t seen the film in 25 years. That changed on Tuesday night, when Elwes — who starred as the erstwhile Westley in “The Princess Bride” (who would later assume the identity of the Dread Pirate Roberts) — reunited with the cast and crew of the beloved classic for a special anniversary screening at the New York Film Festival done in conjunction with the film’s Blu-ray release.
Ahead, Elwes reflects on the night, how “The Princess Bride” has aged, and what it was like to meet Andre the Giant.
How did the reunion go?
It was wonderful. It’s great; it’s like a family reunion.
I’ll admit, when I first heard about this event, I was like, “Really? 25 years already?”
That’s funny. No, it doesn’t seem like it. When you see friendly faces from an event like that, the years melt away.
When you first got involved with “The Princes Bride,” did you understand the tone right away? As in, “Is this being played straight?”
Well, [director] Rob Reiner was very clear from the very beginning to all of us. He said, “Look, I don’t want you to play it for the laughs, I want you all to just play it straight. The words themselves will make people laugh because Bill Goldman’s writing is so brilliant, you don’t have to tip anything — it’s just there in the writing.” And it’s so true. The script is one of the funniest scripts ever. There’s a reason he’s a national treasure, you know?
Can you watch it now and enjoy it as much as the rest of us? Or are you too close to it?
Well, this was the first time I had seen it in its entirety since we premiered it in Toronto in 1987. So, yeah, it’s fun to see it again on the big screen with a nice, clean print. And the audience was terrific at the festival. They loved it. They applauded, they laughed at all of the right moments — every time a character made an entrance, they gave him or her an applause
Is that normal for you? Not to re-watch your movies? Have you not seen something like “Days of Thunder” since it came out?
No. I mean, if they invite me to a screening or a premiere, I’ll see it then. But I don’t really need to see it again after that. I’m in it, so I don’t really have a desire to watch myself anymore than I have to.
Even the “Seinfeld” episode? I feel that’s on television quite a bit and almost impossible to avoid.
I haven’t seen it since it first aired.
I haven’t. No, I haven’t.
I see it all of the time.
You do? It was fun. It was great to be with those guys. I mean, I thought I was being punked when I got the call. It was really Jerry saying, “Come on! Come on down and have fun. We’ll have fun.” And I felt that someone was kidding me. And it was great. I was with Larry David — it was great.
It says on Wikipedia that Christopher Guest hit you so hard during a scene in “The Princess Bride” that you had to go to the hospital. Is that true?
Did somebody put that in there?
I don’t know if I had to go to the hospital. I think the butt of his sword grazed me when I was standing too close to it when it happened.
It’s described that you told him to hit you as hard as he could — and he did and you had to go to the hospital.
That probably sounds about right. I’m sure that’s something that I would do [laughs]. I’m a glutton for reality and clearly for punishment. You know, I don’t think it was that big of a deal. They were more concerned, the crew, than I was about getting it looked at.
I still laugh every time that The Albino clears his through and his voice changes. Watching it again, what scene made you laugh the hardest?
Everyone has their favorites. But I was so enamored with the whole movie and in awe of how masterfully Rob directed it, actually, now, looking at it again 25 years later. He really was the only director who could have directed this movie. You know, he had the right sensibility, the right sense of humor — just the right touch to it. And the way that he directed it — just the shots and the editing and the production values and everything. The performances — everything. Not a single thing in there that, you know, wasn’t supposed to be there. Do you know what I mean? It was just perfect. And he’s so blasé about his own talent. We were all patting him on the back, the whole cast Tuesday night, and he’s like, “I don’t know. It’s kind of fun, right?” We’re like, “Rob! It’s a great movie!” He’s like, “You think?” He’s very nonchalant about his own talents. It’s very sweet. It’s very endearing.
Like most boys that were in junior high school in 1987, I loved WWF wrestling. It was such a shock, then, to see Andre the Giant come off as sweet as he does in “The Princess Bride.”
He was a very sweet guy. That’s what you saw and that’s what you got with him. That’s just who he was. He didn’t “act” anything — he didn’t have to. He called everyone “boss.” And this is from a seven-foot-five man, calling you boss. It’s pretty surreal [laughs]. Where he got that idea, that anyone was the boss of him, gives you an insight into his own gentle nature. You know?
Was it intimidating when you met him for the first time?
Well, you know, it was not easy on the neck muscles. After a while, “How are you doing?” — you want to make eye contact. One of the funniest things I remember is the focus puller always having to get two apple boxes just to get the tape measure close to his nose. And be on tiptoes at the same time. Pretty funny.