As You Wish: 15 Trivia Tidbits About ‘The Princess Bride’
What makes a good fairy tale? Some satire on an adventure trail? The Princess Bride will tell you so with love and peanuts on the go. Kick off with some broken hearts (to later add those kissing parts). Include a bunch of scary locations and incorporate max miracle vocations. Sword fights are cool, and kidnappings are cruel. Giants are rad, and forced marriages are bad. Feature a kid and an old man, a hero we stan, exactly one torture device, and giant creatures resembling mice.
It might sound inconceivable, but it’s pretty believable, for there is no better ride than The Princess Bride...
The ‘Star Wars’ Influence
The sword-fighting scenes were taken quite seriously, with both Cary Elwes (Westley) and Mandy Patinkin (Inigo Montoya) training hard for their Cliffs of Insanity scuffle. When the two weren’t filming, they were training with Peter Diamond and Bob Anderson, who both worked on the first Star Wars trilogy.
Elwes also revealed that he and Patinkin watch an insane amount of cinematic sword fights. “I came up with the idea,” Elwes told Variety. “We watched them all to see if we could improve on any of it. The one we loved the best was Scaramouche with Stewart Granger and Mel Ferrer. The fight was extraordinary.”
The Drama With One of the Rodents of Unusual Size
Director Rob Reiner explained that the Rodents of Unusual Size (ROUS) were little people dressed in rat suits and that one actor named Anthony briefly went MIA during production. “(For the fight) I said, ‘We need Anthony for this,’ and the crew said, ‘Well, let’s try the other guy,’” Reiner relayed. “I said, ‘Whaddaya mean try the other guy? Anthony’s good!’ They said, ‘We can’t use Anthony. He got arrested this morning.’ They said he got into a fight with his wife, and they owned a kennel, and he burned the kennel down. So we had to bail him out of jail so he could come and fight as an ROUS.”
Studios Weren’t Interested in Making the Movie
Reiner revealed in Entertainment Weekly's oral history of The Princess Bride that no one was interested in adapting William Goldman’s novel. “After I had made a couple of pictures, Spinal Tap and The Sure Thing, I started thinking of The Princess Bride,” he explained. “I very naively thought I could make a movie, then I discovered that Francois Truffaut had tried, and Norman Jewison had tried and Robert Redford had been involved — one after the other. No (studio) wanted to make a movie of The Princess Bride; nobody was interested in it. We kept tearing the budget down; I had to try to sell foreign rights and video rights, I had to cut my salary, I had to cut the cast’s salaries. It was crazy. I think we had, like, $16 million, which even at the time wasn’t very much. In the script, it said, ‘The army of Florin.’ I had seven people in the army of Florin.”
That Time ESPN Did an NFL ‘ Princess Bride’ Episode
In November 2012, ESPN’s NFL Kickoff put a little twist on their show by dropping dozens of cheeky Princess Bride references. Cornerbacks were of “unusual sizes,” teams’ playoff dreams were “only mostly dead” and track records were “inconceivable.” BuzzFeed investigated the bizarre crossover and asked the show’s hosts what it all meant. Both Trey Wingo and Mark Schlereth explained that they were huge fans of the movie and wanted to make each other laugh. “It just happened very organically. It wasn’t like we sat up and said, ‘Let’s do this.’ A couple of weeks ago, someone threw a quote out there,” Schlereth said.
Wingo elaborated, saying it was Tedy Bruschi who started it all: “Tedy was on an NFL Live episode about a month ago and was the first one to bring in a reference. He said, ‘You know the Seahawks really have COUS — corners of unusual size.’ And I almost spit up laughing so hard when he said that. And last week, we maybe dropped in one or two lines, and then it just organically happened that day. We just sort of started.”
A Lot of Actresses Were Considered for the Part of Buttercup
Actresses who auditioned for the role of Buttercup included Yasmine Bleeth, Courteney Cox and Meg Ryan. Uma Thurman was considered “too exotic,” and author William Goldman thought that Carrie Fisher would be the ideal princess. Reiner himself originally favored Sean Young, and even Whoopi Goldberg was a first choice for a while, but the producers wanted to cast an unknown actress. Thus, The Princess Bride became Robin Wright’s breakout feature.
Wallace Shawn Struggled With Anxiety During Filming (Thanks to Danny DeVito)
In his book, As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride, Elwes wrote that Wallace Shawn (who played Vizzini) was riddled with anxiety during filming. “I noticed he (Wallace) was anxious at the time, but I didn’t know what the reason was, and apparently his agent had told him that they really wanted Danny DeVito for the role of Vizzini,” Elwes said. “So during shooting, the poor guy was fixated on the idea and really nervous that he was going to be replaced, which is so crazy because when you look at his performance, you can’t think of anyone else playing Vizzini besides Wally.”
Billy Crystal Was Given Free Reign to Embody and Develop His Character
The actor who played Miracle Max said that it was the most fun cameo. “I met with my makeup artist, Peter Montagna, who had done all these characters with me on Saturday Night Live, and I said, ‘I want him to look like a cross between my grandmother and (baseball legend) Casey Stengel,’” Crystal has remembered. “We ad-libbed a lot of stuff: ‘Have fun storming the castle.’ ‘Don’t go swimming for an hour — a good hour.’ There was a lot of really funny stuff that never made it into the movie: ‘Don’t bother me, sonny. I had a bad day — I found my nephew with a sheep.’ ‘True love is the greatest thing in the world — except for a good B.M.’ I remember the only trouble with the scene was Cary trying not to laugh while he was laying on the slab because he’s supposed to be mostly dead but slightly alive. There should be a Max and Valerie movie. Start a Twitter thing: ‘We want more Max and Valerie.’”
Miracle Max and Valerie Have Been Married for 112 Years
That is, at least, according to Crystal’s calculations, which, given that he brought Miracle Max to life in such an iconic way, we’ll be taking as canon from here on out.
Andre the Giant Kept Robin Wright Warm on Set
Everyone remembers the late wrestler fondly, and Wright once told Variety that he was extremely caretaking on set: “We’re in the middle of the forest, and we’d be standing next to each other in our costumes, and it’s freaking cold and wet. He put his hands on my head literally to keep me warm from shivering. His hands covered my whole head. The heat from his hand was like an electric blanket. He was just very sweet and thoughtful. He would always hand me his coat if my coat wasn’t nearby.”
There’s a ‘This is Spinal Tap’ Easter Egg
While Grandpa Columbo is telling little Fred Savage all about Fire Swamps and whatnot, Reiner’s hat from his famous mockumentary film can be seen hanging on the kid’s wall. “Mark Knopfler, who wrote the score for The Princess Bride, said to me, ‘I’ll only do it if you put something from This is Spinal Tap in the movie,’” Reiner explained. “So I threw the hat in there for Marty DiBergi, and then I was lucky enough to get the guy who was the lead guitarist for Dire Straits.”
It Was Probably the Only Movie for Which Liam Neeson Was Deemed Too Short
The 6-foot-4 actor revealed that he auditioned for the part of Fezzik but that he was ultimately too short. “I was quite nervous because I knew this was a big film and stuff,” Neeson said on Jimmy Kimmel Live. “I had met the casting directors in L.A., so I go into the office in London, and Rob Reiner looked at me and said, ‘He’s not a giant. What height are you?’ I said, ‘6-foot-4.’ He said, ‘That’s tall; he’s not a giant. So there was no ‘hello, thank you.’ So I thought, the next time I see Rob Reiner, I’m going to tell him he was very rude.”
Peter Falk Was Sure He Was Too Young to Play a Grandpa
During a live-commentary screening of the film in 2013, Reiner revealed: “Originally, Peter Falk (who was around 60) said, ‘I don’t know if I’m old enough to be a grandfather.’ He said maybe we should put prosthetics on me to make me older. So we did. We did a test on it. He looked at it and said, ‘Rob, I look like a burn victim!’ I said, ‘Peter, maybe we do it without the prosthetics?’ He says, ‘I think you’re on to something.’”
The Final Kiss Took a Lot of Takes to Get Right
It’s a simple kiss, but it took a while for Elwes and Wright to nail it. “We couldn’t stop giggling, you know? It’s like kissing your sister! It’s weird,” Elwes told The Daily Beast. “We were laughing and couldn’t believe we were actually doing it. We ruined a lot of takes from giggling, which is why it took six of ’em. But it was a really nice way to end the picture, too, and I also didn’t want the film to end in a strange way.”
The Movie Has Saved Lives
Reiner has told the story of a woman who came up to him, claiming that The Princess Bride saved her life. “I go, ‘What do you mean?’ She says, ‘I do extreme skiing, and they dropped me off at the top of a mountain with four other people, and we skied down this mountain, and we got caught in an avalanche. We got stuck. We couldn’t get out.’ She showed me that her frostbite was still going away. And she said, ‘I kept everybody alive and kept everybody going because I know The Princess Bride by heart, every line from beginning to end. I started reciting it. I acted it out. I kept everybody’s spirits up until we got rescued.’”
The Pandemic Celebrity Remake
While some celebrities were annoying the entire world with their terrible rendition of “Imagine” during lockdowns, others decided to film The Princess Bride in their living rooms for charity. Home Movie: The Princess Bride was picked up by Quibi (RIP) and featured a string of A-list actors, including Adam Sandler as one of the grandfathers (characters were played by multiple actors), and Patton Oswalt as one of the Vizzinis, all dressed up like a carnival magician.