Five Things You Might Not Know About THE PRINCESS BRIDE - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Five Things You Might Not Know About THE PRINCESS BRIDE

Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.


1. Released September 25th 1987, The Princess Bride was adapted by William Goldman from his 1973 novel of the same name.

Director Rob Reiner, had been enamored with Goldman's book ever since he was given it as a gift from his father, Carl Reiner. During production of his previous feature, Stand by Me, Reiner had spoke to an executive at Paramount Pictures suggesting The Princess Bride as his next film only to be told they would not fund the film and warned away from attempting an adaptation. Reiner then discovered that several studios had previously attempted to bring Goldman's book to the big screen without success, leading to nearly fifteen years of development hell.

A first attempt by 20th Century Fox, which had paid Goldman $500,000 for the film rights and to do a screenplay in 1973, saw Richard Lester signed to direct. The movie was almost made, but the head of production at Fox was fired and the project was put on hiatus. Goldman subsequently bought back the film rights to the novel with his own money. Other directors had also attempted to adapt the book, including Fran├žois Truffaut, Robert Redford and Norman Jewison, and at one point, Christopher Reeve was interested in playing Westley in one planned adaption.

Reiner managed to find success by gaining financial support from Norman Lear, who had funded production of This Is Spinal Tap, and securing a distribution-only deal with 20th Century Fox. He also worked closely with Goldman to adapt the book for the screenplay, with the writer being very hands-on throughout the whole production.


2. Reiner and casting director Jane Jenkins had auditioned a number of English actresses but had not found their ideal Buttercup. Robin Wright's agent had heard of the casting call and encouraged her to audition. Though initially shy, Wright impressed Jenkins, and later Reiner, so they invited Wright to come meet Goldman at his house. Jenkins recalls:
"The doorbell rang. Rob went to the door, and literally, as he opened the door, [Wright] was standing there in this little white summer dress, with her long blonde hair, and she had a halo from the sun. She was backlit by God. And Bill Goldman looked across the room at her, and he said, 'Well, that's what I wrote.' It was the most perfect thing."

3. When Goldman originally shopped his novel in the early 1970s, his first choice for Fezzik was Andre the Giant. Jenkins contacted the World Wrestling Federation to ask about hiring Andre, but were told that the filming conflicted with a wrestling match in Tokyo that would pay him $5 million.

Goldman's second choice was Arnold Schwarzenegger, who a decade earlier was almost unknown as an actor, but by the time The Princess Bride was finally green-lit Schwarzenegger was a major film star and the studio could not afford him.

Jenkins auditioned many other tall men, including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Lou Ferrigno and Carel Struycken, but these did not pan out. With a week to go before filming was due to start, Jenkins got a call from Andre the Giant's agent at the WWF telling her that the match in Tokyo had been cancelled, clearing him to play the role of Fezzik.


4. Cary Elwes and Mandy Patinkin learned to fence (both left- and right-handed) for the film, and performed these scenes themselves, outside of the two somersaults, which were performed by stunt doubles.

The duo spent about three weeks prior to filming learning to fence, and spent most of their off-camera free time practicing. They were trained by fencing instructors Bob Anderson and Peter Diamond, both of whom had also worked on training the actors in the original Star Wars trilogy for all of the lightsaber battles. Anderson encouraged the two to learn the other's choreography for the fight to help them anticipate the movements and avoid an accident.


5. There was a reason Andre the Giant's high-paying Tokyo wrestling match had been cancelled - he had just undergone major back surgery and was not fit enough to partake in such an endeavor. This meant that, despite his great size and strength, he could not support the weight of Cary Elwes during their fight scene or Robin Wright for a scene at the end of the film.

As this was not revealed until filming had actually begun, workarounds had to be found. For the wrestling scene, when Elwes hangs on Andre's back, he was actually walking on a series of ramps below the camera during close-ups (for the wide shots, a stunt double took Andre's place), and when he was apparently carrying Wright she was actually suspended by cables.

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