We'll never survive.
Nonsense. You're only saying that because no one ever has. - The Princess Bride, 1987
If you have been listening to Glenn for awhile, you are very well aware that 'The Princess Bride' is one of his favorite movies. He loves it so much he declared the film a "right of passage" in his family. Glenn was honored to have actor Cary Elwes on radio today to talk about his new book As You Wish, which takes readers behind-the-scenes on the making of 'The Princess Bride'. The book includes photographs, exclusive interviews and never before told stories.
That's a lot of content! Why it's..."INCONCEIVABLE!"
During the interview, Glenn took the opportunity (as any proper fan would) to ask Elwes some of the stories during the making of the film. The story about the Rodents of Unusual Size (better known as R.O.U.S') is definitely one that is worth a listen.
So don your black mask and "prepare to die" of laughter as you listen to this great interview.
GLENN: We are thrilled to have somebody on today that has a new book on called As You Wish. You know that phrase if you're our kind of people. And when I say that, I don't care how you vote. Where you're from in the world. If you know the word as you wish, and it brings back fond memories, you're my kind of people. We've used this -- I have used, do you like the Princess Bride when I was dating. If they said no, we're not going to get along.
We've done this with friends, with writers, with everybody we know. This is perhaps the Wizard of Oz of our time. This is a magical movie that will last for generations and has become such a part of our culture. And Cary Elwes is the guy who played Wesley, who said, as you wish. Twenty-fifth anniversary of the movie came and went, and he decided, I have to write some of the stories down. And he put out a new book called As You Wish. And Cary is with us now.
Hello, Cary, how are you?
CARY: I'm well, Glenn. How are you, sir?
GLENN: I'm really good. I will tell you, I feel a little for you today because you must be sitting in your hotel room, wherever you are, thinking to yourself, good God, is my career over? I'm on the Glenn Beck Program. I can't go any lower than this.
CARY: No. Not at all, sir. I'm happy to be on your show. Thank you.
GLENN: So, Cary, first of all, thank you for the joy that you have given me, my family, my children. Just recently we watched the Princess Bride. Again, that was a magical movie, and I would imagine one that people would look to make their entire life and don't usually get to make. But more importantly, thank you for appreciating the fact that you were in that and you're not shunning it and saying, I'm above that now.
CARY: No. I'm beyond grateful to be apart of it. I think I can speak for everyone on the film when we say we feel blessed to be a part of it. It's the film that gave me my career and gave me the life I lead today. So I'm eternally grateful.
GLENN: I've wondered this about the movie Moulin Rouge. I don't know if you saw that.
GLENN: But Baz Luhrmann is a genius. And Rob Reiner is a genius. And I think those are probably the only two that could make actors stand in a room and say, okay, have you way out of a -- you'll be dancing in an elephant in Moulin Rouge or you'll be wrestling with rodents of unusual size, and feel comfortable.
GLENN: Was there any time on the set that you thought, this is either going to be magic or a disaster?
CARY: There was one moment. When the little fellow who was playing the rodent of unusual size I was put to wrestle with didn't show up to work. And Rob decided that the only alternative available to us, because we were going to lose the set that day, was to have me wrestle a rubber rat. And that -- I had some -- I had some moments there while Rob was directing me on how to make the rubber rat seem more realistic. I was definitely going to myself, hmm, I wonder if this is going to sell.
We didn't have the money for CGI or anything back then, you know.
GLENN: And the guy actually had been arrested the night before.
CARY: Correct. That is correct. He was driving 5 miles an hour in a 25-mile per hour zone. And I think he had had a couple of drinks. And he was -- had to spend the night in jail. Poor guy.
CARY: He did eventually arrive and saved me from having to wrestle the latex foam rodent of unusual size.
GLENN: The scene, you describe that whole fire swam in great detail. There were a lot of problems in that scene. I mean, the dress really didn't catch fire over and over again.
CARY: Yes. Well, the dress was made -- had a flame retardant liquid that had been -- it had been dipped in. And one area had, I believe, some, I guess, it was alcohol or some kind of area where the flame was supposed to catch the dress on fire, yeah. But Bill Goldman, the author and playwright, showed up in the middle of the first take and had no idea what we were shooting that day. And saw Robin catch fire and screamed out loud, she's on fire. Robin Wright is on fire, at the top of his lungs.
And Rob Reiner yelled, cut, and turned to him and went, Bill, she's supposed to catch fire. That's part of the script. You've written it in the last eight drafts.
And he was mortified, the poor guy. But he had no idea. Imagine anyone walking on the set and seeing Robin Wright on fire. If you had no idea what the context was, you'd probably do the same thing.
GLENN: Right. I would say pretty much anybody on fire. But Robin Wright -- and Robin Wright, let's be honest, is typically on fire, if you know what I mean.
CARY: Very good. Very good.
GLENN: I will tell you, when I saw in the book, that you did the -- the, you know, most passionate kiss ever, and it took you like seven or eight takes, I didn't feel badly for you.
CARY: No. Well, it had to do with the fact that we were giggling so much. Robin and I became very good friends. Still are good friends. And, you know, it's weird kissing your best friend. It's -- so Rob got a little frustrated with us because obviously Wesley and Buttercup were not supposed to be giggling while they were engaging in the passionate embrace. But we got it in the end.
GLENN: Right. Can you tell me about the -- and I'm trying to remember the name of the actor. He's a great actor. So I apologize. The inconceivable guy.
CARY: Wallace Shawn, yeah.
GLENN: So I love that guy.
CARY: Oh, he's great.
GLENN: He's brilliant, and just brilliant in it. Even reading the book, The Princess Bride, which if you haven't read the book, it's just brilliant. It reads just like the movie.
But he played that role so perfectly, but you say he broke out in hives because he was so convinced he was going to be cut.
CARY: Not just cut, but replaced. His agent had told him before he got on the plane to fly to England that, in fact, he was not the first choice to play that scene. The filmmakers wanted Danny DeVito. And he was convinced that he was merely standing in, waiting for Mr. DeVito to become available.
And I only had the one scene with him. The battle of wits scene. And he showed up to work. Here's the guy, always the smallest guy in the room. Fulbright scholar. Lectures at Oxford and Cambridge. Here he is sweating at this little scene. I didn't know what it was about.
But I found out from writing this book that he had actually -- he was convinced that his ticket had already been booked, and when you look at his performance now, it's inconceivable to think of anybody else playing that role, other than him. I mean, he's just perfect in that.
GLENN: When you are -- you're in the fight scene at the top of the cliffs of insanity. And you have to sword fight.
GLENN: I've always found it amazing that it was clearly you guys sword fighting.
In the book --
GLENN: -- you say we should perhaps even be more amazed because of your foot and because of changes at the last minute.
CARY: Yes. So by the -- first of all, I broke my toe fooling around on Andre the Giant's all-terrain vehicle, which I had no business being on. But he kept taunting me to try it. Eventually -- you know, when a giant says you should try his toy --
GLENN: You do.
CARY: -- several times a day, at some point, you need to relent.
GLENN: Wait. Wait. Wait. Before you get to the sword fight scene. Just talk -- I have to verify, he never actually was riding -- I love the way -- I love the way you say that you walked on the set, and you saw him on the top of the horse and you realized, this is the craziest job in the world.
CARY: In the world.
GLENN: He never actually road the horse.
CARY: No. He was always on wires. Never touched -- the horse would never allow -- the horses are very smart. The horse took one look at Andre, all 460 pounds, 7'5" of him and said, there's no -- this was a Clydesdale. The kind you see on the Budweiser commercial. The biggest horse ever. It just refused. So they had to blindfold it and then lower Andre down on a wire, not actually touching the horse.
GLENN: Is that crazy?
GLENN: That's crazy.
CARY: Crazy. Anyway, so I broke my toe fooling around on his all-terrain vehicle. Luckily, it was fairly reasonably well-healed by the time -- it was three weeks later we shot the sword fight.
But when we came to show it to Rob Reiner, Manny and I had become so fast at the routine that it clocked in at about a minute. And Rob turned to us and went, guys, you got to go back and add another two minutes. You know, look at this set I built for you. This beautiful set. You can't be in here for just a minute.
So we had literally four or five days to go. We had to go back and add another two minutes to the fight, which we did. And we added the whole acrobatic piece, where we had this gymnast do this wonderful flip on the bars. And it was fun.
GLENN: I was going to say, Cary is obviously a great storyteller. He just butchered that. It's great in the book. It's great in the book.
So, Cary, you are -- and I let you decide or want to leave it for the reader to discover. But when you get to the end of the book, you talk about Peter Falk and the touching scene between a grandfather and his grandson.
GLENN: And how that became real. Do you care to go into that at all?
CARY: Sure. I lost my own grandfather during the making of the film. And my grandfather was the hero in my life. He was a real-life World War II veteran. He had been sort of a commando. He worked for special operations executives, SOE, and their job was to fly behind enemy lines and create a fit column (phonetic) to fight the Germans and the Italians in Albania and in many other places.
Anyway, he died of complications related to diabetes. And he was the kind of guy who used to tell tales to me as a kid, much like Peter Falk did with Fred Savage.
And when I went to the hospital after I wrapped the movie, I started to share with him -- because he was unable to come to the set, he was too sick. I shared with him the whole story of my experience making the film. And he was under a lot of medication at the time. I don't know how much he really could understand what I was saying. But I wanted to share it with him anyway. And I realized while I was sharing the whole making of the film with him that I was having my own as-you-wish moment with him. So it was very moving for me. And, yeah, it was -- it was very sad. Very touching.
GLENN: Cary, we were talking before you came on about the movie Galaxy Quest with Tim Allen. Okay. You know that. So I can't remember the guy or the character he plays. But he plays basically the Spock character.
GLENN: And he is -- he's pissed that he's been in this movie and that's all people -- he's like, yeah, I got it. I got it. There has to be times that even if you love -- and, I mean, that character he didn't love it. He was really pissed that's what he turned into be. You've done so much. You've been in really critically acclaimed movies. You're a great actor.
CARY: Thank you.
GLENN: But there has to be times that you run into fans where you're like, okay, it's a movie, dude. It's a movie.
CARY: I got to share with you this. Here's how I look at it, Glenn. I think as an actor you are blessed to have anyone resonate with your work. Some actors go through life and don't have a single movie that anyone has even cared to watch or have -- you know, feels anything about.
And I look at it like, how blessed am I that I have a film that has touched so many people. I call this the gift that keeps on giving. This is like a generational film. I meet families who have passed down their VHS copies from grandparents to grandkids. It's just incredible.
GLENN: It's a rite of passage. It really is. We shared it with our kids. I have kids in their 20s and an 8-year-old. And it is a rite of passage that we're watching this movie.
So, Cary, I thank you very much for being on the program.
CARY: Thank you, sir.
GLENN: I've never done this before. But I would like to ask if we could send you a few copies of your book and you could sign them so we could give some away.
GLENN: Thank you for being so cool. I appreciate it.
CARY: Happy Holidays to you and all your listeners. And thank you for having me on your show.
GLENN: God bless you. Thank you very much.
CARY: God bless you too.
GLENN: Name of the book is As You Wish: The Inconceivable Tales From the Making of the Princess Bride.
STU: He was great.
GLENN: I have to tell you, after my experience with B.B. King, where my wife fell asleep at a B.B. King concert, and I am a huge B.B. King fan. And we went backstage to meet him, and he couldn't give a flying crap about me.
STU: He was hitting on Tania, wasn't he?
GLENN: He was hitting on my wife the whole time. And I wanted to say to him, she fell asleep. She hates you. She's like, stop with B.B. King all the time.
And after that, and then an experience with Billy Joel and Elton John right in the same summer, I swore off meeting anyone that I liked. If I liked your music, I liked your work. I don't want to meet you. It's going to be disappointing. That was a cool interview. Really, really gracious guy. Really great.
STU: Yeah. I must remind you that I brought that to the table. So there's one for the last ten or 15 years.
GLENN: As You Wish the name of the book. The inconceivable tales of the making of the Princess Bride.