There's something about movies from the '80s that capture people's hearts. Sure nostalgia plays a big role, but it's more than that. The movies made in that time just had a certain cheesiness to them that really made them resonate with audiences. Even today, when we recognize that film writing and effects have gotten much better, people still love to binge those old movies on Netflix. The Princess Bride is one of those endlessly re-watchable films. You get sucked into the world, quote along with everything the characters say, and root for true love.
But even if you're the type of fan who has Inigo Montoya's monologue at the ready every time he says it, there are still plenty of things you might not know about The Princess Bride. For instance, do you know what '90s movie was inspired by an actor's time on the set of The Princess Bride? Or what politician almost got a role in the movie? How about what "The American" is? All those things and more are revealed here.
So scroll down, settle in, and get reading. You'll have everyone saying "Inconceivable!" (yes I had to) at your next trivia night after reading these 25 shocking facts about The Princess Bride.
25 Jokes For Literal Days
Comedy is a very specific art. The best jokes are the ones that combine pointed observation with ridiculous imagination. Billy Crystal showed this perfectly with his portrayal of Miracle Max. It turns out Crystal had the character of Max envisioned quite specifically in his mind, even down to his look; a mix of his own grandmother and former Yankees manager Casey Stengel. Crystal's scenes as Miracle Max were filmed over three days for 10 hours a day.
During that entire time, he never made the same joke twice.
This kept everyone on their toes, and also constantly laughing. Rob Reiner reportedly laughed so much that he eventually had to leave the room during filming. Mandy Patinkin suffered his only injury on set by bruising the muscles on one side of his ribs from trying too hard not to laugh during Crystal's scenes. If that's not a consummate comedian, then I don't know what is.
24 Actors Of Unusual Ethics
With puppetry being all the rage in '80s movies, you might expect that ThePrincess Bride's Rats Of Unusual Size were puppets. You would be expecting wrong. The ROUS of the Fire Swamp were actually men in costumes. This probably saved the movie a lot of money, what with not needing to create elaborate puppets or hire puppeteers. All they would need is some uncredited extras that were willing to don cheap costumes. However, there was one downside to having actual people be the giant rodents. One account tells that a ROUS actor got into a fight with his wife and set fire to a kennel they owned. As a result, he was arrested just before he was needed on set. The film crew was forced to bail him out of jail just so he could show up for the Fire Swamp scene. That probably bumped up the budget.
23 He Got Way Into The Role
Rob Reiner, director of The Princess Bride, really wanted Mandy Patinkin in the movie. He wanted Patinkin so badly that he offered the actor any role he wanted. Patinkin chose to be Inigo Montoya in part because he lost his own father months prior. To really put himself into the role, Patinkin actually imagined his own father, and the feelings of wanting him back.
He convinced himself that if he defeated the six-fingered man, it would bring his father back in real life.
It made him a little dangerous on set, as he took those duels more seriously than any staged fight. Patinkin has said in interviews that stabbing Count Rugen during those scenes felt like destroying the cancer that took his father. "For a moment," Patinkin said, "He was alive. And my fairy tale came true."
22 On The Other Side...
Going back to the idea that Mandy Patinkin took his duels with Count Rugen a little too seriously, he was known to actually injure the other actor. During the rehearsals for that climactic duel, Patinkin accidentally stabbed Rugen's actor Christopher Guest in the thigh. Guest could tell that Patinkin went into those duels with an intent to fight for real. Before filming for the final duel, Guest said to the fencing master, "I think he's going to try to end me. So all that stuff that I learned, I'm basically throwing out. I'm basically now going to defend myself." No wonder that sword fight is such an intense one. It turns out that Inigo was actually trying to finish his enemy and Rugen was really fighting for his life. Now that's method acting!
21 Never Give Up
The Princess Bride is considered a classic movie. I mean, duh, I am writing a whole list of facts about it. It's got to be something special if it generates an article that gets millions of clicks (at least I hope it gets millions of clicks). But the movie was actually quite a dud in the ways that most people judge movies. For instance, it was meant to be made years before it actually was. Unfortunately, it suffered many false stars that delayed it, ones I'll get more in detail about somewhere else. Such production problems often spell doom for a movie, at least on message boards and subreddits. Also, its gross was only $30.8 million domestically, which is quite sad even with its low budget. The reason the movie became such a fan-favorite was that it got crazy sales on its home release. I guess it was more of a rent-it kind of film.
20 A Giant By Any Other Name
The Princess Bride was actually almost made into a movie many times before the version we know and love happened. Many directors and actors were attached to the idea before Rob Reiner was finally given the reins. One such attempt happened in the 1970s.
A certain unknown bodybuilder by the name of Arnold Schwarzenegger was considered for the role of Fezzik.
Just imagine that version of the movie. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your point of view), the movie never came together when Arnold was available and unknown, When the time did come to make the movie for reals, Schwarzenegger was famous and therefore too expensive for the small-budget movie to afford. Maybe in the eventual remake...
19 A Certain Level Of Fame
The fame of The Princess Bride has a lot to do with how quotable the movie is. How many people immediately spout Inigo's famous line whenever the movie is mentioned? You even thought of it yourself when you read the title of this article, didn't you? Well it turns out that you're not alone. People from all walks of life quote The Princess Bride. Even famous crime bosses. Rob Reiner recounted in an interview that he once met John Gotti and six of his men outside a New York restaurant by complete surprise. As if meeting a crime boss wasn't nerve-wracking enough, one of the men turned to Reiner and said, "You killed my father, prepare to die!" Then, he burst out laughing. Still, that must've been a fearful five seconds for Reiner!
18 Put That On The Resumé
Arnold Schwarzenegger isn't the only crazy fantasy casting The Princess Bride could have had. As with all movies, auditions were held to cast the major roles for Princess Bride. And Rob Reiner went all out with scouring the talent pool for the role of Princess Buttercup. He auditioned over 500 women.
Some of the more famous names on that list included Courtney Cox, Meg Ryan, Uma Thurman, and even Whoopie Goldberg.
In the end, he went with Robin Wright, a Texas native. Why does that matter? Well, because as a Texan she didn't exactly have a natural British accent. Instead, she developed one for the role of Buttercup by basing it on her English father. What's even more amazing is that she did it without any help from a professional dialect coach!
17 Professionalism Maybe?
Apparently, the set of The Princess Bride was not the most professional of workplaces. As mentioned before, one actor has to be bailed out of jail just so that he would actually be there to work. Mandy Patinkin was looking to seriously injure one of his fellow actors. And then there was Cary Elwes, who played Westley.
Elwes has a poor work ethic story involving borrowing André the Giant's ATV.
Six weeks before filming began, he took his costar's ATV out for a drive and injured his toe. The injury stayed with him in those first few days of filming, throwing off his performance. It's particularly noticeable during the scene where he ridicules Buttercup about her fiancé as the Dread Pirate Roberts. He's walking with a bit of a limp as his toe is still sensitive. Reiner must've had one heck of a time keeping these actors in line!
16 Who Let This Guy In?
It's common in Hollywood to let the author of a novel visit the set of the movie based on that novel. The film's director often wants the input of the novel's author in order to keep things as accurate as possible. In The Princess Bride's case, the book's author was as much of a hindrance as he was a help. William Goldman wrote the original book and the screenplay for The Princess Bride, so he was invited on set from the beginning. That proved to be trouble during the very first scene they shot with Buttercup, where her dress catches fire in the Fire Swamp. Robin Wright was actually set on fire, but she was safe thanks to her costume's flame-retardant skirt. No one told Goldman that, however, so he freaked out and screamed: "Her dress is on fire!" The shot was ruined, and everyone learned a valuable lesson about communication on a film set.
15 That's One Way To Brainstorm
It's an interesting place The Princess Bride occupies. The posters and ads for the movie toted it as different from any other fairy tale. But the story itself is pretty much the usual tale of adventures, quests, and true love. Perhaps the one thing that sets it apart is its more self-aware humor. It knows it's a fairy tale, and is willing to poke fun at that fact. It's a nice creative stroke by William Goldman. However, it invites the question: how did Goldman come up with the idea? Well, the story goes that Goldman asked his two daughters what he should write about. One said "a princess" and the other said "a bride," giving him the title The Princess Bride. And...that's it!
14 Ode To A Giant
If the other facts on this list indicate anything, it's that the cast and crew had a great time filming The Princess Bride. They had regular nights out to go partying, and injured themselves riding André The Giant's ATV. So it makes sense that friendships were forged on set.
One particularly notable friendship was between Billy Crystal and André The Giant.
Their relationship inspired Billy Crystal to write the 1998 film My Giant, the story of a talent agent who makes a very tall friend. Crystal plays the agent, who tries to get his large client a role as a villain in movies, but he is more of a sensitive soul. Crystal eventually comes to value his friend for his true self, and everyone learns a lesson about not judging a book by its cover. We don't know how much is really based on Crystal's interactions with André, but it's a sweet story nonetheless.
13 With Both Hands!
The sword fight on the Cliffs Of Insanity is one of the movie's most iconic scenes. Mostly because it manages to be accurate to real sword dueling while also being a generally entertaining scene. It gets even more impressive when you learn about the creation of it.
Neither Cary Elwes or Mandy Patinkin had any prior experience with swords when they filmed the movie.
Both were coached on set and went through rigorous training. They actually learned (with both hands!) all of the moves they use on screen. This is confirmed, they used no stunt doubles and actually did the entire fight themselves. It probably did help their careers in the end. Sword-fighting is definitely a very unique skill to have on your resumé!
12 He Did His Research
So the duel on the Cliffs Of Insanity gets credit for the technique and dedication the actors put into it. But did you know that when Inigo and Westley compare their knowledge, they're actually referencing real historical moves? Goldman spent months researching 17th-century sword fighting manuals to make the duel as accurate to the period as possible. He used this knowledge to make Westley and Inigo's dialogue have something extra, a bit of truth that swordsman would appreciate, even if the average fan didn't know it was real. But I think the really crazy thing was that Goldman was able to understand the manuals. I mean...just look at this thing! I don't know how anyone is supposed to learn from that. So good on Goldman for getting his historian on and delving into the secrets of sword fighting.
11 Another What-If Casting
As if courting the Governator for Fezzik wasn't ambitious enough, Reiner apparently also had his sights set on Danny DeVito for the role of Vizzini. Of course, the role of the clever Sicilian ended up going to Wallace Shawn. Despite beating out DeVito, Shawn was anxious about his future with the movie because he couldn't do a Sicilian accent. He even thought he would be fired during his first day on set. As if that wasn't stressful enough, Shawn was also afraid of heights. When filming the scene where Fezzik climbs the Cliffs of Insanity while carrying Vizzini, André the Giant had to comfort Shawn by softly patting him reassuring him that he was safe. Poor Shawn, it really seems like he suffered for the role. At least you got a meme out of it, man!
10 The Reiner Cinematic Universe
Reiner had to put an easter egg into the movie to convince someone to work on it. Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits was Reiner's first choice to write the music of The Princess Bride. Knopfler played hard to get, only agreeing to the job if Reiner agreed to put a reference to his previous movie This Is Spinal Tap in the film. Reiner agreed, but did it in a rather tricky way.
He snuck a hat that he wore during filming for Spinal Tap into The Grandson's bedroom.
You can see it hanging on the wall behind the bed. If you can't, then there's a giant red circle for your convenience. I'm not sure a hidden hat is exactly what Knopfler meant by a reference. He was probably expecting a line or song or something more impactful. Still, he took the job, and inspired the creation of the Reinerverse that nobody knows exists.
9 Giant Problems
While Cary Elwes and Mandy Patinkin went without stuntmen, André The Giant of all people needed one. That was because he had some severe back issues which hindered his ability to do certain scenes. In particular, André had to sit out the scene where Westley jumps on Fezzik's back to make him sleep. A body double that was a whole foot shorter than André the Giant replaced him for that scene. Except for the close-ups of course, which were probably fudged using a stool or André bending over. The giant also had to take care when it came to riding a horse in the final scene, so as not to hurt the steed. To prevent injury to the horse, André the Giant was lowered onto it via a pulley system.
8 As He Wished
We've seen a lot of facts about the dashing adventurers and vile villains, but what about the all-important character who held the whole story together? I'm talking of course about the Grandfather, played by Peter Falk. Without him to read the story to his grandson, and also us the audience, we would never have The Princess Bride. The funny thing is, Falk originally thought he looked too young to play a grandfather. At the time the movie was made, he was 60 years old. Falk insisted the team use prosthetics to age him up, but decided against them before filming began. Which was probably a smart choice. Save the prosthetics for the actual magical characters.
7 More Stuntman Fun
We're not done with the stuntman facts yet. Just to remind you, we've learned that Elwes and Patinkin did their own stunts for the sword fight, Patinkin almost stabbed Guest several times, and that André The Giant used a body double for his wrestle with Elwes. That leaves one member of the main quartet unaccounted for. What about Robin Wright? Did Buttercup ever need any stunt doubles? It turns out that she did, and that it came in the form of a man. When Buttercup pushes Westley down a steep hill and then rolls down after him, both actors relied on stunt doubles to do the roll for them. Wright's double was a man in a long blond wig. It really sheds a new light on the romantic reunion that was that scene.
6 André The Picky Eater
One of the coolest things about being on a film set is the craft services table. I know this because I was an extra for a few days on the set of a failed TV show. They feed you with an array of snacks and goodies, and I imagine that the more important actors probably get access to things that us extras could only dream of. The crew certainly got first dibs over the extras. Everyone gets dibs over the extras. It turns out, however, that one cast member, in particular, was not so fond of the food offered on set. André the Giant disliked it so much that on one of his weeks off he drove all the way to France to get some his favorite French foods. He was a generous fellow, as he brought enough back with him to share with the rest of the cast.
5 Great Idea On Paper
It turns out that the movie was going to end quite differently from the version we ended up getting. In that older version, The Grandson was supposed to look out of his window and see the four heroes, still on their white horses, waving at him from below.
Once he saw what that looked like, Reiner smartly decided to ditch that scene and reshoot the ending.
I can see why they thought it was a good idea at first. A lot of '80s movies end with that little bit of magic that's meant to excite the younger viewers. Still, it's also a very silly and nonsensical idea. What is it even supposed to mean? That the kid was living in a fairytale world the whole time? Kind of ruins the message about the power of stories. Best to keep the two worlds separate.
4 Nice Guy André
From the stories we've heard so far, it seems like André the giant was a really nice guy. He inspired Billy Crystal to write a movie about a gentle giant, brought his friends good French food, and let Carey Elwes ride his ATV. It turns out there's more! He also looked out for Robin Wright. She recalls that during really cold days on set, André the Giant would put his hand on her head. His hands were so large that one of them reached past her eyes and covered the back of her neck. It acted as a hat of sorts, keeping her warm and shielding her from chilly winds. If only we could all have a friend as considerate as André The Giant!
3 Castle On A Budget
Most sets in movies are fake. It costs a lot to shoot in actual exotic locations like jungles or ancient ruins, after all. And The Princess Bride was particularly strapped for cash. That's where studios and pre-built sets usually come in. Still, there is a magic to location shooting that some directors can't resist. Since so much of The Princess Bride takes place outside, they did a lot of filming on location. This left them with little money for Humperdink's castle. But Reiner wasn't content to give his villain a paltry palace, so he had fake parapets and turrets constructed to give the castle a more "majestic" look. Majestic is maybe not the word I would use, but it certainly has that castle-y feel to it.
2 A Long Journey
Reiner was by no means the first director to try and tackle The Princess Bride. In fact, the book had a long and unfortunate history of failed attempts to become a movie.
Robert Redford, Norman Jewison, John Boorman, and François Truffaut were just a few of the people who tried to get a movie going.
However, random terrible coincidences kept it from happening. Interested parties were fired, production houses closed down, and other things made it so the rights just sat there unused. Goldman eventually bought back the rights in an attempt to do it himself. Reiner came along with a good track record after movies like This is Spinal Tap and The Sure Thing and convinced 20th Century Fox to back his and Goldman's production of The Princess Bride. And they all lived happily (and wealthily) ever after.
1 The American
The Princess Bride is such a fun movie to watch that you can just imagine the people behind it had a lot of fun making it. At the very least, stories tell that the cast went out drinking together. André The Giant, to no surprise, could really pound it down. Robin Wright recalled that it took three bottles of cognac and 12 bottles of wine just to make him a bit tipsy. André was also a big eater, getting no less than four appetizers and five entrees.
Finally, he was infamous for creating his own special cocktail he called The American.
It was as excessive and strong as the name implies. He took a 40-ounce pitcher and filled it with a mix of liquors, basically creating a potion that would put any normal person under the table after a few sips.