Packed with colorful characters and infinitely quotable lines, 1987’s The Princess Bride is a movie for all ages that has only grown in popularity. Revel in all things inconceivable and wondrous with our collection of Princess Bride fun facts.
The Princess Bride is based on the William Goldman bookpublished in 1973. At the time, Goldman was best known as the Academy Award-winning screenwriter behind Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
The inspiration for Princess Buttercup was Goldman’s daughters. One night when asked what they’d like their bedtime story to be about, one daughter chirped, “a princess!” The other demanded, “A bride!”
There is no S. Morgenstern. To add another level of intrigue to his book, Goldman created the pseudonym. And took the further step of claiming his Princess Bride was an abridged version of the fictitious author’s tale.
The movie had lots of false starts before finally making it into production. 20th Century Fox paid Goldman $500,000 for the book’s rights and to pen the screenplay. But their version with Superman II director Richard Lester, fell apart. Later director Rob Reiner secured funding for the rights with the help of Norman Lear.
The Cliffs of Insanity are real. Those impossible high cliffs that Fennick and Westley scale? They are in reality the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland, reaching as high as 702 feet over the Atlantic Ocean.
Prince Humperdinck’s Castle was actually Haddon Hall of Derbyshire, England. Fittingly it was built to house a bastard, the illegitimate son of William the Conqueror. But to give it some added appeal, the production added spires to its exterior.
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Andre The Giant saved Robin Wright from the chill of shooting on location. The film shot throughout England and Ireland, and occasionally on days where it got quite cold. Wright recalled at a Princess Bride reunion in 2011 how the 7’4″ wrestler-turned-actor would keep her warm by placing his massive hands protectively on top of her head in between takes.
Andre had to learn his lines phonetically. Born in France, English was not the wrestler’s first language. So Reiner created audiotapes of Andre’s scenes so the performer could memorize them without having to struggle reading in script.
Director Rob Reiner has an unexpected cameo in the R.O.U.S.s scene. The rodents of unusual size were portrayed by little people in costumes, but the sounds they emit was all Reiner. In the film’s audio commentary, he admitted he nearly lost his voice doing it.
They were some serious onset injuries. Christopher Guest was encouraged by Cary Elwes to hit him hard when Count Rugen attempts to knock out Westley. He did, and Elwes had to be sent to the hospital, shutting down production for the day. In his upcoming book As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride, Elwes revealed that he broke his toe in between takes trying to ride Andre the Giant’s dune buggy. If you look for it in the early Dread Pirate Roberts scenes, you’ll notice he hobbles a bit.
Cary Elwes and Mandy Patinkin learned to fence for The Princess Bride. To make the most out of their dynamic duel, the pair were required to learn the discipline with both their right and left hands, for you see they were not left-handed! The sprawling sequence took ten days to shoot.
Elwes was cast in part because he reminded Reiner of swashbuckling stars star Douglas Fairbanks and Errol Flynn. The same was true for comedy helmer Mel Brooks, who’d later hire Elwes to take on a parody version of Flynn’s most famous role with Robin Hood: Men In Tights.
Elwes imitated Fat Albert in his meeting with Reiner. The helmer flew out to talk about The Princess Bride with Elwes, while he was shooting Maschenska in Berlin. There, the two had a conversation that wound up on Bill Cosby, and irrepressible mimick that he is, Elwes started impersonating Fat Albert. “To this day, I don’t know why. Probably nerves,” he told audiences at New York Comic Con, “For some reason Rob burst out laughing when I did that. And I thought, well I’m in good shape, I made the director laugh.”
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
The MLT–mutton, lettuce and tomato–line was improvised. Billy Crystal, who made up this line–and many others–on set, told EW that fans still approach him, quoting it.
Reiner wanted Danny DeVito for the role of the evil strategist Vizzini. Wallace Shawn was given the role once DeVito declined. Considering his performance in the classic battle of wits against the Dread Pirate Roberts, any other choice is inconceivable!
Uma Thurman auditioned for the role of Buttercup. Robin Wright eventually won the part, but Meg Ryan, Carrie Fisher, Sean Young, Suzy Amis, Courtney Cox and Whoopi Goldberg were considered during casting.
Arnold Schwarzenegger was considered for Fezzikin an early incarnation of the movie adaptation. By the time production was actually ready to roll, he was too big a star for the supporting part. Which was fine with Goldman, who’d long had Andre the Giant as his first pick.
The film was not a box office hit;it thrived in home video. Made for an estimated $16 million, The Princess Bride pulled in just $30 million domestic. Though it wasn’t a flop, this was a disappointment when compared to say the highest domestic grossing movie of 1987, Three Men and a Baby, at $167 million. But once it came out on VHS, The Princess Bride‘s reputation grew to that of a cult classic.
Bill Clinton is a big fan of the film. On The Today Show, Elwes recounted how met Clinton during his White House tenure, and the President interrupted Elwes attempt to introduce himself, saying, “I know exactly who you are, Cary…Chelsea and I are huge fans of The Princess Bride. We’ve seen it over 200 times.”
John Gotti’s crew were fans as well. Once while dining at the same restaurant as the notorious mobster, Reiner was approached by one of Gotti’s men, who looked him in the eye and quoting, “You killed my father. Prepare to die.” The intimidating man then confessed his love of The Princess Bride.
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
The original ending was very different. Originally Fred Savage was to look out his window to see Fezzik, Inigo, Westly and Buttercup outside on white steeds, waving at him. This sequence was shot, but Reiner didn’t like it. So, a reshoot was set up, creating the scene where the grandson asks the grandfather to come over tomorrow and read him the story again. The grandfather naturally replies, “As you wish.”
The Princess Bride was restaged as a reading in 2010. Jason Reitman recast, having Paul Rudd as Westley, Mindy Kaling as Buttercup, Patton Oswalt as Vizzini, Kevin Pollack as Miracle Max, Nick Kroll as Count Rugen, Goran Visnjic as Inigo Montoya. Cary Elwes went from Westley–his role in the original film–to the villainous Humperdinck, while The Princess Bride’s director Rob Reiner read the role of the grandfather, and Fred Savage, now 34, reprised his role as the sick grandson.
There was nearly a Princess Bride musical. Author William Goldman was working with Tony Award-winning composer Adam Guettel to transform the love story of Westley and Buttercup into a full-blown stage musical. But in 2007, the project broke down over revenue contracts.
The movie also inspired a board game. It was called The Princess Bride: Storming the Castle, a nod to Miracle Max’s line “Have fun storming the castle!” Playing one of the film’s characters, you must make it around the board to save the princess.
There may be a sequel, someday. Goldman has long teased a follow-up to be titled Buttercup’s Baby. The furthest he’s gotten is a first chapter, which has been included in some printings of the Princess Bride