If you recognize the phrase "As You Wish", you've probably seen The Princess Bride at least once, and maybe multiple times. Cary Elwes, who starred in the movie as Westley, farmhand turned pirate, co-authored the New York Times bestseller, As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride. And, Elwes' account proves to be as charming as the movie itself.
Although Elwes wrote the book just last year, he relates his feelings as a young, twenty-three-year-old actor, in awe of the team put together in 1986 to film William Goldman's beloved story. Here was a young man, directed by Rob Reiner, who met the author of the book and the script, worked with Mandy Patinkin, Robin Wright, Andre the Giant, Billy Crystal, Chris Sarandon. He was in awe of all of the others, a little in love with Robin, who starred as Buttercup, the princess. And, Elwes gathers his memories, and the comments from many of the others who worked on the film with him, including Rob Reiner and William Goldman.
This is truly a book for lovers of The Princess Bride. Elwes takes readers through the entire filming of the movie, from the time he first heard about it through its failure to be marketed well by a studio that didn't know what to do with it. And, he ends with the triumphant twenty-fifth reunion and showing at Lincoln Center. But, it's all those details, including how Elwes and Patinkin had to learn to fight for "The Greatest Swordfight in Modern Times", that brings the filming of the movie to life. And, it's Elwes' joy, shared by the others involved in the film, that sparks the book. Cary Elwes takes readers back to the filming of a beloved movie. The stories, the photos from the filming of the movie, reward the fan.
Rob Reiner, in his Foreword, sums up the film. "Was it a fairy tale? Was it a swashbuckling adventure? Was it a love story? Or was it just a nutty satire? The fact is it was, and is, all of the above." And, Cary Elwes and Joe Layden tell all of those stories in As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from The Making of The Princess Bride.
Here's a note for lovers of books, and The Princess Bride. Remove the cover, and look inside the cover itself. Shepard Fairey's artwork INSIDE the cover is gorgeous.
Anecdote: Last year, I met Cary Elwes at Book Expo America, where he was promoting this book. He was as gracious as you would expect, telling me he liked the spelling of my name. (Had I known his wife's name was Lisa Marie, I would have told him my middle name is Marie as well.) But, the funniest comment of the day caused him to laugh, too, when Kathy Reichs, who followed him on the panel, said fifteen women in the room got up and left after he was done speaking.
As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes with Joe Layden. Touchstone. 2014. ISBN 9781476764023 (hardcover), 259p.
FTC Full Disclosure - I bought my copy of the book.