Mark Hamill and Luke Skywalker. Leonard Nimoy and Mr. Spock. Ralph Macchio and Daniel LaRusso, the “karate kid.”
Some actors, no matter what other work they do in their career, are always associated with a singular, iconic role.
You can add Cary Elwes and his memorable character Westley from “The Princess Bride” to the list. When he landed the part, the young actor had just a few roles under his belt. Since the film came out in 1987, the actor has had a slew of acting jobs in films that were acclaimed (“Glory”), cult favorites (“Saw”) and silly fun (“Robin Hood: Men in Tights”), but at the end of the day, he’ll always be the dashing farm hand turned pirate, who battles a giant, the greatest swordsman in the world and a genius to capture the heart of his beloved Princess Buttercup.
He chronicled his love for the film in his book, “As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales From the Making of The Princess Bride,” which came out in paperback in November.
amNewYork spoke with the 54-year-old Englishman.
How has the movie shaped your life? Well it shaped it in many ways. It changed my life. It gave me the life I have today. The family I have, the life I live here, the career I have.
Why did you decide to chronicle the film? I had such a good time making it. It was fun for all of us. One of those unique filming experiences where I can barely remember a day without laughter. [Director] Rob [Reiner] is so delightful to work with. He made it so delightful for us all and I think that shows in the film. I wanted to write a love letter to the fans and to my colleagues.
Was there anything surprising you learned while putting the book together? Yes! I learned that Jimmy Stewart was once up for the role of the grandfather, I think when Norman Jewison had the project. I couldn’t believe how many directors had had it. [Robert] Redford, Jewison, [François] Truffaut, John Boorman. A lot of people tried to make it, couldn’t do it. I was surprised at the stories behind [author] Bill Goldman’s attempts to get the film made — some of the studios collapsed while they had the project, things like that. I was surprised by how similar we felt about the film, the whole cast and myself, how we all feel really grateful for it. And I was surprised that they all came out and wrote the book with me.
Do you have a favorite moment from the film? I can’t pick out one particular moment because the whole process was so fun, which is why I wrote the book. I would have to say the most exciting for me was the swordfight only because we trained so hard for it. So I was very nervous and excited for that because we obviously wanted to do well.
If you were handed a sword right now, how would you do? Oh gosh, I don’t think very well.
What are you working on now? Yeah, I got a couple of roles coming up. I play Andy Warhol in the “Billionaire Boys Club” with Kevin Spacey. And that was a lot of fun to do. I got into the research for that. And then I have a picture with Jason Momoa coming out called “Sugar Mountain” and we had a lot of fun making that. I was very proud of the work we did on that. We worked very hard. We shot in Alaska.
How did you prepare to play Andy Warhol? I read his diaries. I got the part very quickly. Obviously I studied him throughout my life out of interest for myself. Also when I was making the film Factory Girl, I was playing Sam Green, who I knew, who was a very good friend of Andy’s. so I listened to a lot of Sam’s conversations with Andy that they taped together which I still had. So I had Andy’s voice to listen to and his diaries, which are very revealing. I recommend that read actually, they’re really great.
When is your Crackle series “The Art of More” returning?We have season two of “The Art of More,” which will air on Crackle for free Nov. 16. You just go to Crackle.com and start watching last season right away with extremely limited commercials.
I’m a huge fan of Andre the Giant. Do you have any memories of him that you could share?For fun in Paris when he was starting to become a bit of a star for wrestling, when they’d go out late night drinking, he’d pick up their cars and move them so they couldn’t find where they were parked. Or sometimes he’d pick them up and put them between a wall and a lamp post so they couldn’t get out. Can you imagine? And the laughter from him. He would hide behind a truck. And he’d wait for them to come out and look for their car. He thought it was hilarious.