Crown Cary Elwes the prince of BookCon — his Princess Bride panel on Saturday, a sneak peek of his upcoming book As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales From the Making of The Princess Bride (due in October), was so chock-full of stories we’d be mostly dead if we shared them all, so we’re giving you a choice selection of farts, fencing, and Fat Albert:
“The fart story.”
“What I like to call the Mighty Wind. Andre — I should start by saying he was a gentle giant, the sweetest guy … And one day, the first day, actually, the first scene we had together, Rob [Reiner] said, ‘Okay, roll cameras, action,’ and I think my first words were, ‘I’ll fight you both together, I’ll take you both apart,’ but as I was saying this, an enormous, monumental fart starts to emit from Andre. It literally lasted 18 seconds. And he just sat there with a grin on his face. And I don’t know if he was grinning out of relief, or grinning at the humor of it, knowing that this was going to take a while. And I looked over and I saw the soundman who had the headphones on do this,[imitates the guy pulling the muffs away from his ears] and literally everything shook, and I just lost it. I couldn’t believe it. As I started laughing, Andre started laughing. And then I made the mistake of looking up at his wig, and there was steam coming [out]! And the combination of the fart, which was still continuing, and the steam coming out of his wig, I mean, forget being mostly dead, I mostly lost it! Gone, gone, gone. The next four or five takes, Andre would start the take with his line, and I would say my line, and about three takes in, I had to beg Rob to help me. That was probably one of the funniest days. And at the end of the day, I apologized to Andre for laughing at his fart and he said, ‘It was a good one.’”
The broken toe.
Andre used an ATV to get around on set, and he urged Elwes to give it a spin. “One day he pulled up to me, ‘You want to try it, don’t you?’ ‘I can’t. I’ve never tried it before.’ ‘You know you want to. It’s so much fun!’ I put the thing in gear, and I literally went over a rock, and my toe got caught between the rock and the clutch and bent it all the way back. I knew I broke it instantly! And I still had to shoot a scene where I’d be running, and I’d broken my toe!” So then when he returned to fencing training, his instructor said what they would do was focus on the arm movements and have him stand still while the toe healed for a few weeks. “In a strange way, it actually helped, because I had to focus more on the movements in my arms, and learn how to become proficient, more proficient probably than if I hadn’t broken my toe, at being left-handed, because I just had to focus on the sword-fighting itself. So that scene with Mandy [Patinkin] is actually shot with me with a broken toe! I felt like we accomplished something pretty good, even though I was a little bit handicapped.”
The Fat Albert impression.
“I was in Berlin doing a film [Maschenka], and my agent [Harriet Robinson] called, and she said Rob Reiner and his producing partner Andy [Scheinman] were coming to see me and they want to talk about this film The Princess Bride. And I knew the book, I had read the book when I was 13. And I knew who Rob Reiner was, because he had just done This Is Spinal Tap — funny movie, right? So I was very nervous about it. And then about five minutes into the meeting, Rob pulls out the script and he goes, ‘You know, maybe we could just read a few words, just so I can hear it?’ and my heart sank, I thought, ‘That’s it, I’ll never get this part.’” Later, when they were just chatting, they were talking about American television. “I said, ‘I love Bill Cosby,’ and Rob said, ‘You do?’ ‘Sure I do! I grew up on Fat Albert. In fact, I remember this …” And then Elwes did a spot-on impression of Cosby’s “Hey, hey, hey!” “And Rob said, later on, that was the key, that was the turning point. Had I not done a Fat Albert impersonation, I would probably not be sitting in front of you here today.”