Though it has some of most iconic lines in film history, acting that exudes genuine affection and a truly inspiring storyline, it’s easy to forget that “The Princess Bride” sat in production purgatory for a decade and was largely overlooked upon its release in 1987.
It finally received its due attention – and, eventually, adoration – from audiences. But Cary Elwes, the English actor who was just 23 when cast in the lead role as Westley, had no idea at the time that it would become a cult classic revered nearly three decades after it was made.
“This movie was made with great camaraderie and warmth, but I’ve been in plenty of movies that were made with camaraderie and warmth that were not successful,” says Elwes, who appears at a SF Sketchfest screening of the film on Monday. “I have a theory, and it’s only a theory, that the movie succeeded because William Goldman was just on fire, and ended up crafting a script that was an instant classic.”
Goldman, who also wrote the book on which the movie is based, did dream up quotable bits of dialogue (“My name is Inigo Montaya,” anyone?). Those lines will be recreated in earnest when Elwes attends the “Quote Along” screening at the Castro Theatre, which encourages audience members to scream out their favorites. “I’m not exactly positive what they have planned for us,” says Elwes. “But I’m sure it will be a great time.”
Directed by Rob Reiner, “The Princess Bride” – which can be found most days channel surfing on cable – hasn’t really left the public consciousness, but it garnered renewed prominence with its 25th anniversary in 2012, and by Elwes’ decision to write a memoir about it. Released in October, “As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride” (the title is a shout-out to Westley’s famous line), debuted at No. 3 on the New York Times bestseller list.
For Elwes, the time was right to write about the making of the film, particularly after reuniting with castmates for anniversary celebrations (although they have stayed in touch). Helped by daily call sheets from the movie – a suggestion from producer Norman Lear – Elwes says the task of writing came easy.
“Luckily for me, my brain isn’t completely fried, so the memories started to come back almost instantly,” says Elwes. “From there, it just flowed. That didn’t surprise me too much, actually. We really are a family. Recounting those memories was a lot of fun.”
IF YOU GO
“The Princess Bride” Quote Along Party
Where: Castro Theatre, 429 Castro St., S.F.
When: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 2
Select SF Sketchfest events
Wheels Off-The Rhett Miller Show: Michael Chabon, Paul F. Tompkins and John Vanderslice appear in the variety show hosted by the Old 97s frontman. 8 p.m. Feb. 4, $32. Cobb’s Comedy Club, 915 Columbus St,, S.F.
Tribute to “Weird Al” Yankovic: Chris Hardwick moderates, with Garfunkel and Oates, Hard ‘n’ Phirm and Jonah Ray. 7 p.m. Feb. 6, $35. Castro Theatre, 429 Castro St., S.F.
The Hotwives of Orlando: Casey Wilson, Tymberlee Hill, Angela Kinsey, Dannah Phirman, Andrea Savage, Kristen Schaal talk about being on the most important show that has ever been on the Internet. 4 p.m. Feb. 7, $30. Verdi Club, 2424 Mariposa St., S.F.