‘Princess Bride’ sequel? Inconceivable! says writer William Goldman

Oct. 03, 2012 | 8:49 a.m.
pb Princess Bride sequel? Inconceivable! says writer William Goldman

Cary Elwes, left, Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin, Chris Sarandon, Wallace Shawn, Carol Kane and Billy Crystal at Alice Tully Hall in New York. Credit: Stephen Lovekin / Getty Images

NEW YORK — Twenty-five years after “The Princess Bride” first stormed theaters, director Rob Reiner, writer William Goldman and cast members Billy Crystal, Robin Wright, Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin, Carol Kane, Wallace Shawn and Chris Sarandon reunited at the New York Film Festival on Tuesday night for a boisterous screening of the quotable fantasy-comedy timed to the release of the movie on Blu-ray this week.

Goldman, 81, who wrote the 1973 novel and the screenplay for “The Princess Bride,” confessed that crafting a sequel to the now-cult movie has stumped him for years.

“I’m desperate to make it and write it and I don’t know how,” said an emotional Goldman, who also penned the scripts for “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and “All the President’s Men.” “I would love to make it, more than anything else I’ve not written.”

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In a Q&A that often mirrored the rollicking and sweet tone of the movie, the filmmakers shared stories of sword fights, giants and “rodents of unusual size” for the audience of more than 1,000 people who turned up to see “The Princess Bride” at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall.

Reiner said he came to Goldman’s script after several other high-profile directors, including Norman Jewison, Robert Redford and Francois Truffaut, had tried and failed to make it, and described pleading his case to the skeptical writer.

“He looked at me with the eyes of, ‘What are you gonna do to it?’ ” Reiner said of Goldman. Ultimately it was Reiner’s knack for comedy, demonstrated in his 1984 satire “This Is Spinal Tap,” that helped win over the screenwriter.

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The cast members said strangers often quote them the movie’s most indelible lines, in particular the mantra of vengeance Patinkin delivers as an orphaned sword fighter: “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”

“Little kids, their parents, their grandparents ask me to say it,” Patinkin said.

Crystal improvised many of his lines in the small but memorable role of Miracle Max, including an ode to “mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwiches,” according to his costars.

“He was making up 13th century period jokes,” Patinkin said. “I bruised a rib holding in my laughter.”

princessbride Princess Bride sequel? Inconceivable! says writer William Goldman

Cary Elwes and Robin Wright in “The Princess Bride” (20th Century Fox)

The filmmakers shared some behind-the-scenes stories: Crystal explained the inspiration for Miracle Max’s age makeup — “I wanted to look like a combination of my grandmother and Casey Stengel,” he said — and Patinkin described a cast bonding moment while hanging off the movie’s “Cliffs of Insanity.”

Shawn had a deathly fear of heights, Patinkin said, and was terrified of shooting the scene of their climbing the 35-foot cliffs together with Wright and their now-deceased costar, Andre the Giant. Patinkin said that Andre, the 7-foot-4 pro wrestler who played Fezzik, cradled the 5-foot-2 Shawn in a kind of papoose sling as the group ascended on a forklift. “Andre patted his head and said, ‘Don’t worry. I’ll take care of you,’ ” Patinkin said.

Upon its theatrical release in 1987, “The Princess Bride” was a modest success, grossing $30.8 million off a $16-million budget and garnering mainly positive reviews. But the film has grown in influence over the years.

During Tuesday night’s screening, the crowd often joined in on the movie’s most memorable lines — including Shawn’s “Inconceivable!” and Elwes’ “As you wish.” Their reaction seemed to delight Reiner, Goldman and the cast members, who remained in their seats for the duration of the film.

“We have not seen this with an audience for 26 years,” Crystal said. “I’m in something that’s really important. That’s the ‘as you wish’ for me.”

— Rebecca Keegan


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21 Responses to ‘Princess Bride’ sequel? Inconceivable! says writer William Goldman

  1. imdb says:

    His name is Wallace Shaw, not Shawn.

  2. Local man says:

    The Princess Bride is one of those few "perfect" movies. It had just the right tone, the perfect balance of comedy, romance and action, wonderful casting, writing and direction. Nothing could make it better, and it should never, ever be re-made. No sequel either.

  3. Dawn Johnson-Deal says:

    This is the perfect movie. Trying to make a sequel would be impossible and a waste of time. It stands alone.

  4. A great look at a timeless movie-Cary Elwes is the most underrated leading man of the 80's and 90's-his Dudley in "Lady Jane" was magical! 25 years? Inconceivable!

  5. gloria says:

    what a great article and a perfect move. I sent the article to all my sisters; we've got the movie memorized.

  6. markdavismd says:

    Great movie, great cast and well worth watching. Mark Davis MD

  7. tapadance says:

    Since Goldman always "claimed" he was simply transcribing a longer book, he could always sit down and give us the Lord of the Rings version of Princess Bride. Complete with long appendixes detailing the history of the royal families of both countries.

  8. Joan Perin says:

    I was at Alice Tully Hall for the 25th Anniversary film showing and the on stage reunion. It was an extraordinary evening. The audience cheered and applauded when each cast member appeared in the film, and when the memorable dialogue was uttered. I couldn't believe that I was in the same room as these incredible actors watching together with them my favorite film.

  9. guest says:

    where the hell was Christopher Guest?

  10. tbplayer says:

    Billy Crystal could play his role now without the makeup. I guess he ended up looking like his grandmother.

  11. Jenny says:

    I LOVE this film and would really, really appreciate the opportunity to see this on the big screen again!!!! Anyone know how to contact Rob Reiner? I can see it doing super box office this time around!

  12. Erik says:

    I wish there could have been recognition of Andre the Giant, RIP, love this movie!!!

  13. Great film… RIP Andre..

  14. Tim says:

    The book was better. By far.

  15. Betty says:

    The Princess Bride. I'm 62 and have seen many movies. Only a few are perfect. This one is perfect.
    A sequel really isn't necessary. Let's just let it sit there through time as the perfect movie. I do plan now to get the book and READ it to the grandchildren, as Peter Faulk did. I think this might be my favorite movie of all time. Betty in TX

  16. @erikcore77 says:

    He is thinking the wrong way about the book, think prequel since the movie had cool backstory- if you cant do the sequel do to issues of logic do a prequel.

  17. Guest says:

    The Silent Gondoliers, also by S. Morgenstern, would be a real challenge to adapt, but might work as a film if done right.

  18. Dana says:

    I came up with a plot for a sequel about a year ago. My whole family loves it, but I can't quite seem to be able to find the motivation to publish it or present it to William Goldman. I even started writing a script for a film of it, but I still don't have the motivation to finish it. What should I do?

  19. Joseph says:

    it was left open for a sequel with the dread pirate roberts, wesly even said his friend would make a wonderful dread pirate roberts and it would be nice to see some covering of this legendary corrector

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