As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes
Published by Touchstone
Publication Date: October 14, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Memoir
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
From actor Cary Elwes, who played the iconic role of Westley in The Princess Bride, comes a first-person account and behind-the-scenes look at the making of the cult classic film filled with never-before-told stories, exclusive photographs, and interviews with costars Robin Wright, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, and Mandy Patinkin, as well as author and screenwriter William Goldman, producer Norman Lear, and director Rob Reiner.
The Princess Bride has been a family favorite for close to three decades. Ranked by the American Film Institute as one of the top 100 Greatest Love Stories and by the Writers Guild of America as one of the top 100 screenplays of all time, The Princess Bride will continue to resonate with audiences for years to come.
Cary Elwes was inspired to share his memories and give fans an unprecedented look into the creation of the film while participating in the twenty-fifth anniversary cast reunion. In As You Wish he has created an enchanting experience; in addition to never-before seen photos and interviews with his fellow cast mates, there are plenty of set secrets, backstage stories, and answers to lingering questions about off-screen romances that have plagued fans for years!
With a foreword by Rob Reiner and a limited edition original poster by acclaimed artist Shepard Fairey, As You Wish is a must-have for all fans of this beloved film.
If you are not a Princess Bride fan or if you haven’t seen it (horror-filled gasp!), move right along. For fans of the movie, though, this book is a fun, sweet diversion.
I would not call myself a massive fan. I don’t know every single line, just the biggies. My viewings probably number under a dozen, not multiple dozen as die-hard fans can brag. But it’s my favorite fairy tale movie, and I still enjoy it every time I see it. I love the sweet, adorable love story between Westley and Buttercup and the way it gently but lovingly satirizes the genre. It shows respect but also a sly sense of humor. This book captures all of that positive vibe and gives a bit of a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the movie.
I actually listened to the audiobook version, which I highly recommend because it’s narrated by the author, Cary Elwes. Even better, it includes passages read by other cast members and those involved in making the film. It is really fun to hear their reminiscences in their own voices. And anyone who has ever heard Cary Elwes’ voice knows it is just plain lovely. I didn’t mind spending time with him in my car, I can tell you! Obviously you can never really know celebrities, but he came off in this book as immensely kind, classy, hard working, and just plain adorable. I think what makes the book work is Elwes’ incredible humility. He is justifiably proud of his accomplishments, but he is open and honest about the insecurities he had and the mistakes he made. He is a trustworthy and likeable narrator, and I can’t see any of the other actors from the film pulling off this memoir quite so pleasantly.
Elwes is so charming, though, that the book lacks some tension, especially in the first half. There are a few sections where there is a little conflict or some “can we overcome this challenge” concerns, but overall Elwes is relentlessly positive and has such faith in his colleagues that we never doubt the outcome. He has nothing but glowing things to say about his co-stars (and they about him, for that matter). He doesn’t gossip or engage in finger pointing. Mostly he just praises everyone involved in the film in a way that appears, at least, very genuine. He reserves his criticisms for himself, especially when relating the story of how he foolishly injured himself off set and jeopardized the movie. Again, he isn’t afraid to admit his stupidity, which is refreshingly forthright for a Hollywood star. Of course, just as in a romance, we all know this story has a happy ending, so the tension never goes very far.
If you’re looking for a gossipy, tell-all book about the movie, this won’t be it, but I enjoyed hearing more about one of my favorite films. It seems like these people really had a magical time making the movie, and for me it’s only made watching the Princess Bride even more enjoyable.
Grade: 4 out of 5