In As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride, Cary Elwes, a.k.a. Westley a.k.a. The Dread Pirate Roberts, recounts entertaining memories of his time working on this iconic movie. This book includes reminiscences from all the still-living members of the cast; Rob Reiner, the director; and William Goldman, who wrote both the novel upon which the movie is based and the screenplay, with the audio version of the book containing the recordings of the actual interviews by these artists. The pieces all blend together well, leaving a delightful book that will thrill fans of The Princess Bride movie and even please those who have never seen it.
Even though the book is written by Cary Elwes, with Joe Layden, it gives a very well-rounded perspective of the various people involved in making this movie and the fun they had doing so. We learn about the challenges getting the book made into a movie and the process of casting the film. Then book goes into the enjoyable experience each cast member had with this particular movie. I liked hearing the opinions from the various people interviewed.
What especially comes across in the book is the great love they all felt for Andre the Giant, in particular. He appears to have been a really genial man, always eager to please and with a good nature. At 7’6″, 550 pounds, he really fit the role of the giant Fezzik, but he also had a lot of challenges in his life, growing up with a pituitary gland disorder that shortened his life. In addition to the repercussions from his medical condition, Andre’s career as a professional wrestler left him in severe pain that could only be treated with enormous amounts of alcohol. All the people interviewed had only great things to say about this late actor.
This is one book I highly recommend listening to rather than reading visually. To listen to the voices Elwes uses for each fellow actor, Reiner, and Goldman demonstrates his talent for impersonations. This is appropriate given that the thing that sold Reiner on Elwes was Elwes’s impersonation of Fat Albert, demonstrating his ability to be funny, as well as look like a young Errol Flynn. He especially does a great job with Billy Crystal’s speech. In addition, each of the many people who were interviewed for the book gives a great performance. The audio really makes this book ever so much stronger.
I really recommend As You Wish to anyone. The book is full of humor and fascinating details on the making of The Princess Bride. It looks back from the perspective of the 25th anniversary of the release of the movie and the legacy that it has established despite its poor box office results. I give this book five stars.
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