(NEW YORK) — When The Princess Bride arrived in theaters 30 years ago today, it wasn’t exactly a hit with audiences. After 11 weeks in theaters, it had earned just $25.5 million, according to Box Office Mojo. But home video gave it a second life, and it’s now considered a classic — which makes the movie’s star, Cary Elwes, very happy.
“I’m very proud of it,” Elwes, who played Westley in the film, tells ABC News. “It gave me the career and life I have, so I’m very grateful for it.”
The Princess Bride was based on the 1973 novel of the same name by William Goldman. In an interview with ABC Radio a few years ago, Elwes said Goldman struggled for a decade to bring the tale to the big screen.
“It had so many genres in it that studios were baffled by it,” he explained. “They didn’t know what they had on their hands…[they] just didn’t want to touch it.”
Elwes also revealed that he wasn’t the first choice for the role of Westley: future King’s Speech Oscar winner and Kingsman series lead Colin Firth was in the running. In addition, he says the director wanted Jimmy Stewart to play the grandfather — a role which went to Peter Falk.
“I know he [originally] had Arnold Schwarzenegger in the role of Fezzik,” Elwes added.
Fezzik was instead played by the late wrestler Andre the Giant, whose ability to drink massive amounts of alcohol was legendary. Elwes says that during production of The Princess Bride, Andre drank to dull the pain from a medical problem he had.
“He was medicating himself and he was in an enormous amount of pain and he never grumbled, he never made a fuss about it,” recalled Elwes. “And by the way, as much as he drank, he never missed a line, he never didn’t hit a mark.”
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