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Cary Elwes recently wowed audiences at New York Comic Con by reliving some of the on-set tales from his time filming The Princess Bride, but perhaps the funniest story was actually about his audition for the movie . It turns out the the British actor landed the part despite the fact that he performed an impression of Fat Albert during his tryout.
According to Comic Book Resources, Elwes was at the hugely popular event to not only discuss the cult, comedy classic, but to also promote his new memoir, As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride. As you can probably imagine, the evening was pretty much packed to the brim with chatter that revolved around Rob Reiner’s joyous effort. But it was his comments surrounding his casting as Westley that proved to be the highlight. Elwes began by revealing that he was a huge fan of both William Goldman’s 1973 novel, The Princess Bride, and Rob Reiner, who directed the adaptation of the book. This is probably why he was a tad nervous before his audition. When he first met the legendary This Is Spinal Tap director, the pair quickly realized that they both shared a deep love of popular culture, and a combination of nerves and excitement then resulted in Cary Elwes performing an impression that still mystifies him to this day. I’ll let him carry on the story from this point ….
"Somehow Bill Cosby came up, and for some strange reason I found myself doing an impression of Fat Albert. To this day, I don’t know why. Probably nerves. For some reason Rob burst out laughing when I did that. And I thought, well I’m in good shape, I made the director laugh, this is cool."
Cary Elwes then went on to reveal that he actually has debilitating nerves that has long prevented him from being a good performer during auditions. It was no different during his attempts to land the lead in The Princess Bride,and when he returned to reciting lines from Goldman’s impeccable script he once again stuttered. It was so bad that when he left the appointment he felt as though he wouldn’t get the part. Four or five days later, though, his hypothesis was proved to be well wide of the mark, as his agent revealed that he’d landed the coveted role.
As it turned out, rather than being a hindrance to his audition, it turned out that Elwes' impromptu impression actually helped him get the part. Once filming had begun, Rob Reiner went up to the actor on set and confirmed that his impression of Fat Albert actually convinced the director he was the right man for the film.
"Rob brought it up later on, he said, ‘You know, we thought you were kinda funny but when you did that Fat Albert thing, that really sold it."
And let’s thank the heavens that Elwes impulsively decided to pay homage to the portly animated character, because he carries the film’s effervescent plot with a joyful naivety that ultimately enhances the adventure. In fact he was so perfect, it’s impossible to picture The Princess Bride without his preposterously handsome mug.