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Mandy Patinkin: 25 Years After 'The Princess Bride,' He's Not Tired Of That Line

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Mandy Patinkin: 25 Years After 'The Princess Bride,' He's Not Tired Of That Line


Mandy Patinkin: 25 Years After 'The Princess Bride,' He's Not Tired Of That Line

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block. At the time, it was...


WALLACE SHAWN: (as Vizzini) ...absolutely, totally and in all other ways inconceivable.

BLOCK: ...that the movie would become the gigantic hit that it is.


SHAWN: (as Vizzini) Inconceivable.

BLOCK: "The Princess Bride" came out 25 years ago. Even though it was just a middling performer at the box office, it became a classic on video, and multitudes of fans have lines from the movie at the tip of their tongues.


SHAWN: (as Vizzini) Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line.

BILLY CRYSTAL: (as Miracle Max) ...except for a nice MLT, mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich, when the mutton is nice and lean.

CARY ELWES: (as Westley) As you wish.

PETER COOK: (as The Impressive Clergyman) Mawwiage. Mawwiage is what bwings us togethaw today.

BLOCK: Directed by Rob Reiner with a screenplay by William Goldman, who wrote the novel it's based on, "The Princess Bride" is a wildly funny, edgy take on a fairy tale, starring a very young Robin Wright as radiant Buttercup, Cary Elwes as her true love, a dastardly Christopher Guest as the six-fingered man, and as a trio of outlaws: Wallace Shawn as the sputtering Sicilian Vizzini.


SHAWN: (as Vizzini) Do you want me to send you back to where you were? Unemployed in Greenland.

BLOCK: Andre the Giant as the gentle hulk Fezzik.


ANDRE THE GIANT: (as Fezzik) It's not my fault being the biggest and the strongest. I don't even exercise.

BLOCK: And the scene-stealing Mandy Patinkin as the sword-slashing Spaniard Inigo Montoya.


MANDY PATINKIN: (as Inigo Montoya) You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

BLOCK: And 25 years later, Mandy Patinkin joins me to talk about "The Princess Bride." Mandy, welcome to the program.

PATINKIN: Thank you. It's good to be here.

BLOCK: Do you ever get tired of listening to those scenes?

PATINKIN: I never do. I ever smile as big as...


PATINKIN: biggest can be from one end of the room to the other.

BLOCK: I can hear it all the way from New York. Your most famous lines in this film have become legend. Let's take a listen.


PATINKIN: (as Inigo Montoya) Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die. Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. My name is Inigo Montoya. My name is Inigo Montoya. Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.


BLOCK: Mandy Patinkin, do people come up to you all the time and try to read those lines back to you?

PATINKIN: All the time...

BLOCK: All the time.

PATINKIN: ...every day when somebody comes up to talk to me about the film or asks me could I just say that line.

BLOCK: What is it about that line? I have to tell you I was watching the movie last night. I haven't seen it for many, many years. My daughter was seeing it for the first time. She's 10. And instantly, she was saying: My name is Inigo Montoya. Prepare to die.

PATINKIN: Well, I don't know what it is. First of all, it's the brilliance of William Goldman and the gift that he gave all of us with this extraordinary book and then movie, and I just got to be the mailman who delivered it. So I take really no credit for it. It was Rob's gorgeous direction. And I'll never forget, Rob said to me, what I really want the actors to do in this movie is as though they're holding their cards, their poker cards in their hand, but they're just hiding one card. And that one card was the twinkle in their eye. The one card was the fun that they knew was underneath everything they were saying. And I never forgot that image that there was always a little secret, and that secret was the fun.

BLOCK: I have to ask you about the scene with Billy Crystal playing Miracle Max. He's trying to revive Westley who has been tortured by the cruel Prince Humperdinck.


CRYSTAL: (as Miracle Max) Well, it just so happens that your friend here is only mostly dead. There's a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Please open his mouth. Now, mostly dead is slightly alive. Now, all dead, well, with all dead, there's usually only one thing that you can do.

PATINKIN: (as Inigo Montoya) What's that?

CRYSTAL: (as Miracle Max) Go through his clothes and look for loose change.


BLOCK: Mandy Patinkin, you're laughing still.

PATINKIN: Oh, God. That was - those were the three greatest days of my life. For three days, I stood off camera while Billy Crystal had cataract contact lenses in so he couldn't see. I was camera left. The camera was between Rob Reiner and myself, and we were facing Billy. My job was to keep feeding Billy his off-camera - my off-camera lines so he could keep doing it. He improvised 13th-century period jokes...


PATINKIN: ...three days straight, 10 hours a day, never the same thing...


PATINKIN: ...never the same line twice. Rob got so hysterical on almost every take, he'd have to leave the room because he couldn't keep quiet from laughing, and it would end up on the soundtrack. And the only injury I received after all that fighting was I bruised a rib from holding in my laughter in the scene with Billy.


BLOCK: I didn't know that was possible.

PATINKIN: I bruised the muscles on the side of my rib because I was so tight trying not to laugh.

BLOCK: I'm talking with Mandy Patinkin who played Inigo Montoya in "The Princess Bride," which is now out in a 25th anniversary edition. Tell me about the final fight scene in the movie when you're dueling with Count Rugen, played by Christopher Guest, the six-fingered man, you can finally avenge your father's death.


PATINKIN: (as Inigo Montoya) Offer me everything I ask for.

: (as Count Tyrone Rugen) Anything you want.

PATINKIN: (as Inigo Montoya) I want my father back.

BLOCK: What was going through your mind as you were shooting that?

PATINKIN: I remember I was on the lawn, that we were in this extraordinary castle where we were shooting, and there were gardens outside. And I would walk through the maze of the gardens while I was just trying to relax, while they were lighting the scene, and I was talking to my father, who had died not that many years before we made the film, and I always had it in my mind that if I could get the six-fingered man, if Inigo could get the six-fingered man, then my father, Mandy's father, would come back and be with me.

And so I just kept talking to my dad as I was walking around the garden, you know, help me find this guy, help me get him, help me bring you back. And the irony was just a few years ago, actually, I was in a gym getting ready to do a concert. And I was on the exercise machine going over my lyrics, and the movie was on the TV on the exercise machine. But I didn't have the sound on, and I needed to do my homework to practice for the concert that night. I finished exercising, stretching.

I went up to my hotel room to have dinner, and my wife was there, and she had the movie on. And it was right at the end of the film, and Inigo says the words that I said 25 years ago when I was a young man, but I didn't hear them in the way that I heard them 25 years later as the man I am today. And those are the most important words to me from the film, and those words are: I have been in the revenge business so long. Now that it's over, I do not know what to do with the rest of my life.

BLOCK: Wow. And hearing those as an older man, you heard them in a totally different way?

PATINKIN: As a young man, I think I was in a bit of the revenge business for too many years of my life. And, you know, somewhere in the past 10 years, I stopped being so angry and started being a little more grateful and literally for the sunrise and the sunsets and my kids and my family and the gifts I've been given. And then I saw that movie, the end of that movie. I didn't see the whole thing, I just caught the end of it, and I heard that line. And as a young man, I remember saying it. I went back and looked at my script to see what notes I'd put in, and I really didn't have many notes for that line. I just said it, and I didn't realize what I was saying. And then I heard it as a grown-up or whatever you want to call me, and it meant everything to me today.

BLOCK: Well, Mandy Patinkin, it's been a delight to talk to you. Thank you so much.

PATINKIN: Same here. Thank you.

BLOCK: That's actor Mandy Patinkin talking about his role as Inigo Montoya in "The Princess Bride" 25 years later. Oh. And there's one last thing he'd like to say.

PATINKIN: Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die. But remember, before you do, you are listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED on NPR.

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