If you think there's a movie more perfect than "The Princess Bride," sit down. You have some thinking to do.
For those of us still left standing -- which is everyone, right? -- there was a momentous event in Toronto tonight (September 12) at the Toronto International Film Festival. As part of his legendary live-read series, Jason Reitman brought together many of today's mega-stars on one stage to read the original screenplay of the film live. Reitman acts as the narrator, reading the stage directions, and stars fill in to read the parts of the characters. There are no props and no rehearsals. It's all worked out on stage: beloved celebrities reading beloved scripts.
Reitman's live-reads always have the special air of a one-time event. The cast has never gotten together as a group before, and recording is strictly forbidden. It's an experience for those in the room, something that couldn't be recreated exactly the same ever again.
"The Princess Bride" also has a unique Toronto connection: the film enjoyed its world premiere at TIFF 30 years ago. Reitman brought an all-star cast back to the stage for an evening of surprises and laughter. Extended applauses were many; R.O.U.S.s were few.
Ahead, here are the most inconceivably amazing moments of the "Princess Bride" live-read.
When Reitman announced his surprise cast members.WireImage
As is his tradition, Reitman announced the majority of the cast members on Twitter in the days and hours leading up to the live-read, but several parts, including those of the grandfather (originally played by Peter Falk), Prince Humperdinck (created by Chris Sarandon) and Westley (originated by Cary Elwes) were left a mystery. None other than Rob Reiner, who directed "The Princess Bride," was announced on-stage as the grandfather, Patrick Stewart as Humperdinck and Elwes himself returned to read the role of Westley. Thud. That's me hitting the floor with happiness. Oh, and if you were wondering, Elwes did get an extended standing ovation when he took the stage.
Rachel McAdams wore a Buttercup dress.WireImage
McAdams, who read the part of Princess Buttercup, totally dressed the part in a white lace dress. I respect the commitment to the cause.
Former NHL player Georges Laraque charmed the socks off the whole place.
As gentle giant Fezzic, athlete Laraque came out of nowhere to capture the sweet simplicity that Andre the Giant infused the original role with. The dialogue is so simple it could sound ridiculous, but there were audible "awwwws" when Laraque dropped that, "Inigo? I hope we win" line. In fact, I'm awwww-ing again now, just remembering.
Jason Reitman revealed his favorite stage direction of all time.
Everyone knows every word to "The Princess Bride" (seriously, I could hear people behind me whispering along with the script, word for word), but the genius stage directions, written by William Goldman (who also wrote the novel), are less known. One in particular was so good that Reitman himself burst out laughing while reading it, then said that it was his favorite stage direction of all time. The line in question? "Humperdinck was so scared he didn't know whether to pee or wind his watch."
Chris O'Dowd debuted a hilariously weird voice -- and kept it.WireImage
For his role as Count Rugen, O'Dowd tried on and stuck with a goofy, lispy accent totally different from his usual Irish timbre. It's hard to describe, but every single line he threw out cracked up the audience. Who knew that a simple "If you haven't got your health, you haven't got anything" could be so funny? Best of all, he kept the voice consistent through the entire reading.
When Serious Actors lost it with sexual innuendo.
Remember Westley's unbelievably romantic line, "I will always come for you"? Yeah, it has a whole new slightly less romantic meaning when immediately after Cary Elwes spits it out the entire row of actors begins snickering. "Not like THAT," Reitman clarified through laughter.
Catherine Reitman saves the day, and Gael Garcia Bernal makes a triumphant entrance.
Gael Garcia Bernal was announced as reading the role of Inigo "You Killed My Father, Prepare To Die" Montoya (originated by Mandy Patinkin), but there was one little hitch in that giddy-up: his plane to Toronto was delayed, and he was still airborne when the live-read started. Enter Catherine Reitman, sister to Jason. She filled in, delivering a flawless accent and impassioned delivery (Jason literally fist-pumped the first time she delivered the whole "prepare to die" spiel). In a dramatic turn of events, Bernal arrived straight from the airport an hour and a half into the live-read (just before it was time to storm the castle) and also absolutely killed it. Big ups to both.
The first time Cary Elwes said "as you wish."
As it turns out, here's what happens when your favorite movie throughout childhood is "The Princess Bride" and Cary Elwes is sitting on a stage and he says "as you wish," his secret code for "I love you" to Buttercup, for the first time: you cry a little bit.
Either that, or someone was chopping onions in the Ryerson theater. Either way, a surprising and not altogether unpleasant happening. If you have the opportunity to have Westley himself quote his iconic line to you -- and, yes, his voice sounds exactly the same now as it did in the movie decades ago -- I highly recommend the experience.