While most of those attending the Toronto Film Festival were busy watching the big screens Saturday evening, one of the more unique experiences of the festival was inconceivably transpiring live on stage.
Jason Reitman, the director behind movies such as Up in the Air who has established a side career with live reads of classic scripts using modern actors, conducted a live reading of The Princess Bride, the beloved 1980s fable at a packed Ryerson Theatre, assembling a crew of actors to take on the various roles.
However, it was having Cary Elwes reprise his classic role as Westley for the reading that had fans standing on their feet. They also screamed and hollered when Rob Reiner, the film’s director, came on stage to take on the role of the grandfather reading his sick grandson the story of the princess bride.
The crowd went ape when Patrick Stewart was introduced for the villainous role of Humperdinck. Rachel McAdams played Princess Buttercup while former hockey player Georges Laraque played Fezzik, the role originated by Andre the Giant. Donald Glover was Vizzini.
It’s almost impossible to describe the effect the reading had on the audience, who clearly hold the movie on a pedestal of its own. Some women in the audience actually swooned at romantic lines delivered by Elwes. And when Elwes first uttered “As you wish”? Pandemonium.
Many other lines caused the eruption of cheers and claps, an occurrence that happened too many times to count as the movie’s William Goldman-penned script remains one of the most quotable movies of all time.
Even Elwes fell under the spell of the event, for when Stewart was delivering a monologue next to him, he whipped out his camera and took a photo.
“I couldn’t help it!” he told the crowd, which was in stitches. Even Stewart couldn’t keep himself from laughing.
It was, however, comedic actor Chris O’Dowd who surprisingly stole the show, delivering a delicious lispy version of six-fingered killer Count Rugen (originally played by Christopher Guest), as well as the scene stealing healer, Miracle Max.
And Reitman’s sister, Catherine Reitman, more than ably stepped into the shoes of the revenge seeking swashbuckler Inigo Montoya when Gael Garcia Bernal was a no-show due to a delayed plane. (Bernal showed up two-thirds of the way through.)
Reiner and the movie hold a special place for Reitman, helping him set on his own filmmaking the path.
“As I kid, I loved movies,”said Reitman, the son of Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman, “and I often wondered whether a son of a director could also be a director.”
When he saw a director’s handbook, he looked up his father’s name, and above it he saw the last name Reiner and two entries, Carl Reiner and Rob Reiner. “’Huh,’” he recalled thinking, ‘Sons could be directors, too.’”
Reitman also proudly said the event would not be recorded and asked the audience to respect that. “There are so few things in this world that are not downloadable. Tonight is just for you.”