Princess Bride Characters

Thursday, April 14 by Stephen Lloyd

While the plot of the 1987 movie "Princess Bride" is entertaining, the main strength lies in the "Princess Bride" characters. They range from outright silly to so over-the-top serious that they're hilarious to create one of the greatest ensemble cast comedies.  

  1. Westley. Of all "Princess Bride" characters, Westley, played by Cary Elwes, is the quintessential swashbuckling hero. Westley goes from shy stable boy to witty, masked pirate leader attempting to reunite with his true love, Buttercup. In a movie full of great one-liners, he provides much of the cocky ones. 
  2. Buttercup. Every adventure tale needs a princess and Buttercup fills this role. Robin Wright plays this "Princess Bride" character as a mishmash of stereotypes, from breathy, heaving bosom innocence to a no-nonsense independence. However, like in many fairy tales, Buttercup is often useless in times of trouble.
  3. Prince Humperdinck. This "Princess Bride" character is Buttercup's betrothed but in a role-reversal as one of the main villains, plotting to end his bride's life. Played by Chris Sarandon, he looks the part of the over-dressed, vain royal person and speaks in a masculine but simpering tone about his "superior" skills in everything. The look of a barely concealed temper tantrum type rage is constantly on his face.
  4. Vizzini. Wallace Shawn plays this "Princess Bride" character and uses his short stature and nasal-sounding voice to great effect. Vizzini is a crime boss with a Napoleonic complex about his intellect. He kidnaps Buttercup in order to start a war he can profit from. The word "inconceivable" is now all but synonymous with this character.
  5. Inigo Montoya. Clearly modeled after Zorro, this "Princess Bride" character, played by Mandy Patinkin, is a passionate Spanish swordsman with an exaggerated accent and a penchant for waxing philosophical about romance. He works for Vizzini but is bent on revenge against the man that killed his father.
  6. Fezzik. Every adventure take also needs a lovable brute. The pro wrestler Andre The Giant plays this "Princess Bride" character. He works as hired muscle for Vizzini but proves to have a heart of gold and does anything for a friend in need. Though starting out as a semi-minor character, he becomes more important as the movie progresses.
  7. Miracle Max. Billy Crystal plays up the Jewish stereotypes for this "Princess Bride" character. Max is a disgruntled, sarcastic wizard of sorts that Humperdinck fired. Fezzik and Inigo go to him for help reviving Westley. He has all sorts of goofy healing techniques like inflating the lungs with fireplace bellows.
  8. Count Rugen. Mockumentary actor/director Christopher Guest plays this "Princess Bride" character. He is alternately known as the "Six-Fingered Man" and is the object of Inigo's obsession, having killed Inigo's father. Rugen is the typical sick and twisted second-in-command. With his creepy, even-toned voice, quaffed hairdo, pointy goatee and interest in pain, he cuts a devilish figure.
  9. The Albino. This "Princess Bride" character, played by Mel Smith, is the caretaker for "The Pit of Despair," Rugen's torture cave. Jowly and pasty, he looks like a sickly monk. His modern cockney accent provides a lot of the humor as he prepares Westley for torture. 
  10. The Impressive Clergyman. This "Princess Bride" character, played by Peter Cook, provides one of the most memorable scenes in the movie. Humperdinck orders a hasty wedding for him and Buttercup because he fears the return of Westley. The priest is long-winded but that's to be expected. But it's his speech impediment that's cause for laughter. For example, "Mawwage. Mawwage is what bwings us hew, togewer, today."

-Stephen Lloyd