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Cary Elwes

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Cary Elwes
Elwes in 2015
Ivan Simon Cary Elwes

(1962-10-26) 26 October 1962 (age 61)
Alma materSarah Lawrence College
Years active1979–present
Lisa Marie Kurbikoff
(m. 2000)
Parent(s)Dominick Elwes
Tessa Kennedy
RelativesCassian Elwes (brother)
Damian Elwes (brother)

Ivan Simon Cary Elwes (/ˈɛlwɪs/; born 26 October 1962)[1][2] is an English actor. He is best known for his lead role as Westley in The Princess Bride (1987),[3] as well as for roles in films such as Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993) and the Saw series.[4]

Elwes' other performances in films include Glory (1989), Days of Thunder (1990), Hot Shots! (1991), Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992), Twister (1996), Kiss the Girls (1997), Liar Liar (1997), Shadow of the Vampire (2000), The Cat's Meow (2001), Ella Enchanted (2004), Pope John Paul II (2005), No Strings Attached (2011),[5] BlackBerry (2023), and Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One (2023).

He has appeared on television in a number of series including The X-Files, Seinfeld, From the Earth to the Moon, Psych, and Life in Pieces. In 2019, he appeared in the Netflix drama series Stranger Things, the Amazon Prime comedy series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and in 2024, he appeared in the Paramount+ comedy series Knuckles.[6][7] Elwes has written a memoir of his time working on The Princess Bride called As You Wish, which was published in 2014.[8]

Early life and education[edit]

The arms of the Elwes family[9]

Ivan Simon Cary Elwes was born on 26 October 1962 in Westminster, London. He is the youngest of three sons of portrait painter Dominic Elwes[10] and Tessa Kennedy, an interior designer and socialite. Cary is the brother of artist Damian Elwes[11] and film producers Cassian Elwes and Milica Kastner. Cary's stepfather, Elliott Kastner, was an American film producer and the first American to set up independent film production in the United Kingdom.[10] Cary's paternal grandfather was the portrait painter Simon Elwes,[11] whose own father was the diplomat and tenor Gervase Elwes (1866–1921).[12] One of Cary's great-grandfathers was the 1st Baron Rennell, while one of his great-great-grandfathers was the 8th Earl of Denbigh. Cary has English, Irish, Scottish, Croatian-Jewish, and Serbian ancestry,[13] the latter two from his maternal grandmother, Daška McLean, whose second husband, Billy McLean, was an operative for the Special Operations Executive during the Second World War.[14][15]

One of Cary Elwes' relatives is John Elwes, a British miser who was the inspiration for Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol (1843), having been referenced by Charles Dickens himself in chapter six of his last completed novel, Our Mutual Friend.[16][17] Elwes himself played five roles in the 2009 film adaptation of A Christmas Carol. Through his maternal grandfather, Elwes is also related to Sir Alexander William "Blackie" Kennedy, one of the first photographers to document the archaeological site of Petra following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.[18]

Elwes was brought up as a Catholic and was an altar boy at Westminster Cathedral.[19] His paternal relatives include such clerics as Dudley Charles Cary-Elwes (1868–1932), the Bishop of Northampton, and Abbot Columba Cary-Elwes (Ampleforth Abbey, Saint Louis Abbey). He discussed this in an interview while he was filming the 2005 CBS television film Pope John Paul II, in which he played the young priest Karol Wojtyła.[20]

Elwes's parents divorced when he was four years old. In 1975, when Elwes was 13, his father died by suicide.[21] He was educated at Harrow School,[11] and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.[22] In 1981, he moved to the United States to study acting at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York.[23] While living there, Elwes studied acting at both the Actors Studio[23] and the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute under the tutelage of Al Pacino's mentor, Charlie Laughton (not to be confused with English actor Charles Laughton).[22] As a teenager, he also worked as a production assistant on the films Absolution, Octopussy, and Superman, where he was assigned to Marlon Brando. When Elwes introduced himself to the actor, Brando insisted on calling him "Rocky" after Rocky Marciano.[24]



Props from the film The Princess Bride (1987)

Elwes made his acting debut in 1984 with Marek Kanievska's film Another Country, which was loosely based on the English boarding school exploits of British spies Burgess, Philby and MacLean. He played James Harcourt, a gay student.[11] He then played Guilford Dudley in the British historical drama film Lady Jane, opposite Helena Bonham Carter. He was cast as stable-boy-turned-swashbuckler Westley in Rob Reiner's fantasy-comedy The Princess Bride (1987), which was based on the novel of the same name by William Goldman. It was a modest box office success,[25] but received critical acclaim. As a result of years of reviews, it earned a score of 97% on the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes.[26] Since being released on home video and television, the film has become a cult classic.[25]

Initially the studio didn't know how to market it. Was it an adventure? A fantasy? A comedy? A romance? A kids' movie? In the end they sold it as a kids' movie and it largely had to rely on word of mouth ... people tell me they still have their VHS copy that has been passed down from one generation to the next.

— Interview from the film's DVD release in 2001[27]

Elwes continued to work steadily, varying between dramatic roles, such as in the Oscar-winning Glory (1989) and comedic roles, as in Hot Shots! (1991). He played a rival driver to Tom Cruise in Days of Thunder (1990). In 1993, he starred as Robin Hood in Mel Brooks's comedy Robin Hood: Men in Tights. Elwes then appeared in supporting roles in such films as Francis Ford Coppola's adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992), The Crush (1993), The Jungle Book (1994), Twister (1996), Liar Liar (1997), and Kiss the Girls. In 1999, he portrayed famed theatre and film producer John Houseman for Tim Robbins in his ensemble film based on Orson Welles's musical, Cradle Will Rock. Following that, he travelled to Luxembourg to work with John Malkovich and Willem Dafoe in Shadow of the Vampire.

Elwes made his first television appearance in 1996 as David Lookner on Seinfeld. Two years later he played astronaut Michael Collins in the Golden Globe Award-winning HBO miniseries From the Earth To the Moon. The following year Elwes was nominated for a Golden Satellite Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television for his portrayal of Colonel James Burton in The Pentagon Wars directed by Richard Benjamin. In 1999, he guest starred as Dr. John York in an episode of the television series The Outer Limits.


Elwes in 2010

In 2001, he co-starred in Peter Bogdanovich's ensemble film The Cat's Meow portraying film mogul Thomas Ince, who died mysteriously while vacationing with William Randolph Hearst on his yacht. Shortly afterward Elwes received another Golden Satellite Award nomination for his work on the ensemble NBC Television film Uprising opposite Jon Voight directed by Jon Avnet. Elwes had a recurring role in the final season (from 2001 to 2002) of Chris Carter's hit series The X-Files as FBI Assistant Director Brad Follmer. In 2003 Elwes portrayed Kerry Max Cook in the off-Broadway play The Exonerated in New York, directed by Bob Balaban (18–23 March 2003).[28]

In 2004, Elwes starred in the horrorthriller Saw which, at a budget of a little over $1 million, grossed over $100 million worldwide.[29] The same year he appeared in Ella Enchanted, this time as the villain, not the hero. Also in 2004, he portrayed serial killer Ted Bundy in the A&E Network film The Riverman, which became one of the highest rated original films in the network's history and garnered a prestigious BANFF Rockie Award nomination. The following year, Elwes played the young Karol Wojtyła in the CBS television film Pope John Paul II. The TV film was highly successful not only in North America but also in Europe, where it broke box office records in the late Pope's native Poland and became the first film ever to break $1 million in three days.[30] He made an uncredited appearance as Sam Green, the man who introduced Andy Warhol to Edie Sedgwick, in the 2006 film Factory Girl. In 2007, he appeared in Garry Marshall's Georgia Rule opposite Jane Fonda.

In 2007, he made a guest appearance on the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode "Dependent" as a Mafia lawyer. In 2009, he played the role of Pierre Despereaux, an international art thief, in the fourth-season premiere of Psych.[31] Also in 2009 Elwes joined the cast of Robert Zemeckis's motion capture adaptation of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol portraying five roles. That same year he was chosen by Steven Spielberg to appear in his motion capture adaptation of Belgian artist Hergé's popular comic strip The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn.[32] Elwes's voice-over work includes the narrator in James Patterson's audiobook The Jester,[33] as well as characters in film and television animations such as Quest for Camelot, Pinky and The Brain, Batman Beyond, and the English versions of the Studio Ghibli films, Porco Rosso, Whisper of the Heart and The Cat Returns. For the 2004 video game The Bard's Tale, he served as screenwriter, improviser, and voice actor of the main character The Bard. In 2009, Elwes reunited with Jason Alexander for the Indian film, Delhi Safari.[34] The following year Elwes portrayed the part of Gremlin Gus in Disney's video game, Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two. In 2014, he appeared in Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey as the voice of scientists Edmond Halley and Robert Hooke.


Elwes at Comic-Con in 2013

In 2010, he returned to the Saw franchise in Saw 3D (2010), the seventh film in the series, as Dr. Lawrence Gordon.[35] In 2010, he returned to Psych, reprising his role in the second half of the fifth season, again in the show's sixth season, and again in the show's eighth season premiere.[36] In 2014, Elwes played Hugh Ashmeade, Director of the CIA, in the second season of the BYUtv series Granite Flats. In 2011, he was selected by Ivan Reitman to star alongside Natalie Portman in No Strings Attached. That same year, Elwes and Garry Marshall teamed up again in the ensemble romantic comedy New Year's Eve opposite Robert de Niro and Halle Berry.

In 2012, Elwes starred in the independent drama The Citizen.[37] and the following year Elwes joined Selena Gomez for the comedy ensemble, Behaving Badly directed by Tim Garrick. In 2015, he completed Sugar Mountain directed by Richard Gray; the drama We Don't Belong Here, opposite Anton Yelchin and Catherine Keener directed by Peer Pedersen, and Being Charlie which reunited Elwes with director Rob Reiner after 28 years and premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. In 2016, Elwes starred opposite Penelope Cruz in Fernando Trueba's Spanish-language period pic The Queen of Spain, a sequel to Trueba's 1998 drama The Girl of Your Dreams. This also re-united Elwes with his Princess Bride co-star, Mandy Patinkin.[38]

Elwes at the Phoenix Comicon in 2014

In October 2014 Touchstone (Simon & Schuster) published Elwes's memoir of the making of The Princess Bride, entitled As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride, which he co-wrote with Joe Layden. The book featured never-before-told stories, exclusive behind-the-scenes photographs, and interviews with co-stars Robin Wright, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, Fred Savage and Mandy Patinkin, as well as screenwriter William Goldman, producer Norman Lear, and director Rob Reiner. The book debuted on The New York Times Best Seller list.[39][40]

In 2014, Elwes co-wrote the screenplay for a film entitled Elvis & Nixon, about the pair's famous meeting at the White House in 1970.[41] The film starred Michael Shannon and Kevin Spacey; it was bought by Amazon as their first theatrical feature and released on 22 April 2016.[42] In May 2015, Elwes was cast as Arthur Davenport, a shrewd and eccentric world-class collector of illegal art and antiquities in Crackle's first streaming network series drama, The Art of More, which explored the cutthroat world of premium auction houses. The series debuted on 19 November and was picked up for a second season.[43]

In April 2018 Elwes portrayed Larry Kline, mayor of Hawkins, for the third season of the Netflix series Stranger Things, which premiered in July 2019.[44] He was nominated along with the cast for the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series. In May 2019, he joined the third season of the Amazon series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel as Gavin Hawk.[45]

Personal life[edit]

Elwes met photographer Lisa Marie Kurbikoff in 1991 at a chili cook-off in Malibu, California; they were engaged in 1997.[46] They married in 2000 and have one daughter.[47]

In March 2021, Elwes posted on his social media accounts that his younger half-sister Milica had died after battling Stage 4 cancer for more than a year.[48]

Elwes is known for his feud with Republican Texas Senator and Princess Bride fan Ted Cruz.[49][50] According to the Hollywood Reporter, Elwes initiated the 2020 fundraiser that re-united many Princess Bride cast members to support Joe Biden in the battleground state of Wisconsin.[51][52] The Princess Bride Reunion raised more than $4 million for Wisconsin Democrats.[53]


In August 2005, Elwes filed a lawsuit against Evolution Entertainment, his management firm and producer of Saw. Elwes said he was promised a minimum of 1% of the producers' net profits of the film and did not receive the full amount.[54] The case was settled out of court. Elwes returned to the series in 2010 reprising his role in Saw 3D.[55]


Denotes projects that have not yet been released


List of film and roles
Year Title Role Notes
1979 Yesterday's Hero Disco Dancer
1984 Another Country James Harcourt
Oxford Blues Lionel
1985 The Bride Capt. Josef Schoden
1986 Lady Jane Guilford Dudley
1987 Maschenka Lev Glebovich Ganin
The Princess Bride Westley / Dread Pirate Roberts / The Man in Black
1989 Never on Tuesday Tow Truck Driver Uncredited
Glory Maj. Cabot Forbes
1990 Days of Thunder Russ Wheeler
1991 Hot Shots! Lt. Kent Gregory
1992 Bram Stoker's Dracula Lord Arthur Holmwood
Leather Jackets Dobbs Also associate producer
1993 Robin Hood: Men in Tights Robin Hood
The Crush Nick Eliot
1994 The Jungle Book Capt. William Boone
The Chase Steve Horsegroovy
1996 Twister Dr. Jonas Miller
1997 Kiss the Girls Det. Nick Ruskin
The Informant Lt. David Ferris
Liar Liar Jerry
1998 Quest for Camelot Garrett Voice[56]
1998 The Pentagon Wars Col. James G. Burton
1999 Cradle Will Rock John Houseman
2000 Shadow of the Vampire Fritz Arno "Fritzy" Wagner
2001 The Cat's Meow Thomas H. Ince
2002 Wish You Were Dead Mac "Macbeth" Wilson
Comic Book Villains Carter Also co-producer
2003 Porco Rosso Donald Curtis Voice; English dub
2004 Saw Dr. Lawrence Gordon
Ella Enchanted Sir Edgar
The Riverman Ted Bundy
American Crime Albert Bodine
2005 Edison Force District Attorney Jack Reigert
Neo Ned Dr. Magnuson
National Lampoon's Pucked Norman
The Cat Returns Baron Humbert von Gikkingen Voice; English dub[56]
2006 Factory Girl Sam Green Uncredited
Whisper of the Heart Baron Humbert von Gikkingen Voice; English dub
2007 Walk the Talk Erik Also executive producer
Georgia Rule Arnold
2008 The Alphabet Killer Capt. Kenneth Shine
2009 A Christmas Carol Portly Gentleman, Guest #2, Businessman #1 Voice and motion-capture[56]
2010 Psych 9 Dr. Clement
Flying Lessons Steven Jennings
As Good as Dead Ethan Belfrage
Little Murder Barry Fitzgerald
Saw 3D Dr. Lawrence Gordon
2011 No Strings Attached Dr. Steven Metzner
Delhi Safari Bee Commander / Sultan Voice[56]
The Adventures of Tintin Seaplane Pilot Voice and motion-capture
New Year's Eve Stan's Doctor
The Story of Luke Uncle Paul
Camilla Dickinson Rafferty Dickinson
Hellgate Jeff Mathews
2012 The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure Bobby Wobbly
The Citizen Earl Miller
2013 Hansel & Gretel Get Baked Meter Man
Behaving Badly Joseph Stevens
Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox Aquaman Voice[56]
Armed Response Joshua
2014 A Bit of Bad Luck Brooks
Reach Me Kersey
2015 A Mouse Tale Sir Thaddeus Voice[56]
H8RZ Principal Donato
Being Charlie David Mills
A Haunting in Cawdor Lawrence O'Neil
2016 Lost & Found John Broman
Sugar Mountain Jim Huxley
Elvis & Nixon Writer and producer
Indiscretion Jake
The Elephant Kingdom Rock Voice
Beyond Beyond Jonah's Father Voice[56]
The Queen of Spain Gary Jones
2017 We Don't Belong Here Frank Harper
Don't Sleep Dr. Richard Sommers
2018 Billionaire Boys Club Andy Warhol
Ghost Light Alex Pankhurst
2019 Black Christmas Professor Gelson
2021 Best Sellers Halpren Nolan
The Unholy Bishop Gyles
Last Train to Christmas Roger Towers
A Castle for Christmas Myles, the Duke of Dunbar
Burning at Both Ends Jacques Christoffersen Entitled Resistance: 1942 in some territories
2022 The Hyperions Professor Ruckus Mandulbaum
2023 Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre Nathan Jasmine
BlackBerry Carl Yankowski
Sweetwater Ned Irish[57]
Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One Denlinger [58]
Rebel Moon The King [59]
2024 Rebel Moon – Part Two: The Scargiver [60]
The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare Brigadier Colin Gubbins [61]


List of television appearances and roles
Year Title Role Notes
1996 Seinfeld David Lukner Episode: "The Wait Out"
1998 The Pentagon Wars Lt. Col. James Burton Television film
From the Earth to the Moon Michael Collins 3 episodes
Pinky and the Brain Director, Hamlet Voice, 2 episodes[56]
Hercules Paris of Troy Voice, episode: "Hercules and the Trojan War"
1999 The Outer Limits Dr. John York Episode: "Ripper"
Batman Beyond Paxton Powers Voice, episode: "Ascension"[56]
2000 Race Against Time Burke Television film
2001 Night Visions Gerald Episode: "Quiet Please"
Uprising Fritz Hippler Television film
2001–2002 The X-Files FBI Assistant Director Brad Follmer 6 episodes
2004 The Riverman Ted Bundy Television film
2005 Pope John Paul II Young Karol Wojtyla Television film
2006 Haskett's Chance Mark Haskett / Chris Dalness Television film
2007 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Sidney Truex Episode: "Dependent"
2009–2014 Psych Pierre Despereaux 4 episodes
2011 Wonder Woman Henry Detmer Unsold pilot
2012 Leverage Scott Roemer Episode: "The (Very) Big Bird Job"
Perception British Intelligence Officer Episode: "Cipher"
2013 The Anna Nicole Story E. Pierce Marshall Television film
2014 Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey Edmond Halley, Robert Hooke Voice, episode: "When Knowledge Conquered Fear"
Granite Flats Hugh Ashmead 4 episodes
2014–2016 Family Guy Himself, Dr. Watson, additional voices 6 episodes
2015–2016 The Art of More Arthur Davenport 20 episodes
Sofia the First Prince Roderick, Basil Voice, 2 episodes[56]
2016–2017 Life in Pieces Professor Sinclair Wilde 4 episodes
2017 Workaholics Fox Episode: "The Most Dangerless Game"
2018 Youth & Consequences Joel Cutney 3 episodes
André the Giant Himself HBO documentary
The Adventures of Puss in Boots Guy Fox Voice, episode: "Like a Fox"[56]
2019 Stranger Things Mayor Larry Kline 5 episodes
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Gavin Hawk 4 episodes
2020 Katy Keene Leo Lacy Episode: "Chapter Thirteen: Come Together"
Home Movie: The Princess Bride Westley, Humperdinck Episode: "Chapter Ten: To the Pain!"
2024 Knuckles "Pistol" Pete Whipple 2 episodes[62]

Video games[edit]

List of video game voice roles
Year Title Role Notes Publisher
2004 The Bard's Tale[63] The Bard[64] Voice inXile Entertainment
2007 Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End Black Bart Voice Disney Interactive Studios
2012 Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two Gremlin Gus Voice Disney Interactive Studios

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Association Category Project Result Ref.
1997 Blockbuster Entertainment Awards Best Supporting Actor Kiss the Girls Nominated
2004 MTV Movie Award Best Frightened Performance Saw Nominated
2019 Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Ensemble in a Drama Series Stranger Things Nominated [65]
2023 Fargo Film Festival Ted M. Larson Award Won [66]


  • Elwes, Cary; Layden, Joe (2014). As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride. New York: Touchstone. ISBN 9781476764023. OCLC 878812649.


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  48. ^ Elwes, Cary [@caryelwes] (15 March 2021). "My dear sweet Milica. I dislike having to write this about you as it puts the finality on something I have been dreading to accept, which is that you are gone. What can I share about my extraordinary sister in this short space? First and foremost, she had an enormous capacity to care for others over herself. A rare quality of inclusion which makes this loss even more insurmountable. Even whilst suffering she would not want to talk about her day, but about yours. And that conversation would usually end with a few good laughs. In fact, having a good laugh was really important to Mil and that laugh was totally infectious. She was able to laugh as much at death as she was at life. Truly a force to contend with. A candle that burned ever so brightly. I would watch people who met her for the first time and stand back trying to not to smile as I watched them realize this woman was completely without pretense. No filter at all. But in a good way. Looking for the good in people and then making sure to make friends with them. I have met many of the Angels who have surrounded her from the start of their friendship and never left her at the end. To all of you, too many to mention here, I thank you from my completely shattered heart. And to all of you who have shared your outpouring of support to me and my family at this difficult time, we are truly grateful. My North Star will forever twinkle tears in memory of you, Milica. God speed, sweet angel 💔😥🙏" – via Instagram.
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