Cary Elwes

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Cary Elwes
Cary Elwes September 2015.jpg
Born Ivan Simon Cary Elwes
(1962-10-26) 26 October 1962 (age 53)
Westminster, London, England
Nationality English
Occupation Actor, author
Years active 1979–present
Spouse(s) Lisa Marie Kurbikoff (m. 2000)
Children 1
Parent(s) Dominick Elwes
Tessa Kennedy
Relatives Cassian Elwes (brother)
Damian Elwes (brother)

Cary Elwes (/ˈɛlwɪs/; born 26 October 1962),[1][2] is an English actor, screenwriter[3] and best-selling author[4] known for his roles in The Princess Bride; Glory; Robin Hood: Men in Tights; Days of Thunder; Bram Stoker's Dracula; Hot Shots!; Twister; Liar, Liar; and as Dr. Lawrence Gordon in Saw.[5] He has also had recurring roles in television series such as The X-Files and Psych. He currently stars in the Crackle series, The Art of More.

Early life[edit]

Elwes was born Ivan Simon Cary Elwes in Westminster, London. He is the youngest of three boys born to portrait-painter Dominic Elwes[6] and interior designer and socialite Tessa Kennedy. His brothers are Damian Elwes, an artist,[7] and Cassian Elwes, an independent film producer and the stepson of Elliott Kastner, an American film producer.[6] His paternal grandfather was painter Simon Elwes,[7] whose father was the diplomat and tenor Gervase Elwes (1866–1921).[8] His other great-grandfathers include the diplomat Rennell Rodd, 1st Baron Rennell, Sir John Macfarlane Kennedy, and Croatian industrialist Ivan Rikard Ivanović. Elwes' ancestry is English, Irish, Scottish, Serbo-Croatian Jewish (later Catholic converts),[9] the latter two through his maternal grandmother, Daška McLean, born Daška Marija Ivanović-Banac, whose second husband, Lieut.-Col. Billy McLean was an operative for Special Operations Executive during World War II.[10][11]

One of Elwes' ancestors is John Elwes, who is alleged in some sources to have been the inspiration for Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol (1843)[12] (Elwes played five roles in the 2009 film adaptation of the novel).[12] Through his maternal grandfather, he is also related to Sir Alexander "Blackie" William Kennedy one of the first photographers to document the archaeological site of Petra in Jordan following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.[13]

Elwes was brought up as a Roman Catholic and was an altar boy at Westminster Cathedral, although he did not attend denominational schools, unlike most of the men on his father's side of the family, including his own father.[14] His paternal forbears include such clerics as Dudley Charles Cary-Elwes (1868–1932), the Roman Catholic Bishop of Northampton (1921–32), as well as Abbott Columba Cary-Elwes (Ampleforth Abbey, Saint Louis Abbey), and Father Luke Cary-Elwes (Fort Augustus Abbey). He discussed some of this background in an interview while he was filming the 2005 CBS television film, Pope John Paul II, in which Elwes played the young priest Karol Wojtyła.

When he was four-years-old his parents divorced and in 1975, when Elwes was thirteen, his father committed suicide. For his education Elwes attended Harrow School[7] and then the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.[15] In 1981, he moved to the United States to study acting at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York.[16] While living there, Elwes studied acting at both the Actors Studio[16] and the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute under the tutelage of Al Pacino's mentor, Charlie Laughton (not to be confused with the British actor Charles Laughton).[15] 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 famous actor, Brando told him that his (Elwes') name was actually "Rocky" after Rocky Marciano.[17]



Elwes made his acting debut in 1984 with Marek Kanievska's film Another Country loosely based on the English boarding school exploits of British spies, Burgess, Philby and MacLean, in which he played James Harcourt, a homosexual student.[7] He went on to play Guilford Dudley in the British historical drama film Lady Jane, opposite Helena Bonham Carter. He was then cast as a stable boy turned swashbuckler Westley in Rob Reiner's fantasy-comedy The Princess Bride, based on the novel of the same name by William Goldman. It was a modest box office success,[18] but received critical acclaim, earning a score of 96% on the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes.[19] Since being released on home video and television, however, the film has become a cult classic.[18]

"Initially the studio didn't know how to market (The Princess Bride). Was it an adventure? A fantasy? A comedy? A romance? A kid's movie? In the end they sold it as a kid's movie and it largely had to rely on word of mouth ... (now) 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[20]

Elwes continued working steadily, varying between dramatic roles, as in the Academy Award-winning Glory (1989), and comedic roles, as in Hot Shots! (1991). In 1993, he starred as Robin Hood in Mel Brooks's comedy, Robin Hood: Men in Tights. Elwes also appeared in such films as Francis Coppola's adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula, The Crush, The Jungle Book (1994), Twister, Liar Liar, 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. And months after that he traveled to Luxembourg to work with John Malkovich and Willem Dafoe in Shadow of the Vampire. In 2001, he co-starred in Peter Bogdanovich's ensemble film The Cat's Meow portraying movie mogul Thomas Ince who died mysteriously while vacationing with William Randolph Hearst on his yacht.

In 2004, Elwes starred in the horrorthriller Saw which, at a budget of a little over $1 million, grossed over $100 million worldwide.[21] The same year he appeared in Ella Enchanted, this time as the villain, not the hero. 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 2010, he returned to the Saw franchise in Saw 3D (2010), the seventh and final film in the series, as Dr. Lawrence Gordon.[22] 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 romantic comedy New Year's Eve.

In 2012, Elwes starred in the independent drama The Citizen.[23] In 2013 Elwes joined Selena Gomez for the comedy ensemble, Behaving Badly directed by Tim Garrick. In 2014 he starred in John Herzfeld's ensemble comedy Reach Me. Last year he completed four movies: the ensemble drama, Sugar Mountain directed by Richard Gray; and the dramas H8RZ, directed by Derrick Borte, The Greens Are Gone, opposite Catherine Keener directed by Peer Pedersen, and Being Charlie which re-united Elwes with director Rob Reiner after twenty-eight years and premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.

In January 2016 Elwes completed portraying Andy Warhol opposite Kevin Spacey in The Billionaire Boys Club directed by James Cox.


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. Shortly afterward he received another Golden Satellite Award nomination for his work on the ensemble NBC Television movie 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 2004, he portrayed serial killer Ted Bundy in the A&E Network film The Riverman, which became one of the highest rated original movies in the network's history and garnered a prestigious BANFF Rockie Award nomination. The following year, Elwes played the young Pope John Paul II in the CBS television film Pope John Paul II, his second time working with Jon Voight. 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 (GBP588,200) in three days.[24]

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.[25] 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.[26] In 2014, Elwes played Hugh Ashmeade, Director of the CIA, in the second season of the BYUtv series, Granite Flats.

In May of 2015, Elwes was cast in Crackle's first streaming network series drama, The Art of More, which explores the cutthroat world of premium auction houses. Elwes plays Arthur Davenport, a shrewd and eccentric world-class collector illegal art and antiquities. The series debuted on November 19, has been picked up for a second season.[27] In November 2015, he was cast opposite Zoe Kazan and Peter Fonda in Lena Dunham's new HBO comedy pilot, Max. In the show about the struggles of second-wave feminism in sixties, Elwes plays Ken Reece, the editor of a women's magazine where Max (Kazan) works.[28]


Elwes' voice-over work includes the narrator in James Patterson's audiobook The Jester,[29] 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.[30] The following year Elwes portrayed the part of Gremlin Gus in Disney's video game, Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two. Over the last couple years, Elwes came in to play the voice of Aquaman in the DC Straight to DVD animated film Justice League: Flashpoint Paradox, and appeared most recently in an episode of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey as the voice of scientists Edmond Halley and Robert Hooke in the episode When Knowledge Conquered Fear in 2014.


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.[31]


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).[32]


In October 2014, Touchstone (Simon & Schuster) published Elwes' memoir of the making of The Princess Bride, entitled As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride, which Elwes co-wrote with Joe Layden. The book is filled with never-before-told stories, exclusive photographs, and interviews with co-stars Robin Wright, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, Fred Savage and Mandy Patinkin, as well as author and screenwriter William Goldman, producer Norman Lear, and director Rob Reiner. The book debuted on The New York Times Best Seller list.[33][34]

Other projects[edit]

On 13 December 2012, The Hollywood Reporter announced that Elwes would be making his directorial debut in an independent film about the life of Kit Lambert, manager of the iconic rock group The Who, working with a script by Pat Gilbert, an editor of the British music magazine Mojo.[35] The film is based on interviews and recordings with Lambert made by journalist Jon Lindsay, and is being produced by Orian Williams.

In 2014, it was announced that Kevin Spacey and Michael Shannon had signed on to portray Richard Nixon and Elvis Presley respectively in a feature film entitled Elvis & Nixon, written by Elwes with Hanala Sagal and Joey Sagal, about the pair's famous meeting at the White House in 1970.[3] The film, which was bought by Amazon as their first theatrical feature, will be released in April of 2016. [36]

Personal life[edit]

Elwes met stills photographer Lisa Marie Kurbikoff in 1991 at a Malibu chili cook-off and became engaged in 1997.[37] They married in 2000 and have one child.[38]

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 one percent of the producers' net profits of the film and did not receive the full amount.[39] The case eventually was settled out of court. In 2010, he reprised his role in Saw 3D.[40]


Year Title Role Notes
1979 Yesterday's Hero Disco Dancer
1984 Another Country James Harcourt
Oxford Blues Lionel
1985 Bride, TheThe Bride Capt. Josef Schoden
1986 Lady Jane Guilford Dudley
1987 Maschenka Ganin
Princess Bride, TheThe Princess Bride Westley/The Dread Pirate Roberts
1988 Never on Tuesday Tow Truck Driver Uncredited
1989 Glory Major Cabot Forbes
1990 Days of Thunder Russ Wheeler
1991 Hot Shots! Lieut. Kent Gregory
1992 Bram Stoker's Dracula Lord Arthur Holmwood
Porco Rosso Curtis Voice English version
Leather Jackets Dobbs
1993 Robin Hood: Men in Tights Robin Hood
Crush, TheThe Crush Nick Eliot
1994 Jungle Book, TheThe Jungle Book Capt. William Boone
Chase, TheThe Chase Steve Horsegroovy
1995 Whisper of the Heart Baron Humbert von Jikkingen Voice English version
1996 Twister Dr. Jonas Miller
1997 Kiss the Girls Detective Nick Ruskin Nominated – Blockbuster Entertainment Awards Best Supporting Actor
Informant, TheThe Informant Lieut. David Ferris
Liar Liar Jerry
1998 Quest for Camelot Garrett Voice
1999 Cradle Will Rock John Houseman
2000 Shadow of the Vampire Fritz Arno "Firtzy" Wagner
2001 Cat's Meow, TheThe Cat's Meow Thomas H. Ince
2002 Wish You Were Dead Mac "Macbeth" Wilson
The Cat Returns Baron Humbert von Gikkingen Voice English version
Comic Book Villains Carter
2004 Saw Dr. Lawrence Gordon Nominated – MTV Movie Award for Best Frightened Performance
Ella Enchanted Sir Edgar
The Riverman Ted Bundy
American Crime Albert Bodine
2005 Edison Force Reigert
Neo Ned Dr. Magnuson
National Lampoon's Pucked Norman
Saw II Dr. Lawrence Gordon Uncredited; Archive Sound
2006 Factory Girl Sam Green Uncredited
2007 Walk the Talk Erik
Georgia Rule Arnold
2008 Alphabet Killer, TheThe Alphabet Killer Capt. Kenneth Shine
2009 A Christmas Carol Portly Gentleman #1/Dick Wilkins/Mad Fiddler/Guest #2/Business Man No. 1
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. Metzner
Delhi Safari Bee Commander/Sultan Voice English version
The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn Pilot
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 Behaving Badly Joseph Stevens
Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox Orin/Arthur Curry/Aquaman Voice
2014 Reach Me Kersey
2015 A Mouse Tale Sir Thaddeus Voice English version
H8RZ Principal Donato
Sugar Mountain Jim Huxley Post-production
Being Charlie David Mills Post-production
The Greens Are Gone Frank Harper Post-production
2016 Billionaire Boys Club Andy Warhol Post-production
Year Title Role Notes
1996 Seinfeld David Lookner Episode: "The Wait Out"
1998 Pentagon Wars, TheThe Pentagon Wars Lt. Col. James Burton HBO television film
From the Earth to the Moon Michael Collins Episodes:
"Can We Do This"
"Mare Tranquilitatis"
Pinky and the Brain Director/Hamlet Voice
"Brainie the Poo/Melancholy Brain"
"Whatever Happened to Baby Brain/Just Say Narf"
Hercules Paris of Troy Voice
Episode: "Hercules and the Trojan War"
1999 Outer Limits, TheThe Outer Limits Dr. John York Episode: "Ripper"
Batman Beyond Paxton Powers Episode: "Ascension"
2000 Race Against Time Burke Television film
2001 Night Visions Gerald Episode: "Quiet Please"
Uprising Dr. Fritz Hippler Television film
2001–2002 X-Files, TheThe X-Files FBI Assistant Director Brad Follmer Episodes:
"Nothing Important Happened Today"
"Nothing Important Happened Today II"
2004 Riverman, TheThe Riverman Ted Bundy Television film
2005 Pope John Paul II Young Karol Wojtyla TV mini-series
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 Episodes:
"Extradition: British Columbia"
"Extradition II: The Actual Extradition Part"
"Indiana Shawn and the Temple of the Kinda Crappy, Rusty Old Dagger"
"Lock, Stock, Some Smoking Barrels and Burton Guster's Goblet of Fire"
2011 Wonder Woman Henry Detmer Pilot episode (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 Episodes:
"Put Away Childish Things"
"The Stories We Tell......"
"Cor Unum, Corambis"
"Project Madman"
Family Guy Dr. Watson Voice
"Secondhand Spoke"
"Chap Stewie"
2015 The Art of More Arthur Davenport Main Role
Max Ken Reece Recurring



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  34. ^ 'Cary Elwes wrote book about the making of the film, The Princess Bride,, June 2014; accessed 18 November 2014.
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  37. ^ "Celebrities – DeGeneres 'Bedding' Talk-Show Guests". Watertown Daily Times: D2. 3 May 2007. Elwes and Lisa Marie (née Kurbikoff) met in 1991 at a Malibu chili cook-off. They were engaged in 1997 and tied the knot three years later. 
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