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SYFY WIRE The Princess Bride

The Princess Bride's Mandy Patinkin shares emotional motivation behind Inigo Montoya's revenge

By Benjamin Bullard
Mandy Patinkin

Ever since its 1987 release, The Princess Bride has been the family fantasy gift that keeps on giving, with generations of new fans continually discovering the movie’s giant-sized treasure trove of irresistible one-liners.

From “to the pain” to “as you wish,” director Rob Reiner’s iconic film served up so many great quotes that even longtime fans still find it tough to keep track of them all. But thanks to one new behind-the-scenes insight from star Mandy Patinkin, one of the movie’s most quotable lines now has an emotional real-life backstory that’s guaranteed to deepen the meaning of Inigo Montoya’s go-to “you killed my father” phrase.

Responding to a fan on TikTok, Patinkin confirmed that previous internet talk about having a personal connection to his movie character’s most famous line is very real. As the questing partner of Dread Pirate Westley (Cary Elwes), Montoya moves through the film in search of the evil six-fingered man (Christopher Guest) — an elusive killer who’s responsible for the long-ago death of Montoya's father. Fantasizing about what he’ll say when he finally gets his revenge, Montoya serves up a line that remains among the film's most oft-quoted:

“Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”

Of course, The Princess Bride satisfyingly gives Inigo his chance to finally deliver those words straight to the six-fingered man’s face. But it’s his devastating climactic followup — “I want my father back, you son of a bitch” — that strikes at the heart of Patinkin’s own personal connection with loss. Responding to TikTok user @alaska_webb, who had previously shared what the scene meant to her after losing her dad to cancer, Patinkin said that the loss of his own father to cancer played a key role in summoning the real emotion that went into his on-screen performance.

“First of all, your dad is taking care of you,” Patinkin said. “Secondly, it is true — a hundred percent true. I went outside in this castle, and walked around, and I kept talking to my dad. And I said, ‘Dad, I’m gonna get this guy.’ From the minute I read the script, I knew. I said to Kath [Patinkin’s wife]: I said, ‘I’m gonna do this part, because in my mind, if I get this six-fingered guy, that means I killed the cancer that killed my dad and I’ll get to visit my dad.’”

That was about as far as Patinkin could get without choking up, but he went on to say that he nailed the scene — and also did get a sense of personal reconciliation. “I went and I played that scene with Chris, and then I went back out there and talked to my dad. So you can talk to your dad any time you want, anywhere you want.”

It’s a fitting anecdote for a film that leans heavily into the idea that fairy tales have something to say about real life. By the end of the movie, Peter Falk’s grandfather eventually has his bedtime story-averse grandson (Fred Savage) practically begging to hear more. And thanks to Patinkin’s emotional backstory, we’re surer than ever that fairy tale stories can go deep indeed — no matter how much of a grownup you are.