'A fundraiser of unusual size': Princess Bride reunion raises $4.25 million for Wisconsin Democrats

Mary Spicuzza
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Clockwise from top left: Robin Wright, Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin and Chris Sarandon reunited for a reading of "The Princess Bride" benefiting Wisconsin Democrats.

It was a fundraiser of unusual size.

When almost the entire original cast of "The Princess Bride" came together this week for the first time in more than 30 years for a table read of the classic 1987 film, it drew overwhelming interest — with more than 110,000 people tuning in to watch.

The virtual Sunday night event also brought in $4.25 million for Wisconsin Democrats.

"This is a Fundraiser of Unusual Size," said Ben Wikler, chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, a reference to the Rodents Of Unusual Size, giant rat-like creatures from the movie.

Wikler, a long-time Princess Bride fan who reportedly once convinced his grade school teacher to hold a screening of the film, said it will be tough to beat the unusual Princess Bride fundraiser.

"As someone who committed the whole script of 'The Princess Bride' to memory as a child, there's nothing on Earth that could top this," he said. "But the most important sequel is a Democratic victory in November."

Actor Cary Elwes, who played Westley in the film, dropped the $4.25 million figure Thursday morning during an interview on "Morning Joe."

Elwes also played a key role in organizing the fundraiser. During the event, Elwes said he called his friend Sarah Uphoff, a Wisconsin native, to see what he could do to help.

"I know how important Wisconsin is to this election, and I called and said, 'What can we do? We need to win the state,’ " Elwes said during the event. "And she said, 'Well, what about getting the old band back together? You know, the Princess Bride guys."

Elwes added, "And I said, 'Well, I'll try it's a long shot, I'll give it a try.’ "

He and director Rob Reiner said they were both surprised that nearly the entire cast was eager to participate.

Those who joined the script reading included Elwes, Robin Wright, Carol Kane, Chris Sarandon, Mandy Patinkin, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal and Christopher Guest reprising their original characters, as well as Reiner playing the grandfather reading a story to his sick grandson.

"Everybody jumped in right away. Everybody realizes how critical this election is," Reiner said. "This actually is the most important election in the history of the country. ... We have democracy hanging by a thread."

Reiner added, "We know that it's coming down to six to eight states, Wisconsin being probably the most critical state of all. And we feel if we can win Wisconsin, we're gonna win the White House."

After the event, Elwes stressed the importance of the election — and Wisconsin's role in it.

"It is now more clear than ever that we have to prevent President Trump's re-election if we want to have any hope of keeping Americans safe and put this country back on track. And that effort begins and ends with Wisconsin," Elwes said in a statement. "I am naturally delighted that the live read of The Princess Bride which reunited my colleagues from that film helped raise record funds to help win that state."

Contact Mary Spicuzza at (414) 224-2324 or mary.spicuzza@jrn.com. Follow her on Twitter at @MSpicuzzaMJS.