Rob Reiner shares 'Princess Bride,' 'Stand By Me,' 'Spinal Tap' stories

Director says the fact his films have been enjoyed by multiple generations is "the biggest kick of all."
By Karen Butler  |  July 8, 2014 at 10:28 PM
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NEW YORK, July 8 (UPI) -- Filmmaker Rob Reiner says he wasn't aware he was making classics at the time he shot This is Spinal Tap, The Princess Bride, Stand By Me, When Harry Met Sally, A Few Good Men and The American President.

"You never, ever know. You just do what you do and then, if you are lucky, it lasts and that is kind of nice because you're going to be gone and, hopefully, somebody will watch them and maybe they'll get some pleasure out of it down the road. But you never know. You don't know. I just try to do what I think I like and, hopefully, somebody else likes them," Reiner told UPI in a round-table interview with reporters Tuesday.

So, how does he feel when fans tell him they grew up on his movies and have since watched them with their own children?

"That's the biggest kick of all. It really is," he declared. "The Princess Bride, for instance, is the perfect example. There are people who have come up to me that saw the film when they were 8 or 9 years old and now they have kids who are 8 or 9 years old and they are sharing that film with them. There is nothing greater. It's a great feeling." Told by another journalist that her dog is named Gordie after the main character in his film Stand By Me, Reiner replied: "Oh, my gosh, Gordie! That was an interesting process because [Wil Wheaton's character] Gordie, who was the main character in Stand By Me... There were four characters, the four boys, and the way it was written initially, it was like Gordie was kind of removed. He was just kind of an observer. He was the one who becomes the writer, but there was no emotional Gordie story so much. I tried to figure out... because the writing was so good and the short story was so great. But I needed to find a hook or my way into it. I can't tell stories unless I can figure my way into it. So, I said: 'OK, well, Gordie, his father is upset because his older brother died and, so, I'll tell you what. Maybe Gordie doesn't think his father loves him and the reason he is going to see this dead body is because he didn't cry at his brother's funeral and maybe he is holding in some things about how he feels with his dad and all of this stuff.' And then I brought that character out and made it the main character and then I could tell the story."

Reiner said Stephen King -- the author of "The Body," the short story on which Stand By Me was based -- was pleased with the change in direction he gave the coming-of-age tale, namely the conclusion where Gordie brandishes a gun and faces down a bunch of older bullies.

"He couldn't speak afterwards," Reiner recalled of first showing the film to King. "He walked away and came back a few minutes later and said: 'It is great. It is the best thing that's ever been done with my work, but that's not saying much.' He gave a little caveat. And then he said, 'You know, sometimes, you do something and then somebody else does something that you say, "I wish I had thought of it." And I wish I had thought of Gordie picking up that gun.' So, that made me feel really good that we had done that."

So, what is his preparation process like going into a film?

"It is different in each project," Reiner noted. "In Stand By Me, I had four kids who didn't have very much experience. So, I spent two weeks with them, essentially giving them acting classes. The first week, we just improvised and played theater games and, the second week, we worked on the script and the scenes. By the time we were ready to shoot, they'd become a well-oiled machine. Working with professionals with a lot of experience, you don't have to do a lot of that, so I approach each thing differently. Like Spinal Tap, it was all improvised. The whole thing was improvised. So, there is no prep work, really, for that, except for getting the sets for the scenes or getting the locations nailed down and making sure you have actors and, in this case, we had good actors, who were all schooled in improv, so that was comfortable for us." Reiner's new romantic comedy And So It Goes, starring Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton, is set to open nationwide July 25.

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