“I like historical pieces. History was my favorite subject in school, it was the
only subject I excelled in. I love the idea of history and the idea that we may
have the opportunity to learn from our past mistakes.” Cary Elwes
Tall and debonair, British-born actor Cary Elwes commonly has been at his most
engaging in heroic roles but in the mid-1990s diversified to playing the
occasional villain with equal success. Initially garnering attention in the
English period drama Lady Jane (1986), Elwes became famous as Westley, the
heroic wooer of The Princess Bride (1987) for director Rob Reiner. He is also
best-known for playing roles in Mel Brooks’ zany spoof Robin Hood: Men In Tights
(1993) and the blockbuster horror/thriller Saw (2004).
The versatile performer has performed in Twister (1996), Liar Liar (1997), Kiss
the Girls (1997), Cradle Will Rock (1999), Shadow of the Vampire (2000), The
Cat’s Meow (2001) and Ella Enchanted (2004).
On the small screen, Elwes is known for his award-nominating performances in
television films The Pentagon Wars (1998) and Uprising (2001). Additionally, he
offered a remarkable guest performance in the popular NBC sitcom “Seinfeld”
(1996), and is remembered for his recurring role in “The X-Files” (2000-2001).
Recently appearing with Estella Warren and Jon Bon Jovi in the indie comedy
National Lampoon’s The Trouble with Frank (2006), Elwes is set to star in the
comedies Walk the Talk (2006), Haskett’s Chance (2006, TV), Complete History of
the Breast (2006) and drama films Sakura: Blue-Eyed Samurai (2006) and Georgia
In August 2005, Elwes filed a lawsuit against his management firm and the
producers of Saw. He claimed that he was guaranteed “a minimum of one percent of
the producers’ net profits,” but he did not get the full amount as promised.
On a more personal note, the 5’ 11” tall, blue-eyed player, who is the stepson
of Hollywood executive Elliott Kastner, has been married to photographer-fiancé
Lisa Marie Kurbikoff since 2001.
Childhood and Family:
In London, England, Ivan Simon Cary Elwes, who would later be famous as Cary
Elwes, was born on October 26, 1962 to portrait painter Dominic Elwes (committed
suicide in 1975) and interior designer Tessa Kennedy. As a teenager, his mother,
who is of Serbo-Croatian and Anglo-Irish extraction, ran off with Cary’s father
to a great scandal. She later married Jewish-American Hollywood executive
Elliott Kastner, and they have a daughter named Milica Kastner. Cary has two
older brothers, Cassian Elwes (movie producer) and Damian Elwes (artist).
Growing up between his mother in London and his father in Spain, Cary was
educated in Harrow School in England, before moving to the United States in
early 1980s to attend Sarah Lawrence College in Yonkers, New York. There, he
studied German Expressionist Film, in addition to other acting-related subjects.
In 2001, Cary married photographer Lisa Marie Kurbikoff (born in 1991). He met
his wife for the first time in 1991, and they became engaged six years later, on
December 12, 1997.
Cary Elwes made his first public appearance at age six in a stage production of
“Robin Hood,” and made the move to the big screen as a teenager with a bit part
as a disco dancer in the British drama Yesterday’s Hero (1979), before moving to
New York in early 1980s, where he debuted on Off-Broadway with a 1981 production
of “Equus” at the Greengate Theatre and made TV film debut in the uncredited
part of first Air Force Officer in the sci-fi film The Day After (1983).
Elwes’ first major part, however, arrived with the English drama movie Another
Country (1984), in which he was cast as the intimate of an upcoming secret agent
James Harcourt, opposite fellow good-looking young actors Colin Firth and Rupert
Everett. He immediately began a pattern of performing in historical dramas and
other period pieces, and gained notice with his romantic turn as an aristocratic
juvenile along side Helena Bonham Carter in the English period drama Lady Jane
(1986) for director Trevor Nunn. But, Elwes did not formulate his worldwide film
breakthrough until 1987 with Rob Reiner’s touching ode to fairy tales The
Princess Bride, where he memorably starred as the farm boy-turned-swaggering
hero Westley. The same year, he starred with Irina Brook in Maschenka (1987),
derived from the book by Vladimir Nabokov.
Persisting with historical movies, Elwes proved valuable as Matthew Broderick’s
second-in-command in the Civil War drama Glory (1989), and then showed his
versatility with his comedic turn as Charlie Sheen’s romantic foe in Hot Shots!
(1991), the Jim Abrahams ‘Top Gun’ spoof. In between, he was seen as a racer
arch-rival to Tom Cruise in Days of Thunder (1990). Elwes transformed to darker
themes with roles in Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992, played
Lord Arthur Holmwood) and the thriller The Crush (1993), where he played an
older journalist who becomes the object of obsession of his landlord’s daughter
(played by Alicia Silverstone). Still in 1993, he once again tested the waters
of broad comedy again with Mel Brooks’ zany parody Robin Hood: Men In Tights.
He then had a cameo role in the Charlie Sheen vehicle The Chase (1994), where
his brother Cassian served as a producer, portrayed a crooked British officer
named William Boone in the remake of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book (1994),
and played influence figures in the thrillers Twister (1996, as Bill Paxton’s
corporate-sponsored rival) and Kiss the Girls (1997), in which he was nominated
for a Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Favorite Supporting Actor in Suspense
with his role as a detective looking for a kidnapper. He also appeared with Jim
Carrey in the popular comedy Liar Liar (1997), provided the voice of blind hero
Garrett in the animated feature Quest for Camelot (1998), before offering a fine
portrayal of portly producer John Houseman in writer/director Tim Robbins’
period drama Cradle Will Rock (1999).
Meanwhile, Elwes, who once declared as saying he preferred not to work in
television, made his first forays into the small screen with a notable guest
appearance as a guy whose wife splits up with him in an episode of the hit NBC
sitcom “Seinfeld” in 1996. Subsequently, he costarred as Lt. Col. James Burton
in the HBO film The Pentagon Wars (1998, earned a Golden Satellite nomination
for Best Performance by an Actor), played Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins in
the Tom Hanks-produced HBO miniseries “From the Earth to the Moon” (also 1998)
and voiced Paxton Powers in an episode of animated series “Batman Beyond”
A starring role opposite Eric Roberts in the action made-for-television film
Race Against Time (2000) and supporting part as German cinematographer Fritz
Arno Wagner in Shadow of the Vampire (2000), starring John Malkovich, are Elwes’
opening projects in the new millennium. He continued with roles in Peter
Bogdanovich’s drama The Cat’s Meow (2001, as ground-breaking producer Thomas H.
Ince), Uprising (2001, TV, received a Golden Satellite nod for Best Performance
by an Actor) and Wish You Were Dead (2002). From 2001to 2002, Elwes also was
cast in the recurring role of FBI assistant director Brad Follmer in the hit
series “The X-Files.”
The handsome blonde actor made his return to romantic comedy adventure as Prince
Regent Edgar in Ella Enchanted (2004), a modern-day, fantasy Cinderella. The
same year, he costarred with Leigh Whannell, Danny Glover and Dina Meyer in the
highly successful horror Saw, where he was handed a 2005 MTV Movie nod for Best
Frightened Performance. After roles in Neo Ned (2005), Edison (2005) and the CBS
film Pope John Paul II (2005, played the younger Karol Wojtyla), Elwes teamed up
with Estella Warren and Jon Bon Jovi as an oily district lawyer in the
independent comedy National Lampoon’s The Trouble with Frank (2006).
The 44-year-old performer recently has completed the comedy film Walk the Talk
(2006), costarring opposite Evan Ellingson, and television film comedy Haskett’s
Chance (2006), directed by Tim Blake Nelson. Additionally, Elwes will star with
William Baldwin in Sakura: Blue-Eyed Samurai (2006), share the screen with
Saffron Burrows in the comedy Complete History of the Breast (2006) and play
Arnold in Garry Marshall’s drama Georgia Rule (2007, opposite Jane Fonda,
Lindsay Lohan, Felicity Huffman and Dermot Mulroney).