Talk to British actor Cary Elwes about something he feels is not pertinent to his acting and a chilling transformation comes over the Prince Charming of "Princess Bride." The actor's perfect jawline clenches and his cool green eyes freeze over in a way that lets you know this dashingly handsome actor is tired of being known for being "dashingly handsome." He wants to be taken seriously.
"There's a lot of mediocrity out there," he says. "Every actor gets deluged with it at some point. So I focus only on the film projects that interest me."
In the current Civil War drama "Glory," Elwes plays a Union soldier who, along with a Boston Brahmin played by Matthew Broderick, is put in charge of the North's first regiment of blacks. The film provides a sweeping, violent look at the Civil War, with racist epithets being hurled among the canon fodder.
"A lot of scenes were taken from fact," says Elwes. "We wanted to show every aspect of the brutalities that these people suffered from their own side in the North."
In his next film, Elwes co-stars with Tom Cruise in "Days of Thunder," a movie about stock car racers being shot this winter in the South. "Those guys have everything," Elwes says of the drivers. "Wives, children, success--and in a fraction of a second they could lose it all."
Elwes would not discuss the specifics of his role in "Days of Thunder," which was written by Robert Towne and is being directed by Tony Scott ("Top Gun"), but he was expansive about his experiences with "Glory." He speaks excitedly about the camaraderie between director Ed Zwick and the cast and crew during the long, cold filming of the battle scenes in southern Georgia, though he doesn't completely conceal his irritation over the scenes between him and Broderick that were trimmed.
"I'm happy with it," he says. "The film had a message, a plot that worked on many levels and it was well-written. For an actor, that's it."