Ivan Simon Cary Elwes , known professionally as Cary Elwes, is an English actor and voice actor. He is known for his roles as Westley in the classic film The Princess Bride, Arthur Holmwood in Francis Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula, Robin Hood in Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Garrett in Quest for Camelot, and Dr. Lawrence Gordon in Saw and Saw 3D: The Final Chapter.
His mother was of Croatian, Anglo-Irish, and Scottish descent.
Elwes was born in Westminster, London. He is the third and youngest son of portrait-painter Dominick Elwes and interior designer Tessa Georgina Kennedy, who has Serbian, Croatian-Jewish, Anglo-Irish, and Scottish ancestry. His paternal grandfather was painter Simon Elwes, whose father was the diplomat and tenor Gervase Elwes (1866–1921). His brothers are Damian Elwes, an artist, and Cassian Elwes, a producer and agent. He was the stepson of Elliott Kastner, an American film producer. One of his ancestors is John Elwes, who is believed to be the inspiration for Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol (1843) (Elwes played five roles in the 2009 film adaptation of the novel).
His parents divorced when he was four years old, and in 1975 when Elwes was thirteen his father committed suicide.
Elwes attended Harrow School in London and then the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.
Elwes moved to the United States in 1981 to study acting at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York. While living in New York, Elwes studied acting at both the Actors Studio and the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute.
Elwes made his acting debut in 1984 with Marek Kanievska's film Another Country. He played James Harcourt, a young and sentimental homosexual student from an English boarding school. He went on to play Guilford Dudley in the British film Lady Jane, co-starring Helena Bonham Carter. He was cast as a stable boy turned swashbuckler Westley in Rob Reiner's fantasy-comedy The Princess Bride, based on the novel of the same name by William Goldman. It was a modest box office success, but received critical acclaim, earning a score of 96% on the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes. Since being released on home video and television it has become a cult classic. In an interview around the film's DVD release in 2001, Elwes said, "The studio didn't know how to sell it – as an adventure, fantasy, comedy or love story, it had to rely on word of mouth". He also acknowledged the film's cult following saying, "Many people tell me they have it in their video collection, it's a family film but also a cult film in a way, being passed down to other generations".
He continued working steadily, varying between dramatic roles, as in The Bride (1985) with Sting and Jennifer Beals, to the Academy Award-winning Glory (1989), and comedic roles, as in Hot Shots! (1991). In 1993, he starred as Robin Hood in Mel Brooks's comedy, Robin Hood: Men in Tights. Elwes also appeared in such films as Francis Coppola's adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula, The Crush, Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book, Twister, Liar Liar, Cradle Will Rock, The Cat's Meow and Kiss the Girls.
In 1996, Elwes made his first television appearance as David Lookner on the sitcom Seinfeld. In 1998, he played astronaut Michael Collins in the Golden Globe Award-winning HBO miniseries From the Earth To the Moon. In 1999, he guest starred as Dr. John York in an episode of the television series The Outer Limits. He earned two Golden Satellite Award nominations for his performances in the television films The Pentagon Wars and Uprising. Elwes had a recurring role in the final season (from 2001 to 2002) of The X-Files as FBI Assistant Director Brad Follmer. In 2004, he played serial killer Ted Bundy in the A&E Network television film The Riverman, which was based on the book The Riverman: Ted Bundy and I Hunt for the Green River Killer written by Robert D. Keppel. In 2005, Elwes played the young Pope John Paul II in the CBS television film Pope John Paul II.
In 2003, he performed in Bob Balaban-directed Off-Broadway dramatic stage play The Exonerated in New York during its 18–23 March, week run.
In 2004, he starred in the horror–thriller Saw which, at a budget of a little over $1 million, grossed over $100 million worldwide. The same year he appeared in Ella Enchanted, portraying the villain rather than the hero. He made an uncredited appearance as Sam Green, the man who introduced Andy Warhol to Edie Sedgwick, in the 2006 film Factory Girl.
In 2007, he made a guest appearance on the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode "Dependent" as a Mafia lawyer. In 2009, he played the role of Pierre Despereaux, an international art thief, in the fourth season premiere of Psych. In 2010, he returned to Psych, reprising his role in the second half of the fifth season, and again in the show's sixth season. In March 2011, Elwes was selected to appear as Henry Detmer in the pilot episode of NBC's Wonder Woman. However, the show was never picked up for a series. Elwes just completed work on the USA Network pilot, Horizon produced by Gale Anne Hurd
In 2007, he appeared in Garry Marshall's Georgia Rule with Jane Fonda. He also starred in the mystery thriller Shadows.
Elwes portrayed Dr. Clement in the psychological thriller Psych 9 (2010). Elwes returned to the Saw franchise in Saw 3D (2010), the seventh and final film in the series, as Dr. Lawrence Gordon. Elwes was set to portray George Harrison in Zemeckis's 3D performance capture re-telling of Yellow Submarine; however in May 2011, Disney withdrew from the project, leaving its fate uncertain. He played Bobbly Wobbly in The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure; filming was completed in late 2009 and the film was released on 29 August 2012. Elwes filmed a film adaptation of Camilla Dickinson in late 2010 where he played Rafferty Dickinson. It is awaiting release. In 2012, Elwes will appear in the independent drama The Citizen.
On 13 December 2012, The Hollwood Reporter announced that Elwes will make his directorial debut with an independent film about the life of Kit Lambert, the manager for the rock group The Who from a script penned by Pat Gilbert, a former editor of the British music magazine Mojo. The film is based on interviews and recordings with Kit Lambert made by journalist Jon Lindsay and is being produced by Orian Williams.
Elwes's voice-over work includes the narrator in James Patterson's audio book The Jester, as well as characters in film and television animations such as Quest for Camelot, Pinky and The Brain, Batman Beyond, and the English versions of the Studio Ghibli films Porco Rosso, Whisper of the Heart and The Cat Returns. For the 2004 video game The Bard's Tale, he served as scriptwriter, improviser, and voice actor of the main character The Bard. In 2009, he appeared in Robert Zemeckis's motion capture adaption of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. In 2011 he also appeared in Steven Spielberg's motion capture adaptation of Belgian artist Hergé's popular comic strip The Adventures of Tintin. That same year Elwes performed the English voice over for Indian film, Delhi Safari. The following year Elwes portrayed the part of Gremlin Gus in Disney's video game, Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two.
He was brought up as a Roman Catholic.