She wasn’t actually “introducing,” when she played Buttercup. The year before, she’d been seventeenth billed in Hollywood Vice Squad, starring Frank Gorshin, Joey Travolta, and Carrie Fisher! I don’t blame anyone unaware of that, though. I suppose soap opera fans could say that they knew her as Kelly Capwell Conrad on a staggering 538 episodes of Santa Barbara, but I, for one, never watched Santa Barbara. (The only soap operas I’ve maintained any kind of long-term interest in have been novelas.) But she was essentially unknown when she joined the cast of The Princess Bride, and she would never be unknown again.
I wonder sometimes what her career could have been like without her on-again, off-again relationship with ex-husband Sean Penn. I’m sure she wouldn’t choose otherwise, knowing what she knows now, but she gave up a couple of iconic roles because she was pregnant. It’s the great danger for women, I think, which is why you get things like women spending entire seasons of TV shows sitting behind desks and so forth. I wonder if this might be a better use of CGI than Benjamin Button was—removing evidence of pregnancy from women’s figures.
But she’s doing okay by herself now. I couldn’t really get into House of Cards, but I knew people who wanted her to be the focus of the show before the whole Kevin Spacey thing. And a lot of my friends were thrilled by her performance as Antiope, which was pretty good for how little they really gave her to do. And while I am the only person who really liked The Conspirator, my but she was good in The Conspirator.
It’s worth noting that, while Rob Reiner was specifically called on to cast The Most Beautiful Woman In The World, he knew that it would only work if she had a sense of humour as well. Buttercup herself is never funny—frankly, she’s not smart enough to be funny. But the performance we get requires a woman who is herself smart enough and funny enough to understand what’s happening around her—the opposite of Vizzini, really, who works better because the character is not as smart as he thinks he is and needs an actor who doesn’t understand why the character is funny. The actress playing Buttercup must be smarter than Buttercup in order to keep us from looking down on her, I think, and we’re supposed to look down on Vizzini.
I’m glad that Robin Wright has done more than just Buttercup, because otherwise, it might be sadly tempting to look at her as a beautiful woman without brains or talent or humour. Even though, as I believe, it’s obvious from her performance that there’s more to her than just her beauty. However, even in the Cary Elwes book that inspired my writing all these articles, several people suggest that really attractive people aren’t usually [fill in the blank]. I believe that, inasmuch as that’s true at all, it’s true because of our societal expectations. It’s more possible for an attractive person to coast, I guess, but that doesn’t mean all attractive people are.
Help me afford a copy of The Conspirator; consider supporting my Patreon!