On April 10th, 2018, at 10 P.M. HBO will be releasing a new documentary, Andre The Giant, based on the life of Andre Rene Roussimoff, better known to all of us as Andre the Giant. It doesn’t matter if you’re a wrestling fan or not, it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t know who Andre the Giant is. In the ring, he represented an enormous obstacle for anyone who dared enter it. Outside the ring, he often represented a larger than life character we found endearing and lovable much like his character Fezzik in The Princess Bride. The Documentary will cover who Andre was behind the scenes. The Andre we didn’t get to see. With interviews with WWE CEO Vince McMahon, former WWE rival Hulk Hogan, Golden Globe-winning actress Robin Wright, and a Myriad of others who knew the big man when the cameras weren’t running, it’ll be a compelling look behind the curtain of who the Giant really was.
Early Life and Wrestling
Andre was born near Grenoble, France, and his parents were of Slavic descent. Andre showed signs of giganticism early, growing to over six feet tall before he reached 13. At 17, he moved to Paris to train to become a wrestler. He started his career in Europe and Canada before finding his way to the World Wide Wrestling Federation, the promotion that would become the WWF and then WWE, in 1973. Andre would become a mainstay for the promotion. Billed as an unstoppable force and nearly unbeatable, he was a living representation of an unstoppable foe best represented in his massive bout with Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania III that was one of the most significant events of 1987.
He racked up a litany of accolades in and out of the WWE, then known as the WWF. He was a one time WWF Heavyweight and Tag Team Champion and wrestled with other major promotions like New Japan Pro Wrestling and All Japan Pro Wrestling. Andre was also the sole inaugural inductee in the WWF Hall of Fame in 1993 and lends his namesake to The Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. It is a match that has taken place at the last five Wrestlemanias, and the winner is awarded a giant trophy with a statue of Andre himself on the top. He was a legend in the ring. But he also made a name for himself in another arena… drinking.
Andre the Drinker
Andre the Giant is well known for his ability to drink so much it would make Thor blush. Known for drinking wine bottles like the average person drinks a can of beer, the man has a line of wrestlers who openly vouch for his unholy ability to drink. Hulk Hogan has told stories of Andre drinking over 100 beers in less than an hour in an airport and 12 bottles of wine on a three-hour bus trip. Even Ric Flair has accounts of Andre clearing planes of their Vodka inventory. If The Nature Boy Rick Flair talks about how intensely you can throw down, that is an accomplishment.
If you tuned into the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony this past Wrestlemania weekend, you were treated to a story by Hillbilly Jim that involved the Giant. He spoke of how Andre and himself cleared the plane of their entire liquor supply. Jim said on a flight from Miami, Florida to Dayton, Ohio they combined to drink 57 of the small airplane bottles of liquor. Jim claims he only accounted for eight of them. When a flight attendant went to the captain to inform him of what was transpiring in the cabin, he came out to address the two men. Upon seeing the two massive wrestlers, whos combined weight was over 800 lbs., he immediately turned back around and returned to the cockpit. And no one can blame him…
Andre’s story is full of jovial accounts of his drinking. But this documentary will also address the dark side of it all. He didn’t just drink for fun, he drank to numb himself. Often in pain due to his gigantism, he needed an escape and standing 7′ 4″ and weighing 500 lbs. It took an inhuman amount to get himself to the state it took for him to get through the day. At a point, it went from fun, to destructive.
Andre in Pop Culture
Andre the Giant was more than a wrestler. He was a pop-culture icon. His size was often treated like a modern day sideshow attraction. People loved comparing their own height and hand size to the massive bruiser. His size and distinct accent made him a character all his own, sneaking into TV shows and movies. His most famous was in the aforementioned cult classic, The Princess Bride. Andre endeared himself to audiences as the lovable sidekick to Mandy Patinkin. Andre showed he could be a commodity outside of the ring. In a dose of irony to that, The Princess Bride was released the same year as his titanic Wrestlemania III match with Hulk Hogan, 1987. It seemed he would be set for a career in the spotlight. Unfortunately, it didn’t pan out that way for Andre.
Andre would go on to make a few more appearances for WWE over the next few years and would finish his career with All Japan Pro Wrestling in 1992. On January 27, 1993, Andre the Giant passed away while in Paris for his father’s funeral. He was 46 years old. Andre was a legend. A Giant among men. It is only fitting that he receives an in-depth look at his life.If you are interested in hearing about the life of Andre Rene Roussimoff, tune in to HBO on April 10th at 10 P.M.
Take a look at the trailer below: