Andre the Giant, a documentary examining the life and career of one of the most beloved legends in WWE history will premiere on Tuesday, April 10 exclusively on HBO. Emmy(R)-winning director and producer Jason Hehir (JMH FILMS) is the director.
HBO Sports and WWE are partnering for the first time ever on this feature-length presentation, which combines never-before-seen footage and revealing interviews for a comprehensive and intimate portrait of one of WWE’s most beloved, yet largely unknown, figures. The wide-ranging documentary explores Andre’s upbringing in France, his celebrated career in WWE and forays in the entertainment world, and includes interviews with Vince McMahon, Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Billy Crystal, Rob Reiner, family members and more.
André René Roussimoff was born in 1946 in Grenoble, France. Early in his teenage years, he exhibited signs of gigantism, rapidly growing to more than seven feet, though he was not diagnosed with acromegaly until his twenties. He began his training in Paris at 17 and eventually became known in wrestling circuits around the world, including Europe, Australia and Africa. In 1970, Roussimoff made his Japanese debut, which put him on the radar of Vince McMahon Sr., founder of what is now known as World Wrestling Entertainment.
In 1973, Andre joined the organization, where McMahon Sr. famously billed him as Andre the Giant. Andre’s unique voice and athletic prowess, coupled with his more than 500-pound, seven-foot, four-inch frame, made him an unforgettable attraction.
During his ascent to the top of the ranks, Andre engaged in memorable matches with Killer Khan, Big John Studd and King Kong Bundy, compiling an undefeated streak that lasted the better part of a decade. In 1987, Andre hit the pinnacle of his career during his rivalry with Hulk Hogan, one of the biggest stars in WWE and pop culture history. As a new villain, Andre squared off with Hogan at “WrestleMania(R) III” at the Silverdome in Michigan, and in one of the most memorable moments in pro wrestling history, Hogan body-slammed Andre to retain the championship in front of 93,173 fans.
While wrestling’s fan base continued to grow, Roussimoff’s health began to decline. Despite his health issues, the “Eighth Wonder of the World” remained at the forefront during the company’s golden era. Following “WrestleMania III,” Andre took on other WWE legends such as Jake “The Snake” Roberts(TM), “Macho Man” Randy Savage(TM) and The Ultimate Warrior(R), participating in numerous marquee events until 1991. Andre became the first inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1993.
Roussimoff’s larger-than-life personality also allowed him to pursue a career in acting. He appeared in TV sitcoms and films during the ’70s and ’80s, often playing himself or some variation of a human giant, and is best-remembered for his role as Fezzik in Rob Reiner’s classic “The Princess Bride.”
Outside the ring, Andre Roussimoff was a gentle giant. The subject of stares and ridicule for his size throughout his life, he was a self-described introvert. On Jan. 27, 1993, Andre Roussimoff succumbed to his gigantism and died of congestive heart failure. And while WWE has had a memorable cast of larger-than-life stars during the two decades since his passing, Andre the Giant is still remembered as one of the greatest.