Andre the Giant is a wrestling legend who helped put the WWE on the map in the 80s. He also blazed a path for wrestlers in Hollywood. Born André René Roussimoff, the wrestling titan died far too young at just 46. Despite his brief life, Andre left a rich legacy outside of the ring in film and TV. Now it’s common for wrestlers to land major parts in movies. Behemoth performers like Dwayne Johnson and Dave Bautista have even made the full transition to full-fledged film actors. However, parts for wrestlers were few and far between until Andre the Giant broke the mold.
Standing seven feet, four inches tall and billed as the “Eighth Wonder of the World” by promotors, Andre the Giant was an instant wrestling fan favorite. His presence was indomitable. Matches against him helped send wrestlers like Hulk Hogan to the superstardom level. It’s no surprise that an early TV role remains iconic to 70s and 80s kids to this day.
Andre the Giant’s Size 24 Feet Came in Handy for an Iconic TV Role
In a memorable episode of The Six Million Dollar Man, titled “The Secret of Bigfoot,” Col. Steve Austin faces off against none other than Bigfoot. Who else could fill those gargantuan shoes than Andre the Giant? After all, he reportedly wore a size 24. The two-part episode led up to an epic fight between the bionic hero and the furry monster. Eventually, it’s revealed that the Bigfoot is actually a robot when Austin manages to rip off his arm, sending sparks flying. The moment is burned into TV lovers everywhere. Andre’s turn as the legendary monster was so memorable, that he even got his own action figure.
The Wrestling Icon Faces off Against the 80s Biggest Action Star
In the 1980s, Arnold Schwarzenegger was the absolute king of action. Sporting a chiseled, impossibly huge physique, Schwarzenegger seemed larger than life in roles in films like The Terminator and Commando. When it came time to make a sequel to his breakthrough role as Conan the Barbarian, filmmakers needed to find an opponent that could believably give Schwarzenegger a struggle. Of course, Andre the Giant was the perfect foe to square off against the renowned bodybuilder.
In 1984’s Conan the Destroyer, Andre the Giant plays the monster Dagoth. The wrestler, body covered in green scales, baring fangs, and wearing a hilariously awesome red cape, dominates Schwarzenegger. It’s one of the only times in the two films when it feels like a single opponent might be able to take out Conan.
Andre the Giant’s Most Famous Role Best Used His Warmth and Charm
Of course, Andre the Giant’s most beloved acting role is as the gentle titan Fezzik in 1987’s The Princess Bride. Rob Reiner’s brilliant fantasy-romance-comedy hybrid utilizes Andre in ways other folks behind the camera neglected to. Andre’s lightning-in-a-bottle chemistry with co-stars Wallace Shawn, Cary Elwes, and Mandy Patinkin showcases his sardonic humor. It’s refreshing to see him without monster makeup or wrestling tights. The production of The Princess Bride even formed a genuine friendship between Andre and co-star Billy Crystal, inspiring Crystal to create My Giant as a tribute after Andre’s untimely passing.
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