By Dan Gelston
The tall tales and colossal career of Andre the Giant will be told in an upcoming HBO documentary.
WWE, HBO Sports and the Bill Simmons Media Group will produce “Andre The Giant,” a documentary film examining the life and career of one of professional wrestling’s truly biggest stars.
Andre Rene Roussimoff, a native of France, was a popular touring attraction for years in wrestling and headlined the third WrestleMania in 1987 against Hulk Hogan.
The wide-ranging documentary will explore Andre’s upbringing in France, his celebrated career in WWE and his forays in the entertainment world that included a role in “The Princess Bride.”
HBO did not announce an air date for the film.
Bill Simmons, who joined HBO in the summer of 2015 and founded The Ringer, will serve as an executive producer of the film.
Andre the Giant was diagnosed with acromegaly, a disorder marked by progressive enlargement of the head, face, hands, feet and chest, due to excessive secretion of growth hormones. He died in 1993 and was the first wrestler inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
HBO Sports and WWE have partnered for the first time on the documentary.
“Going back to 2007 and 2008 when I was creating and developing ‘30 for 30’ for ESPN, Andre’s story rode the top of every single sports documentary wish list I ever made,” Simmons said. “We always hear about unicorns these days; Andre was the ultimate unicorn. He’s a true legend. Everyone who ever crossed paths with him has an Andre story — and usually four or five.”
Jason Hehir will direct “Andre the Giant.”
Andre the Giant’s best remembered film role was Fezzik in Rob Reiner’s 1980s classic, “The Princess Bride.”
Roussimoff died of a heart attack at 46 while visiting France to attend his father’s funeral. He was billed in wresting as 7-foot-4 and more than 500 pounds, though he was shorter and lighter than the exaggerated measurements. But he was still an anomaly in professional wrestling, and friends often spread stories that Andre could drink more than 100 beers in one night, flip over cars loaded with people, or pass a silver dollar though one of his rings.
WWE has held the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal in his honor each of the last three years at WrestleMania.