“The Eighth Wonder of the World” is coming to a TV near you — ideally a big-screen. WWE, HBO and Bill Simmons Media Group are teaming to produce Andre the Giant, a feature-length documentary about the pro wrestling legend who helped build an entertainment empire. Sports Emmy winner Jason Hehir will direct the first project from Bill Simmons since HBO canceled his talk show in November.
“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,” said Simmons, who will executive produce the film. “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.”
André Roussimoff was born in 1946 in Grenoble, France. Early in his teenage years, he showed signs of gigantism, though he was not diagnosed with acromegaly until his 20s. He began his training in Paris at 17 and eventually became known in wrestling circuits in 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, Roussimoff joined the organization where McMahon Sr. famously tabbed him as Andre the Giant. Andre’s unique voice, athletic prowess and sheer girth — he was billed as 7-foot-4 and north of 500 lbs. — made him an unforgettable attraction. He ascended through the ranks and ultimately compiled a years-long winning streak. Among his many memorable opponents were Jake “The Snake” Roberts, “Macho Man” Randy Savage (left), the Ultimate Warrior and Hulk Hogan. He retired in 1991 and two years became the first inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame.
During and after his career in the squared circle, Roussimoff dabbled in acting, famously playing Fezzik (“Anybody want a peanut?”) in Rob Reiner’s The Princess Bride. He died in 1993.
“For more than 20 years, Andre the Giant’s larger-than-life personality and unique charisma captured the imagination of fans around the world,” WWE Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon said. “I will always value our friendship and am proud to tell [his] story.”