André Roussimoff, better known as the wrestler André the Giant, wasn’t only a giant in stature: he was living a legend.
In the upcoming HBO documentary, “André the Giant,” from Bill Simmons’ Ringer Films, he’s even referred to as “a god.”
The film, which debuts on Tuesday, April 10, gathers up the titans of wrestling to share their larger than life stories about André.
There’s Arnold Schwarzenegger telling of the time that when he tried to pick up the check at dinner, André instead picked Arnie up and put him on an armoire like he was a rag doll. And of course, everyone has a legendary story aboutAndré’s drinking. Ric Flair says in the film that he and André once put away 106 beers.
But there were a lot of stories that couldn’t fit into the documentary, even for someone as big as André (he officially stood 7-foot-4). Here’s one from “André the Giant” director Jason Hehir, who spoke with TheWrap to share a couple of stories that were cut for time.
André had a reputation from “The Princess Bride” as something of a “gentle giant,” as director Rob Reiner puts it in the HBO doc. But here’s a story that shows a more dangerous side of André.
“This legendary story that [Ric] Flair was there for. It was at this beachside bar. I forget if he said it was in Charlottesville, or somewhere down south, along the beach,” Hehir recalled.
“And Blackjack Mulligan reaches across the table and punches André in the face. And André grabs Mulligan and one other guy, Dusty Rhodes maybe or someone, and drags them out onto the shore and starts drowning both of them,” he said. And Flair had to come out and break up the fight. And then André just turned around, walked in and sat down and started drinking again.”
That was just a glimpse into the anarchy of those days.
Another story dates back when André was when he was 18. “Back in those days, you had to enlist in the army if you were an 18-year-old male in France,” Hehir said. “And one of the reasons why he got into wrestling is — he could have been off enlisted in the army somewhere, training, but he didn’t have any uniforms that would fit him. So, he kind of fell through the cracks because of that. Ironically, a guy that size falls through the cracks,” he laughed.
“And then soon after that is when he was ‘discovered’ as a pro wrestler. So when he’s 18 he’s supposed to be fitted and he can’t fit into that uniform. When he’s 19, that’s when you see that black and white video of him [training as a wrestler] that we showed,” Hehir explained.
Hehir admits his “bulls— detector” went off a bit on that first story, and made a judgment to keep it out based on a lack of “evidence and plausibility.”
André passed away in 1993, but his legend still lives on.
“André the Giant” premieres on HBO Tuesday, April, 10 at 10 p.m. ET/PT. Check back with TheWrap for more from our conversation with Hehir on Tuesday.