Andre the Giant, subject of a new HBO documentary, was huge, literally. The wrestler seemed almost to have stepped out of legend or myth. Billed at a whopping 7-foot-4 and 477 pounds, he was a veritable Grendel, with deep-set eyes, frizzy hair, and a protruding jaw.
The documentary tells the story of a once normal-sized man from France whose eventual extraordinary girth led him into a world of entertainment that not only celebrated him but at times made him feel like the loneliest man in the world. A man that wanted desperately to not only be liked but to fit in.
Andre was a gentle giant that suffered a lot of pain. He was a man who suffered from alcoholism as his popularity grew, as told through interviews with Ric Flair, Jerry Lawler, and Vince McMahon and at the end suffered immense pain before dying in France shortly after the death of his father.
No matter your level of wrestling fandom – this inside look into the traveling carnival-style world which Andre chose to embrace as his home is a fascinating journey of an art form’s evolution from niche to mainstream. Andre was there, in all his hulking glory, to bridge the gap between pro-wrestling as an outlying stigma-riddled sideshow to a sweeping national phenomenon. And the way his story, as a personal tale of triumph and eventual decline, mirrored the biggest traditional period in the history of the business makes for quite the “truth is stranger than fiction” ride.
The Andre documentary is currently streaming on all HBO platforms.