What It Was Like For Andre The Giant To Work On The Princess Bride

Although he had a stellar career as a professional wrestler, if you're a millennial, you most likely remember Andre the Giant from his role as Fezzik in the classic 1987 fantasy movie The Princess Bride. He understandably demanded attention wherever he went, so it was only natural that he cross over into Hollywood films. While he starred in several TV series, including The Fall Guy, The Greatest American Hero, and The Six Million Dollar Man, Fezzik was definitely his most memorable role. And according to The Wrap, screenwriter William Goldman had the 7'4"/520-pound colossus in mind when he wrote the script. "I want a giant like Andre the Giant," he told the film's casting director, Jane Jenkins.

But there was a problem. When Jenkins contacted Andre's people, she found that he was already scheduled to wrestle in Japan, a gig that was going to bring him a seven-figure paycheck, and the studio wasn't willing to match his salary and buy out his contract with the WWF (now the WWE). Andre almost turned down the greatest role of his acting career, but as luck would have it, his match was cancelled, and he became available for the part. The producers flew out to Paris to meet him, and although they couldn't understand a word he said at first, he ended up being the perfect gentle giant for the role.

Andre the Giant was in pain while working on The Princess Bride

Although he was a wrestler who could pull in million-dollar contracts, by the time he was cast for The Princess Bride, all those years of being beaten around in the ring had really taken their toll on Andre the Giant. Just a few months before shooting, his match with Akira Maeda had possibly given the world a glimpse into how the sport had affected his body. While some said that his performance was a dud because he'd gotten sloshed beforehand, and others guessed that he was trying to irk the promoter, another theory hypothesized that his health had already begun to deteriorate. Whether or not that was the case in the ring with Maeda, Andre's Princess Bride costar Cary Elwes (Wesley) told Oregon Live that the damage wrestling had inflicted on Andre's body was evident while they were shooting.

"He was dealing with pain from a back operation from all the punishment he took in the ring," said Elwes. Andre's pain was so intense that he couldn't even do many of the stunts. "He told me that because he was a giant, in the ring wrestlers felt that they didn't have to hold back and would smash chairs on his neck and things like that," Elwes remembered. But the giant was not invincible, and like so many other wrestlers, his popularity in the ring led to intense physical suffering in his final years.

Andre the Giant had a smile on his face the whole time they were shooting The Princess Bride

Andre's costars said that despite the pain, he consistently had a good attitude on set. "He always had a smile on his face, no matter what," said Elwes. "He never once complained. If you look at pictures of him from that set, there's not one picture without a smile on his face. Not one." Elwes called Andre a "gentle giant" that would give anyone the shirt off his back. "It would be big enough for five people, but he'd still give it to you."

Mandy Patinkin (Inigo Montoya) was another cast member who remembered Andre fondly. Patinkin told NPR in 2012 that Andre enjoyed how people treated him on the set. He liked how no one stared at him like a freak. But it wasn't that he didn't like attention. Patinkin said that on the final day of filming, Andre let people take all the pictures they wanted with him. "The movie was over, the final shot was made, and we stayed around for two, three, four, five hours while every person, every grown-up and their family came by, waited in line like children at Disney Land to stand with Andre and have their photograph taken. And he took his photograph with every single person that asked." Patinkin said it taught him something about having a the right kind of attitude in life. "It was a lesson of a lifetime for me."