For die-hard fans of the fantasy classic The Princess Bride it is "inconceivable!" to think of anyone else playing those roles than the chosen pitch perfect cast. But in upcoming HBO doc, André the Giant, it’s revealed that André Roussimoff – who played the loveable giant Fezzik – almost didn't make the cut.
Jane Jenkins, the casting director of the movie, has elaborated on the process in an interview with The Wrap revealing that Roussimoff (better known as André the Giant) initially showed no interest in the part, because he had a conflicting wrestling match in Tokyo that was set to earn him millions.
Jenkins also reveals that the author of the book William Goldman had specifically requested that she go in search of Roussimoff, saying he was exactly who he had in mind for the role. “So we did not have André the Giant,” Jenkins tells the site. “So I proceeded to meet every tall person in L.A. and say ‘if you didn’t duck in through my doorway, you were way too short.'”
So who almost pipped Roussimoff to the post? Jenkins reveals that as well testing some tall-ish unknowns for the part, famous Dutch actor Carel Struycken (Lurch in the first two Addams Family movies and the fireman giant in Twin Peaks) was a close runner-up. Though it turned out that Struycken - who also played Mr. Homn in Star Trek: The Next Generation - had already signed on to star in The Witches of Eastwick (1987).
But as fate would have it, and after luckless search for alternatives, Roussimoff fight got canceled and director Rob Reiner and producer Andrew Scheinman immediately flew out to Paris to meet with the French wrestling star. Per the report, the documentary also reveals that Reiner couldn’t understand his accent when he read the lines initially, and that his sensitive nature in the movie would come to define the saying "gentle giant."
Born in 1946, professional wrestler and actor was known for his statuesque size (he was 7 ft 4 tall), which was the result of gigantism, a rare disorder resulting from increased levels of growth hormone. After starting his wrestling career at the age of 17, Roussimoff later began to act and made his debut on US screens playing a Sasquatch ("Bigfoot") in a two-part episode on The Six Million Dollar Man in 1976. As well as The Princess Bride, he had an uncredited appearance in the 1984 film Conan the Destroyer as Dagoth, a resurrected horned giant god who is slain by Conan.
The Frenchman died in his sleep of congestive heart failure in a Paris hotel room in 1993.
André the Giant airs Tuesday, April 10, on HBO at 10 p.m. Give us your thoughts on André and the rest of the cast from the movie in the comments below.