Andre the Giant was a big man with a big appetite. Tales of the late professional wrestler’s alcohol intake are legendary, and one of the big man’s former drinking buddies has just added more fuel to the fire regarding Andre’s epic consumption of the hard stuff.
Outside of wrestling, Andre Rene Roussimoff found fame in Rob Reiner’s 1987 fairy-tale classic, The Princess Bride, and during filming the 550-pound, 7-foot-4 giant became renowned for his serious appetite for liquor, according to Andre’s co-star Cary Elwes, who played the film’s sardonic pirate hero.
Currently promoting his Princess Bride memoir, As You Wish, Elwes regaled The Daily Beast with tales of Andre’s drinking. Specifically the time when the giant passed out drunk in a hotel lobby. As opposing to trying to shift the intoxicated giant, the hotel management surrounded Andre with a velvet rope.
“There’s no shifting a 550-pound, 7-foot-4 giant, so they had a choice: either call the authorities, and they didn’t want that kind of publicity, or wait for him to wake up, which was the wiser decision.”
Elwes explains the Andre’s preferred tipple was a 40-ounce blend of liquors lovingly named ‘The American.’ Andre could allegedly consume several of these exotic beverages in one session, but when Andre persuaded his friend to give the unique drink a go, Elwes was far from impressed.
“I’ve never tasted airplane fuel, but I imagine it’s very close to what that must taste like. It’s very potent indeed, and I remember coughing a lot. But to him, it was like chugging water.”
Andre who died in 1993 of congestive heart failure was already courting tales of legendary drinking during his stint as a professional wrestler. As a 2007 episode of WWE’s Legends explains.
“Most of the stories — the times he drank over a hundred beers at a sitting, the occasions on which he imbibed multiple bottles of blended whiskey before dinner, several bottles of wine with dinner, and then cognac with dessert — are hard to substantiate, because his drinking partners were seldom conscious at the finish.”
In a 1984 interview with David Letterman, Andre confirmed he once drank 117 beers in one night but admitted he had quit drinking beer in order to reduce his weight from 560 to 470 pounds (though he copped to the occasional two or three bottles of white wine with dinner).
Elwes explains that despite his heavy drinking, he didn’t believe Andre was an alcoholic and suggests he drank as a form of self-medication. In particular, Andre suffered from chronic back pain caused by his wrestling injuries and the symptoms of acromelagy, the disease which caused his gigantism.
“He was due to have an operation right after the shoot, and his doctor didn’t know what kind of pain medication to give him because of his size, so the only way that he could deal with the pain was to drink alcohol.”
Elwes also insists the alcohol didn’t interfere with Andre’s acting abilities.
“It didn’t affect him at all. He didn’t flub a line or miss a day.”