The project is based on the authorized graphic novel biography published last year, “Andre the Giant: Closer to Heaven.” Roussimoff’s daughter Robin Christensen-Roussimoff will consult on the film and assigned the exclusive rights for the biography to the producers.
“Andre the Giant rode the wave of the rise of wrestling in America, while suffering from the painful health condition of gigantism – there’s an Elephant Man story here,” Steindorff said.
In addition to his wrestling career, Roussimoff played a key role in Rob Reiner’s 1987 fantasy comedy “The Princess Bride” as Fezzik, part of a trio of bandits with characters played by Wallace Shawn and Mandy Patinkin. He began wrestling professionally at the age of 17 and was billed as being 7-feet-4 and over 500 pounds hailing from “Grenoble in the French Alps.”
“As a lifelong wrestling fan, I can say with conviction that no one was bigger than Andre,” said Lion Forge CEO David Steward II. “His presence and charisma were so powerful, and you could tell there was much more to him under the surface of his ring persona. It’s been an amazing experience telling that story in the book with Robin’s help. With all the spectacle, action, and emotion there on the page, a feature film just made perfect sense.”
“Andre the Giant: Closer to Heaven” was written by Brandon Easton and illustrated by Denis Medri. The biography, which was nominated for the Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity and three Glyph Awards, recounts the wrestler’s life from his earliest days working on the family farm in France along with the rise of professional wrestling itself through the World Wrestling Federation, due in large part to Andre the Giant’s celebrity.
Steward and Lion Forge’s Carl Reed will produce with Steindorff and Russell of Stone Village Productions, with Joel Falderon as a co-producer and Barry Alexander as an associate producer. Jimmy Thomas will executive produce with Peter Fruchtman.
“I’m really excited to watch this story come to life on the big screen,” Robin Christensen-Roussimoff said. “It’s been a labor of love for everyone involved, and we’re really looking forward to making it available to a larger audience.”
Stone Village, led by Steindorff and Russell, has feature films credits on Jon Favreau’s “Chef,” Natalie Portman’s “Jane Got a Gun” and Matthew McConaughey’s “The Lincoln Lawyer.” The company’s TV credits include the syndicated NBC series “Las Vegas,” starring James Caan and Josh Duhamel, and the HBO mini-series “Empire Falls” which starred Paul Newman, Ed Harris, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Helen Hunt, Joanne Woodward and Robin Wright.
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