There was a Princess Bride reunion at Steel City Con. Wallace Shawn (Vizzini), Carey Elwes (Westley) and Chris Sarandon (Prince Humperdink) each told stories from their careers and all three told stories about one coworker: André the Giant.
The stories were funny, but with him being gone, there was an air of sadness as he is truly missed by everyone he worked with.
“Well, André the Giant was in his 40s and no giant lives to be 50, really. So right there, you know, was a rather sad fact hovering over the set and in the face of that though he had never played a speaking part in the movie, although he acted in a couple of movies, but silently and I think for him it was a challenge and very enjoyable. He was quite proud of it and of course, he turned out to be tremendously good at,” said Shawn during his separate Q&A. “I mean, based on his wrestling experience, he can do easily things that the rest of us found rather difficult or that I found difficult.”
Shawn then talked about blocking markers for scenes and how he continuously had issues following the markers.
“André, because of his wrestling training, he just did it, no problem just easily he can do all of those things. On the other hand, he couldn’t do feats of strength that people thought he could do, and that he could have done 10 years earlier because he was losing his strength,” said Shawn. “He was very, very sweet and lovely. And I think he was really enjoying it and then enjoying the fact that heás doing a great job. And then when the movie came out, I think he very much enjoyed, you know, having been in it and people’s appreciating what a great job he did. So it’s a double thing, but it’s not something that you would choose to be a giant, it’s a disability.”
Carey Elwes and Chris Sarandon
Both Elwes and Sarandon in the Princess Bride panel reflected back on eating with André at a restaurant. It was an experience they both cherish.
“Back then we didn’t have celebrity chefs in England. So what he did is, being French, he appreciated good food. And by the way, when he ordered in a restaurant, he ordered one side of the menu, ate that, then order the other side of the menu, ate that. It was amazing,” said Elwes.
“Never mind any number of bottles of wine,” said Sarandon. “He consumed mass quantities of everything.”
While Elwes worked with André more than Sarandon, Sarandon’s story seemed to sum up André’s struggle. As he was preparing to leave to film, Sarandon tried explaining the movie to his young daughters. Apparently, they couldn’t have cared less about princesses or brides, what piqued their interest was that there was a giant in the movie.
“As soon as I got the word ‘giant’ out of my mouth, ‘What? Daddy? Thereás a giant in the movie? What, how big is the giant? Is he as big as a car, is he as big as a house, if he picked you up could you throw you across the room? Could he break the world,'” said Sarandon imitating his daughters. “From that moment on I was a supporting character in the story of Andre the Giant in the Princess Bride, as we all were to my daughters so that every time when I get to England I call them and as soon as I get on the phone ‘Hi sweetie, it’s daddy.’ ‘Hi Daddy, where’s the giant? Have you seen the giant yet is he big? Is he as big as a house, is he as big as a car? If he picks you up could he throw you so far that you would fall down and never get back up?'”
When his daughters came to England to visit, Sarandon set up a meeting with them and André. Sarandon mimed the encounter when André stood up to greet the girls, they paused, looked him up and down and they “screamed at the top of their lungs, you know that decibel level that young girls get to.” Sarandon apologized profusely to Andre who told him not to worry about it.
“Don’t worry about it, boss. Either they run to me, or they run from me,” Sarandon recalls André saying. “This was Andre’s life. He was the most famous human being on the planet. And wherever he was, people either went to him like a magnet, or they ran away, because they were, you know, superstitious, afraid, whatever and he handled it with such dignity with such aplomb. I mean, he was totally comfortable with who he was.”