Bill Simmons, the producer of HBO’s “Andre The Giant” documentary, recently did an interview with ESPN to discuss the project. Here are some of the highlights:
You could tell in the documentary how much Andre meant to Vince, but you could also see that they didn’t part on the best terms and that still hurts Vince. It’s pretty heartbreaking. How aware were you of the relationship they had going into this project?
“We don’t make that movie if he’s not interviewed. We made that clear. He was obviously so protective of the Andre legacy and he had a lot of conflicted emotions of how it played out, and we talked about it even before we agreed to do the movie that he has to be interviewed. We can’t do it if you’re not in it. It’s tough. It’s all genuine and what he thought at the end was Vince used him. As soon as he couldn’t wrestle anymore it was like thanks and wrestling goes on. It’s pretty complicated.
“There’s also a lot of things that could have been in the doc, but I think the pace is important. It’s 86 minutes and there’s a bunch of other stuff we could have added but then it slows down, and you have to keep things moving. One of things that could have been in it after we did the interviews was Andre’s relationship with Stephanie [McMahon]. She’s a little girl at that point, but Andre was like a big brother to her. He was unusually tight with that family, which makes things a lot more complicated.”
Could you picture the arc of this movie and building it towards that iconic match between Andre and Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania III before you even started working on it?
“The whole time I thought this is one of the easiest docs for me to sell. Even when we were selling it to Vince, the arc of it was so clear — it had to build to WrestleMania III, and it had to have the part where wrestling takes off after Andre had already peaked but they need him for this match. Even though his body was breaking down and, oh by the way, they don’t know whether he has decided if he wants to lose or not. It was so obviously a great documentary arc and it’s really hard to find those.
“We did so many at 30 for 30 and I learned so much about the arcs and where it works and doesn’t work. We were able to do some without one at all. I thought the Bo Jackson one was good, people liked it, but it didn’t really have an arc. It was like this guy was great and then he got hurt and you work around that and tell a story and make it cool but ultimately there’s not the twists and turns that a movie would have.
“We had success at 30 for 30 with things like The Fab Five and The U, where you could jump in at any time. It really captured these iconic teams. Those worked and were super re-watchable and we loved doing those. When it’s something like this Andre doc there’s an extra layer you can get to because it plays like a movie and those are my favorites ones. This easily could be a movie even though it couldn’t be because you could never get someone to play Andre that was convincing, but the arc of it is a movie.”
You can read Simmons’ full interview with ESPN by clicking this link here.