A-List: Wrestlers on Film
By Sean Collier
June 19, 2008
You'll indulge me, kind BOP readers, in a brief moment of introduction, before I pull the A-List out of a nearly three-year-deep pile of mothballs. The name's Sean Collier, and I'm truly delighted to be writing for you. As a long time reader of Box Office Prophets, I'm well aware of the fine quality of writing you've come to expect, and hope that I can live up to the lofty standards set by the rest of the staff. I'll be bringing you a new A-List every other Thursday; keep an eye out for a review here and there, too. And now, to diverge wildly from expectations, let's talk about pro wrestling for a while.
This Friday marks the release of Get Smart, and with it, perhaps the highest-profile role taken on by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. The former WWE Champ was marked as a potential star after hosting a well-received episode of Saturday Night Live in 2000. His first big-screen role of note came as a villain in The Mummy Returns; from there, a run of middling action flicks worked to permanently lift The Rock out of the ring and into Hollywood.
Perhaps it's a testament to Johnson's star power that he's been able to establish himself without a true blockbuster under his belt. His biggest draw so far has been Disney's The Game Plan, and his action career contains more flops (Walking Tall, Doom) than hits. Despite a so-so track record, The Rock has probably made the most successful leap from tights-and-turnbuckles acting to the red carpet variety; whether the tough Agent 23 in Get Smart proves to be his iconic role remains to be seen.
Of course, Dwayne's transition is nothing new; pro wrestlers trying their gruff, scowling best at performing with their clothes on is almost as old as the business itself. In honor of The Rock stapling things to people's heads alongside Steve Carell, The A-List presents the best moments of wrestlers on film. (As a special bonus, the list will remain completely free of Hulk Hogan performances!)
Andre The Giant as Fezzik, The Princess Bride
1987 was a pretty big year for Andre. His title bout with Hulk Hogan at that year's Wrestlemania III drew a live crowd of 93,000 (or 82,000 if, unlike Vince McMahon, you believe in reality,) as well as a pay-per-view audience of millions – which amounted to pretty much everybody with pay-per-view in 1987. This match is still regarded as the biggest of all time, with Andre playing the part of the hated villain trying to destroy the all-American hero; yet, by the end of the year, he had transitioned to loveable fairy tale sidekick. As the dimwitted giant Fezzik, Andre showed comedic timing that he had never flashed in the ring, particularly in a long sequence where Cary Elwes bounces off of his seven-foot frame like a pinball. Sadly, Andre's health was already beginning to fail by the time The Princess Bride was released; he died of complications from acromegaly (the condition that gave him his mammoth stature) in 1991.