Matthew Willig (Concussion) will play Andre the Giant on Dwayne Johnson's biographical comedy series Young Rock. Developed by Johnson and Hahnatchka Khan (Fresh Off the Boat), the series focuses on the future Hollywood star's adolescent years in the time before he found fame as a professional wrestler. With Willig in the part, Andre the Giant will be featured in a recurring capacity.
Standing at around seven feet tall and weighing over 500 pounds, Andre the Giant was a pro wrestling legend who truly was larger than life. Wrestling fans will remember the WWE Hall of Famer feuding with the likes of Hulk Hogan and other big stars during the 1980s. Behind the scenes, Andre was known to be very private and didn't let many people in, but he was particularly close with the Johnson family, which included a "unique and beautiful relationship with Dewey (Johnson's nickname when he was a young boy) who idolized the 8th Wonder of the World."
Outside of the ring, Andre is also very well known for playing Fezzik the giant in the beloved fantasy movie The Princess Bride. He also appeared in movies like Conan the Destroyer, Micki & Maude, and Trading Mom. As such a truly unique individual, Andre is a pop culture icon who has long been one of the most recognizable pro wrestlers in the world. After he passed away in 1993, he became the inaugural inductee into the WWF Hall of Fame. He is still consistently referenced on WWE programming as well.
Willig is a former pro football star, spending 14 years in the NFL which includes a win with the St. Louis Rams at Super Bowl XXXIV. When injuries put an end to his sports career, Willig took on acting. He has since picked up recurring roles on shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Dexter, and NCIS. He has also appeared on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Grimm, Charmed, and Chuck. Willig has also had many roles in movies, including parts in the Rob Zombie horror 3 From Hell and the 2013 comedy Meet the Millers. On the big screen, we last saw Willig in last year's Margot Robbie movie Birds of Prey.
Dwayne Johnson will appear in every episode of Young Rock as the narrator, telling viewers the story of his young years. The series will star Adrian Groulx as 10-year-old Dwayne, Bradley Constant as 15-year-old Dwayne, and Uli Latukefu as 18-20-year-old Dwayne. Along with the young Rock actors and Willig, Young Rock also stars Joseph Lee Anderson and Ana Tuisila as Johnson's parents. Dwayne's father, Rocky Johnson, was also a professional wrestler who had competed in the World Wrestling Federation in the 80s.
Young Rock will premiere on Tuesday, Feb. 16 on NBC. The pilot was co-written by Khan and Fresh Off the Boat co-executive producer Jeff Chiang. Executive producers include Johnson, Khan, Jennifer Carreras, Dany Garcia, Hiram Garcia, and Brian Gewirtz. The series is produced by Universal Television, Johnson's Seven Buck Productions, and Khan's Fierce Baby Productions. This news comes to us from Deadline.