This Is Why You Recognize Andre The Giant From Young Rock
After all the buzz years ago about actors like Tom Hanks and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson potentially running for president, the latter has built his new television show, Young Rock, around that very idea. The new series, a half-hour sitcom that premiered on Feb. 16, 2021, also stars Randall Park as an alternate reality version of himself as a journalist, bringing voters an all-access view of Johnson as he runs for president in the year 2032. The show then flashes back to follow the early life of the former pro-wrestler-turned-actor.
Co-created by Johnson and Nahnatchka Khan, showrunner and creator of the ABC hit Fresh Off the Boat and director of the Netflix film Always Be My Maybe (both of which starred Park), Young Rock features three actors starring as Johnson at various points in his young life, with Johnson himself starring as the presidential-hopeful version of himself. Since his father Rocky Johnson was also a star of the wrestling world in the 1980s, young Dwayne had many colorful characters in and out of his life, including famous wrestlers Randy Savage, The Iron Sheik, Junkyard Dog, and of course, André the Giant.
Actor Matthew Willig portrays André the Giant, first appearing in Young Rock‘s pilot episode and visiting Johnson’s school class. As it turns out, there are lots of reasons why you’d recognize Willig. Let’s take a look at this athlete-turned-actor’s career.
Matthew Willig is the resident 'big guy' in Hollywood
Matthew Willig, like Dwayne Johnson, started his career as an athlete, playing football for the NFL. The California native played football while in college at University of Southern California, even playing in the Rose Bowl in 1989, according to Sporting News. Willig then played professionally over an impressive 12-year career with several teams, including the New York Jets, the Green Bay Packers, the San Francisco 49ers, and the St. Louis Rams. He retired from football in 2005 and switched to acting, playing lots of character parts for big guys with names like Vince, Tank, Stone, Sledgehammer, “Jock Guy,” and “Famous Athlete.”
It makes sense, in Hollywood typecasting, that Willig would play roles like these: he is a big guy! At 6 foot 7, Willig towers over others. He kicked off his screen career with the role of Hulk (but not The Hulk) in 1993’s Full Contact, then played Crash in an episode of Malcolm in the Middle on television. His IMDb profile is impressive, with comedic roles in The Benchwarmers, Everybody Hates Chris, iCarly, Year One with Michael Cera and Jack Black, and We’re the Millers with Jennifer Aniston and Jason Sudeikis, as well as dramatic projects like Dexter, The West Wing, CSI, and NCIS — finally expanding from big “muscle” roles to something more intense. He also played the inhuman Lash on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and has now come full circle to comedy as the legendary André the Giant.
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