As You Wish, Cary Elwes’ new book about the making of The Princess Bride, came out on October 14—two weeks ago it made the #3 slot on the New York Times Bestseller List for Hardcover Nonfiction (it’s since slipped to #11). Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Patton and Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl were the only books keeping it from the top slot; by comparison, Elwes’ memoir was a far more surprising success. It turns out that people sure do love The Princess Bride. A lot.
The hand of Andre the Giant, cradling a regular-sized can of beer
And where The Princess Bride is being discussed, tales of Andre the Giant cannot be far behind. Elwes relates some incredible stories about the wrestler’s mind-boggling capacity for alcohol:
André was due to have an operation after he wrapped the movie. But until then the only medication he could take to deal with the pain was alcohol. Now, if you think André could eat, you should have seen him drink. It was legendary. Word had it that even before he developed the injury he could drink a hundred beers in one sitting. According to some estimates his average daily consumption of alcohol was a case of beer, three bottles of wine, and a couple of bottles of brandy. But what I witnessed was something quite different. At meal times, besides the incredible amount of food he ate, I noticed that rather than using a regular glass, André drank from a beer pitcher, which looked a lot like a regular glass in his hands anyway. In reality it was forty ounces of alcohol, which he nicknamed “The American”—usually some combination of hard and soft liquor and whatever else he felt like mixing it with that day. I should point out that not once did I notice any sign of the alcohol affecting him, which made sense given his size. …
It turns out that same night after the read-through André decided he would sample some of the finest vintage aperitifs and liqueurs from the cellars of the prestigious hotel and ended up closing the bar. When it came to last call he got up to leave but never made it to the front door, instead passing out cold in the lobby. The night porter was called, who in turn summoned security, who in turn rang engineering. Manpower was apparently needed. Yet, despite their valiant efforts, there was simply no waking or even slightly budging what could only be described as an unconscious 500-pound Gulliver spread out on their very ornate carpet. A meeting was held and the wise decision was made to leave him there. … For safety purposes, both to protect him and any passersby, they decided to place a small velvet rope barrier around André, who was by now snoring loudly enough to shake the lobby walls.
Elwes quotes Buttercup herself, Robin Wright, on the subject: “He was a bottomless pit. I think he went through a case of wine, and he wasn’t even tipsy.”
As Richard English wrote in the pages of Modern Drunkard, “No other wrestler ever matched his exploits as a drunkard. In fact, no other human has ever matched Andre as a drinker. He is the zenith. He is the Mount Everest of inebriation. … Consider the number 7,000. It’s an important number, and a rather scary one considering its context, which is this—it has been estimated that Andre the Giant drank 7,000 calories worth of booze every day. The figure doesn’t include food. Just booze.”
English claims that Andre the Giant holds the record for beers consumed in a single sitting, at 119, a feat that took him (only) six hours—meaning that he drank a beer every three minutes on average. According to English, Andre’s bar tab for a month’s stay at the Hyatt in London while filming The Princess Bride came to just over $40,000.
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Existential odd couple: Samuel Beckett and André the Giant had a posse