This Is the True Story Behind André the Giant and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson

If you're watching and loving biopic sitcom, 'Young Rock,' you might be wondering what André the Giant is doing in the picture. Is he related to Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson?

Gina Vaynshteyn - Author

Feb. 16 2021, Updated 11:15 p.m. ET

andre the giant and dwayne johnson
Source: NBC

Feb. 16, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's biopic sitcom, Young Rock, premieres on NBC, and fans can't wait to learn more about the larger-than-life celeb's journey to stardom. The premiere starts off with Dwayne, who's getting interviewed by Randall Park, and the year is 2032 — Dwayne is running for president, and he wants the American people to know that he's not just a famous person running for office. He's a guy who's lived a crazy life and has worked hard for everything he has.

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We see re-enactments of Dwayne as a kid in Hawaii (Dwayne was born in in Hayward, Calif., but moved around a lot, living in New Zealand for a while and then coming back to the U.S.) who was surrounded by pro wrestlers, including his dad, Rocky Johnson, a famous pro wrestler who happened to be pals with André the Giant. 

young rock throughout years
Source: NBC
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Is The Rock related to Andre the Giant?

You might be wondering if The Rock is actually related to André the Giant (whose real name was André Roussimoff), since he's such a huge (literally) presence in his life, but he was actually best friends with The Rock's grandfather, the High Chief Peter Maivia. "They were the best of friends, wrestled nightly, tough as hell and as you can see by their smiles and open energy — they lived like to the absolute fullest," Dwayne wrote in a throwback Instagram post.

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In Young Rock, André the Giant is played by Matt Willig, who doesn't actually have gigantism (which is what caused André the Giant's immense size — he was seven feet tall, 520 pounds, and had the personality to match) but is a big guy. Matt is a former NFL player who's 6'7 and 290 pounds (we're sure there are plenty of special effects inYoung Rock to make him appear even larger than he is).

andre the giant on young rock
Source: NBC
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Sadly, both André the Giant and Dwayne's grandfather High Chief Peter Maivia have since passed. The High Chief died in 1982 of cancer. He was only 45. André also passed away at a young age in 1993. He was only 46 when he died of congestive heart failure. As of now, it doesn't look like High Chief Peter Maivia will be introduced in Young Rock, but we'll see plenty of André throughout Dwayne's childhood and his teen years (at least three episodes, according to IMDb).

We'll also meet plenty of other famous figures, like Junkyard Dog, "Macho Man" Randy Savage, and the Wild Samoans. All of them play a huge role in The Rock's upbringing, as they showed him the value of hard work, strength, and also a lot of showmanship. There's a part in the trailer where a young Dwayne (nicknamed Dewey) calls wrestling "fake." André the Giant lifts him off the ground and tells him what's up: Never use the "F" word. 

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dwayne the rock and wrestlers
Source: NBC

If you're wondering whether the sitcom will show a re-enactment of one of the more famous stories between Dwayne and André the Giant (that André took little Dwayne to go see E.T.), the answer is yes. 

Watch for yourself every Tuesday on NBC at 8 p.m. ET.

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