Former NFL lineman takes on André the Giant role on ‘Young Rock’


(NBC) – A giant episode of NBC’s comedy “Young Rock” on tap tonight.

Not giant in length, but giant in focus, more specifically, “André the Giant,” a legend in the world of pro wrestling.

The colorful characters of professional wrestling were a big part of Dwayne Johnson’s childhood in “Young Rock.”

Billed as 7 feet, 4 inches tall, and 520 pounds, the Frenchman’s fame in wrestling carried into film and a memorable turn in the classic “The Princess Bride”

It fell to Matt Willig to take on the role of André in “Young Rock”.

“Talk about gentle giant, he was the epitome of that,” said Willig. “Getting to explore his softer side, the side that people didn’t really see a lot. His love for kids, his gentleness.”

The 6-foot-8-inch former NFL lineman showcases that in Tuesday’s episode, spending the day with a young Dewey Johnson, a tribute of sorts to a legend who died back in 1993.

“To have people sort of see him just being himself has really been a treat,” said Willig.

So was filming “Young Rock,” the pandemic forced the show to bring the cast to Australia.

 “We all kind of came together and became a nice family,” said Willig. “We did a lot of things together and hung out.  It kind of made for a nice family atmosphere.”

A feeling behind the camera that translates on-screen in a very big way.  

Willig says that usually, his concern is that he’s too big for most roles, but this was the first time he worried he maybe wasn’t big enough.

Watch “Young Rock” tonight on NBC4 at 8 p.m. followed by a new episode of “Kenan” at 8:30 p.m.

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