Big Screen Giants: The 11 Tallest Movie Stars Ever
3:01 PM PDT 9/24/2013 by Shawn Kotzen, Chris Godley
They've played everything from Predators to Wookiees to Regular Joes who just happen to reach the ceiling: Here are the giants, listed at 7 feet tall and higher, who made it (really) big in the movies.
Born Andre Roussimoff, this gentle giant from France started out as a professional wrestler. His battles with WWF icon Hulk Hogan in the 1980s helped to establish sports entertainment as the multibillion-dollar industry it is today. His larger-than-life personality transcended the sport and soon brought him to the entertainment industry, taking roles in TV shows like Bigfoot on The Six-Million-Dollar Man. His best-known role came in the 1987 children’s fantasy classic, The Princess Bride, as the good-natured giant Fezzik.
Died: January 27, 1993 [age 46]
Carel Struycken -- 7'0"
Struycken is a Dutch-born actor, hired for his first film in 1978 after a woman spotted him on the street, stopped her car and shouted at him, “We need you for a movie!” The movie turned out to be The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, in which he played The Brute. His big break would come in 1985, courtesy of George Lucas, in the made-for-TV movie Ewoks: The Battle for Endor. He's most recognized for his portrayal of Lurch in 1991's The Addams Family and its two sequels. Other well-known performances include a super-tall Arquilian alien in the 1997 sci-fi/comedy megahit Men in Black and as the giant man in Agent Cooper’s dream sequences in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks.
Wilt Chamberlain -- 7'1"
"Wilt the Stilt" was first in a long line of professional basketball players to make the jump to the silver screen. (Apparently, members of the opposite sex were curious about his proportions, as he claimed to have slept with over 20,000 women in his biography, A View From Above.) Although he played himself in a number of TV shows, including The Commish (1991), he only starred in one film. Nevertheless, it was a big one, as he went one-on-one with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1984 sequel to Conan the Barbarian -- Conan the Destroyer -- playing the club-swinging Bombaata.
Died: October 12, 1999 [age 63]
Gheorghe Muresan -- 7'7"
Muresan is a Romanian professional basketball player who dominated Europe before coming stateside to play in the NBA. His career was cut short due to injuries, but he did manage to win the league’s Most Improved Player award for the 1995-96 season before retiring in 2000. His list of acting credits only consists of three roles (according to IMDb), but one was a starring turn in the 1998 buddy comedy My Giant opposite Billy Crystal. He also starred in various commercials and became a pop culture icon playing a ventriloquist controlling a dummified Slim Shady in Eminem’s 1998 breakthrough video -- the triple-platinum “My Name Is.”
John Aasen --7'2"
This 7-foot-2 actor’s name is most likely familiar to no one, but he happens to be one of the first successful tall actors from the early days of cinema. He starred opposite legendary comedian Harold Lloyd in a number of different films in the 1920s and '30s and played the role of Colosso in his feature film debut, the classic Lloyd comedy Why Worry, which also happened to be one of the top-grossing films of 1923.
Died: August 1, 1938 [age 48]
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar -- 7'2"
The retired basketball pro (seen here with Hillary Clinton) is an accomplished actor with 20-plus film and TV roles to his credit, including a role in the TV miniseries adaptation of Stephen King’s The Stand. Abdul-Jabbar had a recurring role in the recently canceled NBC sitcom Guys With Kids and competed in the ABC celebrity diving show, Splash. His biggest role was in the 1980 Zucker brothers comedy, Airplane!, where he played co-pilot Roger Murdoch – who might or might not have been Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Peter Mayhew -- 7'2"
Earlier this month, 69-year-old super-tall actor Peter Mayhew underwent successful surgery in a Texas hospital to have both of his knees replaced. If the name Peter Mayhew doesn’t ring any bells, maybe the role he helped make famous might: Mayhew was the man in the Wookiee suit -- he played Chewbacca in all three films of the original trilogy as well as a brief reprise in 2005’s Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.
Kevin Peter Hall -- 7'2"
Like Mayhew, he spent most of his film career as the “man behind the latex mask.” In a quote from a 1991 interview, Hall said, “I’m more than just a guy in a suit. When people want big and a performance along with that ‘big,’ I’m the guy that they call.” Like Wilt the Stilt before him, Hall went toe-to-toe with Arnold Schwarzenegger in Predator. He reprised his role in the sequel, this time facing off against Danny Glover. He's also known for his sympathetic portrayal of Bigfoot in 1987’s Harry and the Hendersons.
Died: April 10, 1991 [age 35]
Matthew McGrory -- 7'6"
McGrory is listed in the Guinness World Records as the human with the largest shoe size at 29½. Before hitting the big screen, he was a guest on both Howard Stern’s and Oprah Winfrey’s TV talk shows. He started out with appearances in music videos for such acts as Iron Maiden, Marilyn Manson and Blondie. However, his breakout role was in Rob Zombie’s 2003 cult horror flick House of 1000 Corpses, in which he played Tiny -- the childlike member of the violent and dysfunctional Firefly clan. His biggest mainstream role was Karl the Giant in Tim Burton’s 2003 fantasy tale, Big Fish.
Died: August 9, 2005 [age 32]
Richard Kiel -- 7'1"
A former bouncer and cemetery plot salesman, his breakthrough film role came in the 1974 Burt Reynolds film The Longest Yard. However, his biggest break came in 1977 when he was hired to go up against James Bond himself, as the metal-mouthed baddie Jaws in The Spy Who Loved Me. He reprised the role in 1979’s Moonraker and is still thought of as one of 007’s most formidable foes. He also became known to a whole new generation as Mr. Larson in the 1997 Adam Sandler vehicle Happy Gilmore, where he tormented the titular character’s nemesis Shooter McGavin.
Shaquille O'Neal -- 7'1"
The NBA pro made his feature debut in 1994’s Blue Chips -- William Friedkin’s ode to corruption in college hoops -- playing a (you guessed it) basketball recruit named Neon. This started a small “Shaq-splosion” in Hollywood, with O’Neal toplining a couple of films in the mid-1990s, although neither was a hit. He played a genie in 1996’s Kazaam and a little-known superhero in 1997’s Steel. He then reinvented himself as a comedic actor, making guest appearances in an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm as well as in 2006’s Scary Movie 4. This past summer, he donned a “half-ro” as Officer Fluzoo in Grown Ups 2 and lent his voice to the character of Smooth Smurf in The Smurfs 2.