This weekend is the first Wizard World comic-con for the city of Pittsburgh, PA. What’cha Reading had the opportunity to attend and speak with The Incredible Hulk himself, Mr. Lou Ferrigno. As much as Lou Ferrigno may appear to be a larger than life icon, one of the first talents in modern times to bring superheroes to the forefront, he’s rather quiet, a humble yet proud gentleman. Yet he still looks ready to embody The Hulk at a moments notice. Mr. Lou Ferrigno was our first stop at Wizard World Pittsburgh and while our time with him was limited, he was gracious enough to schedule us before any of his numerous fans began lining up for a photo and autograph. While we did touch on his days playing the Incredible counterpart to the late Bill Bixby, Mr. Ferrigno was quite eager to speak about bodybuilding as well. Here is A Chat with Lou Ferrigno.
What’cha Reading: Hello Mr. Ferrigno. I’m Steven and with What’cha Reading. We’re a comic news and entertainment site.
Lou Ferrigno: Oh. Sure. Okay.
What’cha Reading: I have to say that first and foremost I’m 26 and while I grew up right outside of The Incredible Hulk airing on television, that was my first introduction to superheroes. You were the first person to introduce me to The Incredible Hulk and Marvel Comics.
Lou Ferrigno: Oh thank you.
What’cha Reading: In many ways you took a one dimensional character and brought him to life in a very two dimensional way. I wanted to ask you about your experience with The Hulk being such an iconic character and such an iconic part of your long and storied career. Do you have any particular memories that stand out?
Lou Ferrigno: Well I had a lot of fame with celebrities that came and visited me on the set like Cary Grant. Because when the show went into its second and third season everybody embraced it in all parts of the world. It was amazing at how iconic the character became.
What’cha Reading: It must be incredible when you have that reaction, especially with someone like Cary Grant coming to visit you!
Lou Ferrigno: Oh yeah because at the beginning I couldn’t even walk down the street. I couldn’t even cover my face because the way I walk – The Hulk walk so they’d scream “There’s The Hulk! There’s The Hulk!” It was fun and incredible.
What’cha Reading: The late Leonard Nimoy wrote a book “I Am Not Mr. Spock.” I know that was [at the time]his response to distance himself from the role and I know in retrospect that he went on to realize that that wasn’t necessarily the best choice and went on to love the character and love the fans. Did you ever have any moments where you felt that you wished that you could step away from The Hulk?
Lou Ferrigno: Never.
Lou Ferrigno: There are a lot of actors that do tv series and fall by the wayside and disappear. But The Hulk was a part of me getting into the show business and I’ve done over 4o films and they still identify me with The Hulk and I welcome that type cast. That’s why I do the voice in The Avengers and it’s more popular than ever. I mean I just love it.
What’cha Reading: It’s great and it’s really exciting when we see you in the cameo for the 2008 film [The Incredible Hulk], to still be doing the voice work for The Hulk. What’s the difference between doing the voice work for, let’s say, the 90’s animated series and even the films, as opposed to actually being painted green, and becoming The Hulk?
Lou Ferrigno: Well playing the character is hard because of the makeup situation. I love being the character. The voice is different because you’re by yourself and you’re not interacting with anybody. You’re just projecting your voice so it’s kind of putting the icing on the cake.
What’cha Reading: Did you feel that you were able to bring anything differently in terms of voice work and live action?
Lou Ferrigno: Yes because I know how The Hulk thinks and feels. That’s why hearing my voice people instinctively identify me. “That’s Lou Ferrigno.” Because the CGI is not quite like the human Hulk so having the voice gave some sensitivity to it.
What’cha Reading: Absolutely. I know that yourself and your voice and your stature screams The Hulk to me. I’m also a huge fan of bodybuilding.
Lou Ferrigno: Are you?
What’cha Reading: I am and in many ways it was you and Mr. Arnold Schwarzenegger were the first two people to bring that sport, that lifestyle, that commitment to life for so many people. And you really put that on the map.
Lou Ferrigno: Still the two of us. Still today there’s still only the two of us.
What’cha Reading: Absolutely. Now you’re still very involved with the bodybuilding and fitness circuit. I know that you had the Ferrigno Legacy show…
Lou Ferrigno: Yeah, we’re going to have the second one in Palm Springs [FL] this year. It was very successful so we’re happy to have a second show in Palm Springs. The response has been incredible.
What’cha Reading: That’s your second show [Ferrigno Legacy] in Palm Springs. And what’s the date for that?
Lou Ferrigno: November 20th.
What’cha Reading: November 20th.
Lou Ferrigno: The IFBB/NPC Ferrigno Legacy on November 20th is a bodybuilding and fitness and figure championship.
What’cha Reading: Have you been in support of many of the changes that have been made such as the addition of the Physique Class?
Lou Ferrigno: Oh yeah because you have guys competing today and they were shorts. They don’t have to be bodybuilders. Today it’s also more sports fitness and figure now instead of just bodybuilding because the public embraces that more.
What’cha Reading: So you prefer…
Lou Ferrigno: Yeah. I mean bodybuilding will always be there.
What’cha Reading: Sure and I hope it is because it’s one of those sports that, in many ways, shows us the true artistry of the human body, in many ways akin to super heroes. The iconography of it is almost mythological. Have there been any particular competitors for both men and women that you feel represent the sport in a great way and feel are carrying it on?
Lou Ferrigno: Well you have figure and bikini competitors now so we have a combination with more beauty involved than just bodybuilding so now we have a mixture of different flavors which varies the competition and has a big appeal.
What’cha Reading: Again, you’re so well known within the bodybuilding community and circuit. It’s really you being the face of it and the name of it. Now you’ve also played The Hulk and you’d think that the comic community and the fitness/bodybuilding community would be very different. Have you found there to be differences in the people that approach you, more so the fandom?
Lou Ferrigno: No because they both embrace it because now with bodybuilding you have The Rock and Sylvester Stallone, you have Arnold. So now everybody wants to be buff, for example you have Brad Pitt doing a film, Hugh Jackman so now it’s all a collaboration now.
What’cha Reading: I think that’s very interesting because now you see how more people are turning to that.
Lou Ferrigno: Exactly which is a good thing because everybody wants to be like a super hero.
What’cha Reading: I wanted again to thank you so much for your time.
Lou Ferrigno: Thank you.
What’cha Reading: I just wanted to ask if you have anything else coming up. Any thing you’d like to mention?
Lou Ferrigno: I just finished a movie in England. I was there for five weeks. It’s called “Instant Death.” It’s an action film kind of like “Taken” about a guy who was in the special forces who seeks revenge because his family was harmed. It’s going to be stuff you’ve never seen before, especially with the fighting and acting. I think you’ll be surprised.
What’cha Reading: Can’t wait to see it. Can’t wait to see it.
Lou Ferrigno: Thanks again. Enjoy the show.