Lou Ferrigno Actor (TV's "The Hulk") / Bodybuilder
Detroit Motor City Comic Con - Detroit, MI - 2001
 
The Detroit Motor City Comic Con came to town and celebrities of all sorts were in attendance. I was busting my hump trying to get to the media/press thing on time, but a massive rain storm slowed me down a little. But I eventually made it in time to conduct a few interviews.
 
When I arrived, Valerie the publicity relations lady for the Comic Con was waiting for me and pointed me to Lou Ferrigno and stated that he was waiting to be interviewed. I pulled out the recorder, put in some new batteries and off I went with the questions. Lou extended his powerful hand to shake with me and then sat down for the interview.
 
Lou is a towering 6' 5" and massive 275 pounds of human steel, to say he is a tad intimidating is an understatement. As soon as Lou speaks though, you realize that he is a very caring and compassionate human not to be confused with the Hulk... the character he is most associated with. Even though there are similarities with Lou and the Hulk - they're both big and intimidating - the differences are obvious.
 
The fact that Lou has overcame some major disabilities -like losing 85% of his hearing- and is still able to be a popular celebrity speaks for itself. A nicer guy would be hard to find. The interview went like this 

K2K: How did you go from weight lifting to getting the part of the Hulk?
LF: After the movie "Pumping Iron" I moved to California to train for the Mr. Olympia competition in body building and they were holding auditions for the Hulk. I was excited to hear about it because I knew I wanted to play the character, so I went down for the audition and it changed my whole life.
 
K2K: How did you like the green paint/make-up you had to wear?
LF: I didn't like it because it was very uncomfortable. I knew before I did the series because Bill Bixby told me it was going to be very uncomfortable. We're talking about three hours in preparation with the face make-up and the body, especially being retouched all day. I had to sit down with my arms outstretched, so it was something I learned to deal with and had to focus on and got used to it. Even though I loved to act and I loved doing the show, the great thing was when the make-up was completed I really became the Hulk. People loved watching me.
 
K2K: So you became the Hulk?
LF: Yes, but I couldn't see myself and I wondered why people got so excited on the set. Every time I did a scene the crew would clap, everyone would get so excited. I was happy to just take out the eyes and I just wanted to rest. I'm sure if I was able to see myself I probably would appreciate it even more.
 
K2K: Do you have any hobbies?
LF: Yes, I love to get involved in playing golf and I do a lot of sporting class in shooting at skeet. My favorite hobby is -I have a business facility in Santa Monica, California- one-on-one training, I love changing peoples bodies. I enjoy being a motivational speaker too.
 
K2K: Do you own World Gym?
LF: No. I train at World Gym and I train at Gold's Gym, but I'm usually a spokesperson for World Gym.
 
K2K: When did you first get involved in pumping iron and body building?
LF: I got into body building at the age of twelve because of a low self esteem. I was very introverted as a child and I lost about 85% of my hearing at a young age because of a virus, so I couldn't speak and couldn't hear. I got involved in body building and I learned to be best of friends with my body and I realized I could use it as a vehicle for myself to succeed.
 
K2K: How have you overcame your hearing disorder?
LF: I wear two hearing aids and I've learned to read lips to maximize my hearing, basically I've done pretty well with it.
 
K2K: Did kids pick on you a lot when you were younger because of your disability?
LF: Yes. I was ridiculed and made fun of, you know children can be cruel. By todays standards I've gone through the same things as a kid that I did as an adult. I've just learned to deal with it because I would take it very personal. That's why I got into body building, I took all my anger out on the weights, it made me feel good, it was very therapeutic for me.
 
K2K: It's great that you overcame your disabilities and made something of yourself. Do you talk to high school kids to motivate them and remind them not to pick on one another?
LF: I've done that from time to time. I do motivational speeches at colleges. See, everyone is handicapped in one way or another, so everyone has inner frustrations and anger. So I use myself as an example because I have a book out and it's on the internet on the Lou Ferrigno website (www.louferrigno.com). People use that as a tool because of what I've done with my life, everybody has to be affected as well, now they can change the negative to a positive, because all of us have different kinds of problems. But I like to teach people how to learn to maximize what you have. To maximize yourself is really all you can do.
 
K2K: How many books have you written?
LF: Two.
 
K2K: When were they released?
LF: One came out in 1980 (The Incredible Lou Ferrigno) and the other came out about four years ago (Lou Ferrigno's Guide to Personal Power, Bodybuilding and Fitness for Everyone). The newest one is available on www.louferrigno.com.
 
K2K: Do you have any favorite books you've read?
LF: Yes. I enjoyed reading about Abraham Lincoln. I love reading about him and find it interesting that he became a lawyer from such a humble beginning.
 
K2K: If you could go back in history and meet anyone you wanted to, who would it be?
LF: Clark Gable. He was a passionate guy and I really would like to have met him, he was like a king.
 
K2K: So does that mean that Clark Gable was your all time favorite actor?
LF: Yeah!
 
K2K: Are there any autographs of people you've collected?
LF: Only one person - I never ask anybody for their autograph - Mickey Mantle just before he died, before he got sick. I was embarrassed. I went up in front of everybody and said, "I'm sorry sir." and he said, "How you doing?" I said, "I'd love to have your autograph. My kid's with me but it's really for me." I love Mickey Mantle because he was a great sports figure."
 
K2K: Did he give you his autograph?
LF: Yes. He gave me a picture and everything. I had a picture taken with him, it's on a wall next to my desk.
 
K2K: Have you ever met any president?
LF: Yes. President Clinton. I met him a couple of times and enjoyed meeting him.
 
K2K: Was he a nice guy?
LF: Yes. Besides his personal stuff -I don't know what he'd done- I enjoyed meeting him because to me he was a great charmer and he had a great persona about him.
 
K2K: Did he seem like a regular guy?
LF: Yeah. He loved the Hollywood scene. He really liked actors so that made everything more comfortable.
 
K2K: What were some of your favorite moments in the movie "Pumping Iron?"
LF: That I was able to be on stage with Arnold at the time because he was about on the verge of retiring, so I was happy to be up there with him and share the limelight.
 
K2K: You two were basically competing with one another.
LF: Yes, that was our last competition
 
K2K: Do you keep in touch with Arnold?
LF: I see him once or twice a year, he's very busy... we still reminisce about the old times.
 
K2K: Do you have a good relationship with one another?
LF: Yes.
 
K2K: Who would be one of your main influences in life that you used for inspiration?
LF: I would say when I was very young it would have a lot to do with my father because he had a great physique. He was built like steel and I really wanted to emulate him.
 
K2K: What did your father do for a living?
LF: He's a retired police Lieutenant.
 
K2K: What odd jobs did you have before you got into acting/
LF: I spent four years as an apprentice with sheet metal and became a sheet metal journeyman and was a machinist as well before that.
 
K2K: what is it about you that people don't know and you wished they did?
LF: That I'm a much more sensitive and nicer person than people think I am. A lot of people like me and I'm sensitive about that. I really don't have a dark side to myself. A lot of people have a dark side but basically I'm down to earth. I don't have an ego to try and be different.
 
K2K: You don't seem to be egotistical.
LF: No. Because of where I came from and the life I lived, I don't think that anyone is any better than anyone else, I just don't like egomaniacs. Money, power and fame to me is nothing, everyone is the same. That's the way it is. Look at the way the Hulk was treated, he was really a creature.
 
K2K: Could you relate to that?
LF: Yes, because I was the Hulk my whole life. Because of my sensitivity I was able to show through the make-up and make the character famous and people could relate to that.
 
K2K: Well you did a great job as the Hulk.
LF: Thank you.
 
K2K: Are there any upcoming acting roles for you in the near future?
LF: I'm supposed to be doing a movie with Dennis Quaid in June and also I'm doing a new Hulk film directed by Ang Lee, it starts shooting in March of next year.
 
K2K: Did you ever meet Stan Lee?
LF: Yes. I see Stan all the time.
 
K2K: Do you have a favorite car?
LF: Car? I'm not much into automobiles but my favorite car today would be the new Lexus. I drive a pickup truck but I love the Lexus because it's very comfortable.
 
K2K: What kind of truck do you drive?
LF: A Ford pickup truck. I'm gonna probably get an Expedition because I'm always transporting things. I'm a big guy and I want to be safe.
 
K2K: Are there any actors you've met that you were excited about meeting?
LF: One of them I was excited about meeting happened by accident. I was in my trailer during the second season of the Hulk and someone knocked on the door. The door opened and a guy with gray hair came in wearing dark black glasses with a kid beside him and said "excuse me, my nephew's here from England, could he pose for a picture with you, my name is Cary Grant?" I swear to you I thought I was going to faint. I could not speak, then he said "is it ok?" I couldn't speak, I was the Hulk, I couldn't talk. I was so blown away, I mean just him and me in the trailer. I mean Cary Grant came to my motor home. The only person who could top that today would be Sean Connery.
 
K2K: Did you ever get to meet Sean Connery?
LF: No. But I've always wanted to.
 
K2K: Do you like signing autographs for your fans?
LF: Yes. Very much because it gives me a real close contact with the fan. These are the people that make my show, these are the people that come to the show, these are the people that watch the show and they're the ones who I really want to pay attention to because without these fans I wouldn't be where I am.
 
K2K: Is there any particular music you like or listen to?
LF: I really like country music. I like Garth Brooks.
 
K2K: Do you have any kids?
LF: Yes, three. I have a daughter twenty years old, she's into acting and two boys sixteen and eleven.
 
K2K: What do the boys like to do?
LF: They want to be football players. They love football, I think that's great and I support them.
 
K2K: Do you work out with them?
LF: Sometimes. My one son is stronger than I was at sixteen.
 
K2K: Did you start your kids out pumping iron when they were young or did you let them choose their own course?
LF: I didn't push them to go into body building. When I was young and got involved I had nothing to work out with, I had to make my own stuff. I have the best equipment in the world now so the kids get to use it. They don't know where I came from, so I'm going to share that with them.
 
K2K: Did you ever help to develop new body building equipment?
LF: There is a lot of new equipment but one thing that will never be replaced is refining or modifying barbells and dumbbells - they do make them more solid now though. Nothing takes the place of weight training, a machine is only 25% of bodybuilding or weight lifting but it's nothing like good barbells or dumbbells .
 
K2K: So do you prefer the older equipment to the new equipment?
LF: Some of it. I have some of the pieces from many years ago from the movie "Pumping Iron." I have the original standing calf machine. Somebody had it in their back yard and I now have it and am going to paint it next weekend and put it in my gym because it's an original piece that a lot of famous people used. It brings back a lot of history. It has a lot to do with what you put into it not really what you have or the fancy stuff.
 
K2K: So did you help to engineer or modify any new equipment?
LF: I worked with a company to improve the designs on some equipment and have made some changes.
 
K2K: What's your favorite part of weight training?
LF: My favorite part of the training is that when I work out- like when I do chest work- I like to prepare so that everytime I use the weight, I use the same reps but I increase the weight, then I can handle the same amount of weight I did twenty years ago. I really love pumping iron because it makes me feel strong. I'm not one of those guys who has to be thin for film bits because this is who I am. I like being a live action hero.
 
K2K: How many times a week do you work out?
LF: Five to six days a week. I train four days in a row and take the fifth day off.
 
K2K: Do you alternate working out different parts of your body on certain days?
LF: Day one I do chest and back, the second day I'll do biceps and triceps, day number three I concentrate on the legs, day number four the shoulders, then I rest the fifth day.
 
K2K: What about cardiovascular training?
LF: I do that three or four times a week after the workout.
 
K2K: On your day off, do you take it completely off?
LF: Yes. Completely, you need a rest.
 
K2K: What does your diet consist of?
LF: Balanced diet. I have meat, fish, eggs, fruit and vegetables. I eat proteins every meal. I like to keep my calories to maybe 3,700 a day. I eat how I feel but I don't over indulge with sweets or anything like that. I don't eat that much.
 
K2K: What do you think of bench pressing?
LF: I don't believe in the bench press, I believe doing dumbbells because in dumbbells you control the movement. The problem when you do bench press is if the shoulder goes off it throws you, you have to be very careful, you don't want to jerk.
 
K2K: Do you swim?
LF: Sometimes... rarely.
 
K2K: Do you have any pets?
LF: Yes. We just got a pug about two months ago. It's half Maltese and half poodle. It's very funny when I'm holding the pug (starts laughing) - he looks like Michael Jackson - because I'm so big and it's so small. A big guy like me walking this little thing down the street.
 
K2K: What did you name it?
LF: Bandit.
 
And that was it. I had other interviews to conduct and Lou had to go to his table and sign autographs and pose for pictures with his adoring fans. We posed for a couple of photos and off he went. A very nice guy indeed.
 
Written by Donrad

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