SALT LAKE CITY — The original Hulk isn’t scary.
Lou Ferrigno, who portrayed the big green guy in “The Incredible Hulk” TV series from 1977-1981, spoke with the Deseret News ahead of his appearance at the FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention, Thursday-Saturday, Sept. 6-9.
Ferrigno, although built with muscle and known for portraying a green terror, was nothing but smiles and warmth during his brief interview with the Deseret News.
Ferrigno’s resume is as well-built as he is. As a professional bodybuilder, he won the International Federation of Bodybuilding's Mr. America title in 1969, as well as two consecutive IFBB Mr. Universe titles. He trained with Arnold Schwarzenegger and appeared in the 1977 documentary "Pumping Iron," all before landing the role that would define him, that of Bruce Banner's angry alter ego on the popular TV show "The Incredible Hulk." Ferringo also played the title roles in the TV shows "Sinbad of the Seven Seas" and "Hercules," and more recently, appeared on the CBS sitcom "The King of Queens" and in the 2009 movie "I Love You, Man" with Jason Segel and Paul Rudd.
But for all of Ferrigno's success, he struggled as a boy, according to his website. He suffered 75 percent hearing loss as a toddler due to an undiagnosed illness and dealt with bullies in his Brooklyn, New York, elementary school. These days, the actor and retired bodybuilder is working on a new reality TV show, which Ferrigno describes as "like 'Celebrity Apprentice' but with business." He also works as a deputy sheriff in L.A., a job that he's done for 15 years to "give back to society," he said.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Deseret News: How often you go to conventions?
Lou Ferrigno: I do what I can because of filming, (but) I enjoy going. You know, it's a good thing. It’s a good chance to meet good people. More than anything, the fans are important to me. … It’s fun to meet people from all over the world.
DN: What question do fans ask you the most?
LF: They like to know about the makeup. They like to talk about how the Hulk affected their life (and) how much they liked the show. Every (episode of "The Incredible Hulk") had a (lesson) about life. The show had nothing to do with drugs, sex or violence. And (the) show pioneered (the superhero shows) you (see) today.
At the time, "Captain America" (and) "Spider-Man" all failed. But "The (Incredible) Hulk" was successful. (Maybe it's because) all the other superheroes wore costumes.
DN: How do you feel about your legacy as the Hulk?
LF: I do a lot of public speaking. It gives you a great heart, a great adrenaline charge. (People) get excited because there’s only one Hulk. They come to the convention to meet the original Hulk — the real Hulk. … I'm not the type of guy that wants to sit home and just look at the TV. I'm a workhorse.
I enjoy coming to conventions … in different states (and) different countries, but this specific show is so special because they … keep getting bigger and bigger.
I managed to come back to this convention because there’s always a lot more fans that (have) never attended the convention before. You have people from all walks of life wearing costumes. I mean, it could be your lawyer, your doctor, you don't know. (It) play(s) with your imagination.
DN: Are you involved in any way with the current Avengers Marvel Universe? Do you consult with them at all?
LF: Not really, but sometimes I'd meet them at different parties — I know the head of Marvel. But since Disney bought it they (are going) in a different direction. … But I’m pushing now because I want to be in the next “Avengers” film.
DN: Is there ever a celebrity that you wish you run when you attend a convention?
LF: Sean Connery … because I've always wanted to emulate him. He was a real superhero.