THE BIG ASK
EVER SINCE he burst on to TV screens 30 years ago as The Incredible Hulk, champion body-builder Lou Ferrigno’s love affair with the jolly green giant has shown no signs of slowing down. What brings you to Australia? I’m coming out for the big (pop culture expo) show Supanova. I’m excited about it because I’ll get a chance to meet the fans. It’s an exciting event for Melbourne. Is meeting your fans at these types of events something you enjoy? I do the big shows in Europe and the US but I’ve never done one Down Under so I’m excited because it gives me a chance to mingle with them and talk about the Hulk series. It’s a real treat, especially for the diehard fans who have been with me for the past 35 or 40 years. Have you been to Australia before? About 13 years ago. I guest posed in a body-building competition. Despite having done a lot in your career, do you find you are still best known as the Incredible Hulk? Yes. I’m involved with the Hulk movie coming out in June. I’m excited because the legacy continues. Is bearing the mantle of Hulk a blessing or a curse? Everybody identifies with him. I’ve played the Hulk my whole life, so I’m very close to the character. I enjoy it because he’s a good guy and he fights evil. Superheroes attract people today because of power, especially the Hulk because of the way he looks and with his muscles. I had always aspired to be a bodybuilding champion because my dream since I was 12 was to one day play the Hulk. How did you get the role? It came about when I was training for the Mr Olympia competition. There was a big guy before me, more than 213cm tall, named Richard Kiel, who was playing the Hulk and they realised he wasn’t built like the Hulk.
So they did a nationwide search and had me go down for the screen test and act and look like the Hulk. It was the right time and place and I started work the next day. What do Hulk fans ask you? They want to know about the makeup, how long the process takes, how long the episodes were, did I do all my own stunt work. We still had the old-fashioned special-effects and that’s why it raises questions today. Did you do your own stunts? I did 99 per cent— everything apart from jumping out of windows. That was done by a stunt double because I’m afraid of heights. Was it fun playing the Hulk? It was a fantastic role. I never liked the make-up, but I loved the character because it gave me a chance to experiment and learn about acting. Are you often recognised as the Hulk in public? All the time. Because being a famous body-builder and having been on TV, everybody knows me. You’ve worked hard to be taken seriously as an actor. Has the Hulk made it harder to get other roles? It did typecast me, but I didn’t mind because it made me famous. A lot of people who have TV series are forgotten, but it gave me the chance to break out from the character. That’s why I am doing comedy because it is something different. Some people get typecast one way or another, but I’m happy to be involved with the new Hulk movie because it continues the legacy today. Do you still work out every day? I work out for an hour and a half to keep in shape. I’m still 122.5kg, still in great shape like I used to look. I’m also a personal trainer. What was it like to train Michael Jackson? He came to me because he wanted privacy and wanted to change his eating habits. I’ve seen everyone.