Lou Ferrigno on being green: ‘Nobody could play the Hulk like I could’

Aug. 31, 2013 | 9:00 a.m.

Say, Lou Ferrigno, did you happen to have any interesting celebrity encounters back when you were starring opposite Bill Bixby on “The Incredible Hulk” TV show?

“When I was doing the third season of the show, I was sitting in my trailer in full makeup and there’s a knock on the door. An older guy walks in with glasses and gray hair and a kid with him. He said, ‘My name is Cary Grant — can I please take a picture with you?’ I was floored.”

Decades might have passed since Ferrigno’s encounter with the legendary actor, but for many fans, Ferrigno, in all his massive, green-body-paint glory, remains the physical manifestation of Marvel’s big mean machine. The character looms large for the actor as well.

“It began with me as the Hulk,” Ferrigno said in an interview with Hero Complex. “I was the first to bring superhero muscles to the screen and to make it more believable. There’s still people who prefer to watch the old show over the newer things because it’s real, not CGI.”

"The Incredible Hulk" series on CBS ended after 82 episodes but it continued to echo with made-for TV sequels -- including the May 1988 one that provided this photo op for  Eric Kramer (in the role of Thor), left, with Stan Lee and Lou Ferrigno (Nick Ut/AP Photo)

“The Incredible Hulk” series on CBS ended after 82 episodes but it continued to echo with made-for-TV movie sequels — including the May 1988 one that provided this photo op for Eric Kramer (in the role of Thor), left, with Stan Lee and Lou Ferrigno. (Nick Ut / AP Photo)

A bodybuilder who was influenced by Stan Lee’s and Jack Kirby’s creation long before he lifted a barbell, Ferrigno has been seen over the years in numerous episodes of “The King of Queens,” has appeared on stage and recently wrapped a role in the upcoming “The Scorpion King” film with Rutger Hauer, among others. He even fought real crime as a reserve deputy sheriff in Los Angeles for almost a decade.

Yet Ferrigno said it’s been the Hulk that’s brought him some of his greatest moments professionally.

“The truth is, I’ve been the Hulk my whole life,” he said. “The Hulk was the beginning of me, a platform as an actor to grow. I don’t think anybody else can play the Hulk like I could. I was able to show emotions even with all of the makeup. I don’t think it can be duplicated.”

For Joss Whedon’s 2012 hit “The Avengers,” Ferrigno provided the voice of the CG-rendered Hulk, even calling Tom Hiddleston’s Loki a “puny god” at one point.

He’s still acting in other projects in addition to promoting healthy lifestyles through his FerrignoFit.com site. (Marvel icon Stan Lee will help induct Ferrigno into the Muscle Beach Hall of Fame on Monday.)

Asked about the character’s enduring appeal, Ferrigno responded: “He’s green, so every nationality embraces the Hulk. He’s angry, and everyone can relate to that and wish that they could throw a car around sometimes.

“The greatest thing of all, though, is that it continues generation after generation.”

— Jevon Phillips

Follow us on Twitter: @LATHeroComplex


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10 Responses to Lou Ferrigno on being green: ‘Nobody could play the Hulk like I could’

  1. johnrj08 says:

    Lou Ferrigno did NOT voice the Hulk's dialogue, "Puny god" in "The Avengers". That line was recorded by Mark Ruffalo, the actor who played Bruce Banner in the film. It is clearly Ruffalo's voice, even though it was distorted to sound deeper and 'bigger'. Ferrigno did record a lot of the Hulk's roaring in the film, but he can't do dialogue because of his speech impairment. I'm surprised that he would claim he recorded that line from the film. The only reason Ferrigno has been in the Hulk films is because of his long friendship with Stan Lee, who also appears in all of them. I'm not here to bash Ferrigno as a person, but the fact is, the only reason he got the role of the Hulk in the first place was because of his physical size.

    • Musdan77 says:

      Well, you started out well. Your first point was correct; everything else, not so much. Yes, he didn't do the dialogue (I don't think he ever claimed he did), and he did do part of the growling. You're wrong that he couldn't do actual speaking for the Hulk because he had previously on The Incredible Hulk 1996 animated TV series. The reason he was in the Hulk films is because the producers and writers were fans, and they knew that fans would want to see/hear him. And there were other big guys up for the role, but he won it because he showed that he could do it.

  2. huddy says:

    Ferrigno was the best Hulk, PERIOD!

  3. No one plays Billy like Lou Ferrigno.

  4. franco says:

    lou ferrigno will always be the hulk,no matter what people say.Roaring,talking,smiling or whatever if you watched the hulk series he does it all. Ive been a great fan of the hulk since being a skinny kid myself but growing up ive managed to build up my own body and playing rugby league,boxing and gridiron.So im so grateful that I grew up in the era of the hulk and out of all the other tv programmes that were on like knightrider,buckrogers,lucan,bionic man,wonderwoman,man from atlantis,dukes of hazard and so on nobody impressed me more than the hulk ferrigno. I loved the ripping of the shirt and the transformation with bill was awesome. You couldn't forget those bulging muscles cause they were real but anyway lou ferrigno will remain in my heart the one true hulk.

  5. Vincent De La Rosa says:

    Lou Ferrigno is the #1 reason why my #1 Marvel superhero is the Hulk. I even have an autographed picture of Lou as the Hulk

  6. Starr Hamm says:

    Lou is the best and original Hulk..undeniable but his beast like sounds were made by Ted Cassidy (Lurch) from The Adams Family at least until he passed

  7. peggy says:

    my son has downs syndrome. he is forty four years old; he has been a fan for many many years . incrediable hulk is his favorite hero / he always wears hulk shirts . his favorite color is green /of course. he likes the old shows best .he loves lou ferrino and bill bixb. his room is filled with hulk figures.every one calls him tony hulk, your true fan forver / tony the hulk

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