Lou Ferrigno, the Original Incredible Hulk, at Rhode Island Comic Con this Weekend

By Jason Harris

Lou Ferrigno.

Lou Ferrigno. Photo by Jason Harris.

Lou Ferrigno, the original Incredible Hulk, is in town for the fourth Rhode Island Comic Con, which starts this afternoon and runs until Sunday, November 8. We sat down at the Dunkin Donuts Center to talk about bodybuilding, the Incredible Hulk, and being the personal trainer for Michael Jackson.

Ferrigno discovered weight training 52 years ago at the age of 12, he said.

“When I was a kid, I was really skinny. I was just obsessed with power. I wanted to be powerful. I discovered weight training and I knew it would make me feel good about myself.”

Ferrigno wanted to be a hero like Hercules. He would watch old Hercules movies, then want to be a modern day gladiator or some other heroic character from the movies or comic books.

“I would fantasize about being the Hulk because of the way I was built.”

One day, he received a phone call about auditioning for the role, which at the time was being played by Richard Kiel. Kiel played the character of Jaws in two James Bond movies. The reason behind the switch was because director Kenneth Johnson’s son was on set one day and said Kiel didn’t look like the Hulk in the comic books, Ferrigno said. They contacted hundreds of people, including him, to audition.

“They called me, I went down for the screen test and immediately they hired me. And the next day, I was filming. In 48 hours, I went from bodybuilding to show business.”

Everything he did for the role came naturally to him, Ferrigno said.

“When I did the pilot, I used a lot of the animalistic behavior the way the character should be.”

One of his favorite moments on The Incredible Hulk was meeting Cary Grant, who came to the set with his nephew to get a picture taken with him.

“I was excited because he was one of the top movie stars in the world. That was one of my exciting moments because of the fact I was well respected.”

Ferrigno enjoyed working with Bill Bixby, who he considered “a very talented actor.” He was a fan of Bixby’s television shows The Courtship of Eddie’s Father and The Magician.

“I learned a lot from him. He was an icon. I was excited to learn from him and watch him.”

Ferrigno’s portrayal of the Incredible Hulk ended in 1990 with television movie, The Death of the Incredible Hulk, but he has continued with the character by voicing him in the UPN cartoon and in the current Marvel movies that started with The Incredible Hulk in 2008. The job was given to him after the director heard him say “Hulk crash” and “Hulk smash” at New York Comic Con seven to nine years ago, he said.

In the last few years, Ferrigno has been on Celebrity Apprentice and in an episode of Star Trek Continues.

“It was great because you’re on a show with a bunch of egos, celebrities,” Ferrigno said about Celebrity Apprentice. “I’m glad I raised 100,000 for my charity [the Muscular Dystrophy Association]. It taught me what it’s like to be with other celebrities. It was fun, but the hardest thing was no one wanted to be fired so you’re forced to look at other people’s faults. That was tough.”

Ferrigno did mention that “Donald Trump is a loose cannon.”

“I was very tense because you’re in the boardroom three times a week. You have to be careful how you conduct yourself. So with me, they were afraid of me, because when we were in the boardroom I just spoke my mind.”

Ferrigno has always been a fan of the original Star Trek so he was happy to play slave trader Zaminhon on Star Trek Continues when Vic Mignogna asked him. He wasn’t happy with the makeup, which took five hours to apply, he said.

“I knew I wanted to play [the character] because it was against type. I enjoyed playing that character.”

His upcoming movie Instant Death will be released next April. You will see him do things in the movie that audiences have never seen him do before, he said.

“I would say it’s my best work ever.”

Along with his acting, he continues giving advice about being a person’s own personal trainer at his website here or being a personal trainer to stars like Chuck Norris and Mickey Rourke. He was also Michael Jackson’s personal trainer for 20 years, which came about because he was a good friend of Jackson’s doctor.

“He learned a lot from me and I learned a lot from him,” Ferrigno said about Jackson.

You can meet Ferrigno at Rhode Island Comic Con this weekend. Find out more about the convention here.

The Sex Appeal of ‘Style Icons’

By Stacey Longo

Style Icons

Style Icons, Volume I: Golden Boys (2014, Createspace Independent Publishing Platform) is the first in a series of coffee table books from Fashion Industry Broadcast, written by Paul G. Roberts. In this volume, the series examines the sex appeal of some major Hollywood actors of the 20th century.

The selection of actors offered is diverse and clearly carefully chosen. From the brooding handsomeness of Brando to the swashbuckling sexiness of Flynn, the book showcases a variety of talented, beautiful actors. It examines why these men were so appealing: on page 10, the author says, “It would be convenient to compare the greatest sex symbols to Greek gods … but a keener truth seems to be that we fancy our love gods deeply flawed.” I’d agree that this is true for most of the men in this book.

The book contains glossy photos, a biography on each actor, and links to videos (more on those later). The book opens with Marlon Brando, a personal favorite of mine. There’s a brief biography, and many smoldering photos to remind the reader of why he was so appealing. I particularly enjoyed a whimsical shot of Brando on the set of Apocalypse Now, where he looks relaxed and happy.

Next up is James Dean. The glossy photos capture his handsome face and bad-boy charm. Interesting note about the bio included here: I used to think Dean was bisexual. After reading this, now I think he was gay. This, of course, is irrelevant, because the main point is, he was a good actor and easy on the eyes.

Errol Flynn is featured next, and the pictures here emphasize his debonair reputation. Many actors today still emulate Flynn—indeed, in one photo, he reminded me of Cary Elwes; in another, Kevin Kline.

The chapter on Clark Gable was what I’d expected—several shots from Gone with the Wind, certainly his most famous role, along with candids of him with Carole Lombard and Marilyn Monroe.

The Cary Grant chapter was much like the others—a brief bio and several photos. The treasure in this chapter was a shot of him with Marilyn Monroe. She is posing, and he has a bewildered look on his face. It was a nice glimpse of Cary Grant, the man, not just Cary Grant, the actor.

I especially enjoyed the chapter on Rock Hudson. The photos emphasized how attractive he was, and the bio emphasized the tremendous impact he had on bringing AIDS to the spotlight. As I still remember the shock of seeing his gaunt face on the cover of People back in 1985, it was good to see him young and sexy again.

The Steve McQueen chapter offered no surprises, and served as a reminder of how cool he really was. He was followed by Paul Newman. It’s impossible not to love Paul Newman: besides being a genuinely nice guy—those eyes!

The chapter on Elvis Presley was sad. Though many of these icons died young, it’s tragic to look back on Elvis’s life, see how much he had going for him, and knowing that his life ended so soon. Yes, he was handsome, and the photos will remind you of that, but he was unhappy, too.

Finally, we have Rudolph Valentino to close out the book. His sex appeal was legendary, though photographs don’t always capture that essence of sexuality about him. Luckily, there are links that the reader can visit to see the man in action.

I did have some small issues with the book—it definitely needs another text edit, and it ends abruptly and without photo credits. (In all fairness, I have a review copy, so it’s possible that further edits were made after this version.) The video links throughout the volume will certainly enhance the e-book version of Style Icons, Volume I: Golden Boys, but in the print version, the location of the “play” icon in the center of each image was frustrating. However, this extra element of video links embedded throughout the book did make me want to purchase the e-book version.

Overall, Style Icons, Volume I: Golden Boys was an enjoyable read, and a respectful and intriguing look back at some of the screen’s most alluring leading men. You can buy it on Amazon by clicking here.