Find out what happened to the first “live” interpreter of Bruce Banner alias Hulk: actor Lou Ferrigno.
Lou Ferrigno began his career as a bodybuilder, finishing 2nd then 3rd in the Mr Olympia contest behind No. 1 Arnold Schwarzenegger.
His impressive stature (1.96 meters, 130 kilos) and his presence in the documentary Pumping Iron made him chosen to play the character Marvel Hulk, of which he has always been a big fan.
If “Schwarzie” will be considered but considered too small, it is first Richard Kiel (the “Jaws” of Moonraker) who is hired for the pilot of this series, but who is finally considered too little muscular. Ferrigno replaces him to embody the “transformed” version of the character, and it is Bill Bixby who plays Bruce Banner outside of the fight scenes.
The series is called The Incredible Hulk and from its launch in 1977, Ferrigno became iconic thanks to his musculature and his incarnation of the superhero on the screen. CBS finally renouncing a connected Marvel universe, the series was canceled in 1981, and the last episodes aired in 1982.
As soon as the series ended, Ferrigno left to shoot in Italy Luigi Cozzi’s Hercules (1983), produced by the Cannon firm. The film, family and good-natured, is a success, but the performance of Lou Ferrigno does not mark the spectators and does not propel him, as hoped, to the rank of movie star like Conan the Barbarian had done for Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Ferrigno therefore takes refuge on television by playing the guests and between 1988 and 1990, found the Hulk character three times in TV movies worn by Bill Bixby, trying in vain to revive interest in a new series.
He will try again to be recognized as an adventure star with Sinbad (1989), again for the Cannon. Post-production problems (3 hours of film not exploitable by Enzo G. Castellari) make its release catastrophic, going from an attempt at a cinema blockbuster to a direct-video as the reviews are so bad. Another blow to Ferrigno’s career.
After filming in Cage and its sequel Cage II, Ferrigno found Hulk by lending his voice to the superhero for the first time (he was dubbed in the 70s show) during the animated series The Incredible Hulk in 1996.
He also appeared in the first feature film adaptation in 2003 with Eric Bana in the role, to play a snappy security guard. A cameo that he resumes for Marvel Studios in 2008 in The Incredible Hulk with Edward Norton, but this time he embodies the voice of the transformed character, just like in Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron by Joss Whedon.
Finally, after small appearances, often in his own role or in a nod to Hulk or Bruce Banner, Ferrigno recently found a prominent role in the miniseries The Offer, which tells the genesis of the film The Godfather.
He plays Lenny Montana, the actor who played the famous Luca Brasi in Francis Ford Coppola’s film. The program will be broadcast in France on Paramount+ from December 1st.
We will soon see the actor on the poster for the horror film The Hermit, in which he plays a cannibal farmer! No, Lou Ferrigno is not done with screens…