Calgary

Hulk returns to Calgary, pumped to meet expo fans

You can’t say David Banner didn’t warn them in 1978 that a transformation was forthcoming. And the big green bodybuilder who was the end result has a connection to Calgary.

Lou Ferrigno has done a lot since 1970s action show, and the 66-year-old isn’t done yet

The 66-year-old says his character in television's The Incredible Hulk, which ran from 1978 to 1982, was a great springboard to bigger things. (Ellis Choe/CBC)

"You wouldn't like me when I'm angry."

You can't say David Banner didn't warn them in 1978 that a transformation was forthcoming. And the big green bodybuilder who was the end result has a connection to Calgary.

"Thirty years ago, I did a play here called Arsenic and Old Lace at Stage West. I played the role of Jonathan and it became like my second home. I had so much fun here. I love Calgary," Lou Ferrigno told The Homestretch this week, ahead of his appearance at the 2018 Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo that runs Thursday through Sunday.

The 66-year-old says his character in TV's The Incredible Hulk, which ran from 1978 to 1982, was a great springboard to bigger things.

"I was training for the 1977 Mr. Olympia. At the time, they were shooting the pilot with a guy named Richard Kiel, who played Jaws on James Bond," Ferrigno said.

"They did a nationwide casting call and found me. I went for the audition. The next day I was hired. They reshot the pilot and the rest is history."

But it was a lot of work.

"It was 3½ hours of makeup. The body was three or four coats of pancake makeup, then you had the eyes, the teeth and the wig. The hardest part was I had to endure that makeup 12 to 14 hours a day. I was the first one on the set and the last one to leave."

The award-winning bodybuilder, fitness coach and author and actor, who loved comic book heroes growing up, went on to do dozens of movies and five TV series after that initial acting stint, despite having only about 20 per cent of his hearing and a severe speech impediment.

"Of course I was stereotyped. I did Hercules, Sinbad of the Seven Seas, then the play here in Calgary, Arsenic and Old Lace, then I did the movie I Love You, Man, the TV series The King of Queens for seven years because I love doing comedy. Because the Hulk was so successful, that's why you see so many A-list actors filming Marvel movies, because of the Hulk series."

Ferrigno says meeting fans at expos is always a thrill.

"Meeting the fans, the instant gratification. They get excited, they take selfies with me because of my physicality. Three different generations come and ask me about the series, tell me how much it affected their lives," he said.

His next project, a reality TV series called Pump on the Discovery Channel, begins production this summer.


With files from CBC's Ellis Choe and The Homestretch

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