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Early in his career, Ferrigno Jr. worked his way into his innumerable roles through multiple guest appearances and commercial shoots. His TV debut was on Days of Our Lives in 2013 before getting on hits like 9-1-1, How I Met Your Mother, NCIS, and NCIS Los Angeles.
Those roles were precipitated by his appearances in ads like Subway, Dr. Pepper, Carl’s Jr., Honda, Oscar Mayer, FIAT, and Home Depot.
Ferrigno Jr. is a busy actor, and his roles are mounting high. He’s Hollywood’s next ‘it’ fellow that more people are going to know about.
Swagger asks Lou Ferrigno Jr. about his career choices as well as what keeps him fit.
Lou: I had these big shoes to fill compared to my father, the Incredible Hulk, Lou Ferrigno. I knew, wherever I went when I was a kid, people knew my father, but they didn’t know me. He did something great, the way he lived his life, and he was a world champion bodybuilder. So, I needed something to distinguish myself. As far as I knew, the bar by which success is determined was world-wide stardom. So, I was thinking to myself, ‘how am I going to do this?’
Global stardom worked as a great benchmark for success. I believed in myself and my capabilities. Essentially, we run on hope, faith, and the belief that things will pan out. Through hard work, those aspirations transpire into something worthy of being interviewed about.
When I was on set, I’d see craft service, catering, and all the food that actors got that was the cherry on top. The first thing is that I loved how actors got fed. Being a fat kid – a chubby boy – I would see all of this food and I’d think, ‘Everyone would know you across the earth, and you get free food?’ Honestly, that was a huge determinate. I’d always have to bring my lunch to other jobs. I thought, ‘I need to be a star.’
Lou: Well, thank you. It didn’t happen overnight.
My mom is from the South. She would always feed us and feed us well. I didn’t get heavy by accident. I loved to eat. Being Italian, I’m used to loud, boisterous meals.
A little bit was the rebellion of my father. He never pushed fitness on us.
But I took it upon myself. My dad has great genetics, and I’m blessed to be able to put on muscle. When I started working out, I started feeling good about myself. I started using the bullying I experienced to motivate me to feel better about myself getting in shape, and build confidence that only fitness and exercise can do for an individual.
Lou: Improv is incredible in that there is a structure you learn and skills that you are taught, and you implement. They are only really verifiable in a real-time performance. You don’t know if it is really funny until you are in front of a crowd. You don’t have to be funny the way you are with a small group of people. It’s a larger group of people who are giving you a little more leeway about what they will laugh at. The laugh is the ultimate prize.
There is also confidence and fearlessness, no matter where I am. Being onstage and speaking in front of a crowd is what people say is the scariest thing. First that, second, death – which I think is just odd.
I thought, if I can just go on stage and do that, and feel confident – you see these performers go on strange and just nail it. I wanted to be able to do that, because I wanted to callous my artistic skin. I wanted to feel like any situation you put me in, I would thrive. So, whatever I thought would be scary or daunting, I sought to conquer.
Lou: I remember my first role on Days of Our Lives, when I got to a legitimate television program of my own accord. That was very satisfying. I went in, auditioned, got a call back.
That was an interesting experience because it was completely unrelated to my father. My father had never done any type of soap opera. They wanted to see me portray an impediment – getting drunk. I was the drunk guy. That, for me, in confidence, was my first big break. I can do this. The name didn’t help. It doesn’t help me be a better performer; it doesn’t help me on set. Having a name is only going to take you so far.
The biggest break, I’d probably say, is SWAT. I did the pilot in 2017. It was the first pilot that I booked, and it happened to be – now we are on our 4th season and ongoing.
It is very testosterone driven. From the outside, I seem like I’m just loaded with testosterone. But I’m a very sensitive guy. I have my moments of being artsy and sensitive.
Lou: I have a very dynamic exercise regimen. I work with weights, but I also do a lot of cardio to stay lean, isometric tension, a lot of flexibility training. With SWAT we do a lot of crouching down and walking where your legs will be burning after the 25th take. I recreate a lot of the movements I do on set in the gym.
I play a superhero, so I have a lot of sidekicks and haymaker punches. All of that goes with it… I’m a very big believer that every muscle ties into well-being. If I train my calves, it’s a part of training my hamstrings, which is a part of training my core, which is essentially my lower abs, which is the first place people look when you take your shirt off onscreen.
The TRX has been incredibly valuable and convenient to use in order to vary my lifting routines and focus on exercises based in isometric tension. I love my Keiser Handle Bike that allows me to maintain a low body fat percentage, while engaging my entire body simultaneously.
I’ve also been delighted in recently realizing the innumerable physical quick-paced power walk. Living in quarantine was a challenge in so many ways, but a jovial jaunt every other day in fresh air kept my mental attitude strong, and got me out of my comfort zone, and didn't even cost a dime.
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My dream gym would be a glorious haven filled with all the countless weights, hammer-strength/nautilus machines, medicine balls, bands, and other delights of a top-notch facility, but ideally it would be fully operational 24 hours a day. Quite often, I find myself immersed in full workouts deep into the night, with just as much vigor as a morning workout. Due to my sporadic shooting schedules, access to a fully operational gym, filled with every flavor of sports drink, and a 24 hour protein shake bar would definitely be my dream gym situation.
Dreamcatcher: It was fun and energetic. My character was a seedy prick that gets what is coming to him. I think retribution when it is justified is satisfying for the viewer. I like playing a character that deserves getting something coming their way, and does. Balancing that with making the character likable. It’s fun and suspenseful.
Nightshade: This is one of my proudest projects. It’s a psychological thriller. I am the lead. I took this project on my shoulders, and from what I’ve seen, it is really cool. I’ve seen films kind of touch upon that direction, but the way it stands out is something I’ve never seen before. It’s very exciting. It is very dark, but also very sensational.
Blackout: It was very exciting because I got to work with screen legend Nick Nolte and Hollywood A-list leading man Josh Duhmel. It was just a dream come true with these two guys. They are succeeding at the category that I’m in, ‘The Leading Man’ – that I’m put in, unbeknownst to myself. To see these guys work and work so well on such a Jason Bourne-like project was such a treat. I play Jacobs, Nick Nolte’s right hand man who is trying to find Josh Duhmel, who has ended up in a Mexican hospital not knowing who he is, but he has these abilities. The point is to find out who he is, why is he like this. Astoundingly, a good time.
Guest House: Raucous comedy. I play the ex-boyfriend of the lead, Amy Teagarden, who her father loved, who threatened her relationship with Mike Castle. We don’t know why they broke up, but he’s a smarmy cocky, Bradley Cooper-type character from Wedding Crashers. He gets mauled and attacked in an apocalyptic way by thirsty elderly women. It was a fun movie that is dirty at times, but for a very particular audience that wants to laugh out loud.
SWAT: My character is full GOAT SWAT. He’s the epitome of SWAT. He’s as SWAT a guy as there is. He’s a SWAT team leader. His call sign is 50 David, and he leads the second team. The first team, being the series regulars. I get to jump in and do the bad guy tackling, terrorist wrangling, all of that stuff. It’s exciting and fun to watch and portray.
Hourman and Stargirl: a dream come true. I get to walk around with a mask and a cape and not get arrested. I’m on set pretending to be this totally, from head to toe, as superhero as it gets. I really lean into it. I feel like it is my destiny to be a superhero. People have said I have a superhero chin that I didn’t do anything to receive. The show is doing a wonderful homage to the superheroes of old, and embodying the real life property of the DC universe that has yet to be seen. I’m very lucky to be cast as Hourman on this show; Starman is doing very well.
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