One of the great things about running scifipulse is that now and then you get the opportunity to connect with people that you looked up too when you were a kid.
For me personally Lou Ferrigno, who played the role of the Hulk in the popular ‘Incredible Hulk’ television show from the late 70s is one of those people and I was thrilled to be able to have a bit of a Q&A with him about a new project he is involved with called ‘Liberator’
So without any further delay and waffle from me. Here is the Q&A.
SciFiPulse: Firstly you’re on the record as a massive supporter and comic book fan. Now other than the Hulk what other characters from comics have inspired you over the years and what was it about them that you connected with?
Lou Ferrigno: I was a big Superman fan growing up. As a kid I was small and I had severe hearing loss. I had a severe speech impediment. Growing up certainly had challenges. Superman represented everything I wanted to be. Strong, noble, a hero. Superman always did the right thing. Hercules was a favorite as well — Steve Reeves. And James Bond! Not really a superhero but he was suave and slick and strong and was in charge, and he had a way with the ladies. Growing up with these heroic influences are part of what inspired me to start bodybuilding. I because obsessed with it as a way of empowering myself. Now I know you’re going to ask about the Hulk. Of course I was a Hulk fan too! The Hulk is one of those characters that you can definitely empathize with when you are feeling put down, angry. It’s very therapeutic. The Hulk rages and fights and is unstoppable, and yet like Frankensteion he’s misunderstood and has a strong heart and is a hero.
SFP: Lou, before I ask you about Liberator. I just wanted to say thank you for the opportunity. I’m a fan of yours from your days playing the Hulk and I have to say that even to this day. I prefer what you did with that to what has been done since in the two Hulk movies.
LF: Thank you! I prefer the live action to CG Hulk of course, but it was very exciting to return to the role for The Avengers (uncredited.) In our series every story had a moral, it had heart, and that’s something many movies don’t have today. That is one of the things that attracted me to LIBERATOR.
SFP: Your latest project is Liberator and having seen the 18 minute video that I was sent. I have to say that I really enjoyed it, but its somewhat darker than anything you’d usually be connected to. What drew you to Liberator and are we likely to see more of it?
LF: When I read the script by Jim Cirile and Aaron Pope I knew I had to do this movie. I’ve known Jim for years and I was really excited as an actor by the role. This is a man who has lost everything — he was a hero once and now he is nothing. His wife hates him, his daughter, the government… his back is against the wall and he feels he has no choice but to speak out about some of the questionable activities he was involved in. It has echoes of what’s going on right now with the whistleblowers like Snowden, and there are shades of gray there which is very interesting. The role had a lot of depth for a short film and I was very pleased with what they were able to do with so little money. I know Jim and Aaron are shopping the project now and the short has won some awards and now there’s a comic book series, so I’m hoping they will find interest in taking this to a series. It would be great to do this right with a real budget.
SFP: From what I seen of the show. I have to say that there was almost a Watchmen quality to it in that superheroes have been used for Black Ops. A bit like the Comedian, but your character seems to be the opposite of the Comedian in that he seems to be looking for redemption. What are your thoughts on that?
LF: The key to my character is he only cares about one person — his daughter. He needs to be redeemed in her eyes because he loves her so much but she believes what everyone has been saying about me and she hates me. Liberator kept his mouth shut for decades but he feels the only way to win his daughter back is to tell the truth. This raises a powerful conflict because by doing this, by speaking out and writing this tell-all book, he is also jeopardizing himself and the people around him. There are people who do not want this information to come out. It is a gritty, tough role, but there’s fun to it as well.
SFP: I read somewhere that Liberator in some ways was very much inspired by ‘The Wrestler,’ which as you know is a wonderful film. What parts of ‘The Wrestler’ do you think Liberator drew inspiration from?
LF: I think both characters — and Mickey Rourke was excellent in that movie — have hit rock bottom. Both used to be respected, loved, and then something happened. Now they are trying to come back but it’s a tough road. It was very brave for Mickey to take on a role like that and I applaud him. Liberator used to be beloved but then they threw him under the bus and now he’s despised. I’ve never seen an aging superhero like this before and it makes you think about what the reality of being a superhero today would really be like, especially given the political context.
SFP: Last year you were sworn in as a reserve deputy for your Police department. How did that come about and what kind of experiences have you gained from it that you have perhaps been able to bring to Liberator?
LF: I’ve been a deputy sheriff for eight years. I joined the LA County Sheriff’s Department in 2006. Last year I became a Reserve Deputy in San Luis Obispo and I work about 20-40 hours per month. I work with gangs, I work in search and rescue. It is immensely rewarding. As a kid I used to go to the shooting range with my dad, who taught me respect for the law and also how to take care of firearms. There is nothing I’ve ever done as rewarding as this.
SFP: I remember seeing you have breakfast with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the film ‘Pumping Iron’ and its pretty well known that Arnold helped you get your first acting gig. Do you and Arnold still talk. And if Liberator gets as far as a movie or TV series. Can you see there maybe being a guest spot for him?
LF: I love Arnold and I saw him just a few months ago at his convention. I cannot really see him in Liberator but never say never. I know there is a very interesting bad guy role in the feature script and they have their eye on a certain actor who would be fabulous but that’s all I can say.
SFP: Its pretty well known that you are hard of hearing and I am wondering if you have any messages of encouragement for other people with disabilities that our out there trying to find their way in the world.
LF: I talk about this all the time. Everything I do is about personal empowerment. When you have a limitation, society wants to put you down, to belittle you. I believe there is nothing you cannot overcome. I refused to listen to the negativity anymore. It became my fuel for personal empowerment. I realized that my limitations come from me, from insecurity. We all have the power to rebuild our self confidence. That doesn’t mean it will be easy. It will be hard. Everything worthwhile is, and you will have many setbacks. But if you believe in yourself others will see it too – it’s contagious. And they will believe and then you are unstoppable.
I talk to people all the time who have incredible stories. Athletes who are missing limbs and who do not let that stop them – just the opposite. If I can inspire one person then I have done my job. There is nothing that can stop you except yourself and saying I can’t. You know, that’s why I started Ferrigno Fit as well. We all need some encouragement and empowerment and someone holding our feet to the fire from time to time, you know. We all need to find the personal power within us, and I hope ferrigno Fit can give a little help to that too.
SFP: Finally we have seen a fair few superhero movies in recent years and knowing that you are a comic book fan. I’m just wondering if you have had chance to enjoy any of them.
LF: I just finished reading a great comic book. It’s called LOU FERRIGNO: LIBERATOR. It comes out this month (from Bluewater Comics.) It was made by the same people who made the movie, Jim and Aaron wrote it and the same artists from the movie too (Gerry Kissell, Darren Auck and Jesse D’Angelo.) The film is live action but has comic art too. It’s a little different from the film in that they changed a few things and expanded the story, and they really amped up the feeling for the character more. I think they did a great job. After playing one well-known comic book character and being associated with that character for so long, it’s great to be associated with another comic book character where I don’t have to wear green makeup.
SFP: Lou in closing I’d like to thank you for your time and wish you the best of luck with Liberator. I really hope that it takes off for you.
LF: Thank you and I hope your readers enjoy the movie and the comic book.