By Rich Henrich
Louis Jude “Lou” Ferrigno, perhaps best known to many as “The Incredible Hulk,” brings his brand of inspiration to Comic Con Palm Springs this August 26-28th at the Palm Springs Convention Center. According to their website, Comic Con Palm Springs has brought together some of the most passionate and talented people from the world of comic books and entertainment to produce an exciting new comic con in one of the most famous and fun cities in the world. If Lou Ferrigno and Stan Lee are any indication, this will be an event for the ages!
I grew up a young fan of The Incredible Hulk and later in life, I followed the bodybuilding techniques of Lou Ferrigno. He was indeed a comic book character that jumped off the page and came to life no matter what role he played whether fiction of real life. Lou Ferrigno represents an American success story and is known for his love of family, country and the important role entertainment plays in our daily lives. Earlier this week, I had the honor of speaking with “The Hulk,” to discuss everything from bullying to building a better body. I left the conversation feeling inspired and powerful! Thank you, Lou for taking the time to share your journey and inspire me to be more, to believe more and motivate me to become the superhero I ought to be in reality.
CVW: Of all your accomplishments, which ones are you most proud to claim?
Lou: Well, I’m most proud of my marriage of 36 years and our 3 kids.
Lou: You have to have open communication. It’s also about being a good dad and talking with our kids. We have honesty and the communication in our family is open. Whenever we can, we travel with our kids, too and just share passion for life together. It’s important to do things as a family.
CVW: Speaking of being a good dad, you recently went into business with your kids.
Lou: We started FerrignoFit.com, which is a really great site that will help people achieve their goals. We are all in entertainment but we are personal trainers, too.
CVW: For those people out there who want to “Hulk” out, what advice do you have?
Lou: Well, go to our website. There is a lot of information there on diet, training and also how not to over-train. It has to be a routine that you enjoy otherwise you won’t want to do it. So, we make it fun.
CVW: You actually have a fitness event this fall in the Coachella Valley. Can you tell me a bit about that?
Lou: Yeah, Ferrigno Legacy is a great event that will take place at Agua Caliente in October. We will have a lot of competitors. You should register!
CVW: Maybe next year! I think I will need to do your 12 weeks of Ferrigno Fit, first! Is it true you were bullied as a kid?
Lou: Yeah, I was bullied my whole life as a kid. That’s why I started weight training so I could protect myself. I started when I was thirteen. I was a fan of Hercules and Steve Reeves, the actor who played that role. (Steve Reeves was also a bodybuilder).
CVW: Were you bullied because you were hard of hearing?
Lou: Yeah it was difficult. They called me deaf mute and all kinds of names. It taught me how to overcome adversity.
CVW: What role did comic books play for you during this time?
Lou: It was an escape. I loved Superman but I really related to “The Hulk.” I was like a real life Walter Mitty. I wanted to be “Hulk.” That’s why I kept training to be like him. I really connected to that character. I was him.
CVW: Do you think the rise of super hero films is about escaping or the need for a hero?
Lou: It’s about escaping and being able to connect to something powerful. It’s an incredible feeling to connect to a superhero like “Ironman.” It’s a great feeling to feel that you can be powerful. Being a superhero is all about power.
Lou: I was training for Mr. Olympia and I heard about the audition. I knew I had to be “The Hulk.” So, I auditioned and I got the part! I had to give up competition for the role but I knew I had to be this character.
CVW: Is this why you were out of weight lifting competition for so long?
Lou: Exactly. I was focused on entertainment but then decided to make a come back at 42 years old.
CVW: What was the hardest part of making a comeback at 42?
Lou: I needed to develop the hunger to compete again. I have always been competitive but the biggest challenge was learning how to compete with that same hunger as before.
CVW: I think a lot of people dream about making a comeback in various aspects of their lives. What made you successful?
Lou: I had to train and diet and remember the mindset I had to be competitive. Most important for me was to remember the passion I had for weight training and being competitive. I’m really competitive with myself. If I give 100% than I’m happy. Remembering the passion was the most important.
Lou: It was during the filming of the documentary “Pumping Iron.” I loved the camera! I realized it was about showing emotion more than words. I saw that I could make people laugh. It changed my personality and helped me overcome my adversity in a big way.
CVW: What advice do you have to those who are challenged by adversity?
Lou: Regardless of what people say, you must believe in yourself. You have to find that strength inside. I tell people to embrace your passion no matter what people say. Don’t listen to what they are saying. If you embrace your passion, you will be unstoppable!
*** I have that moment in my mind where I just want to “Hulk Out!” The conviction in his voice is resounding; it rings so true, so clear. I am awakened and inspired.
CVW: What passion project do you want to embrace next?
Lou: I want to be in people’s living rooms making them laugh. I really enjoy comedy and projecting the words off the paper. It’s instantaneous. I had a lot of fun on “King of Queens,” and on “Instant Death,” working with Nathan Fillion, too.
CVW: Do you have a TV show coming up?
Lou: I want to have my own show. I have some ideas now. Maybe I would be a coach type character or something. It would be a comedy like “King of Queens.” I just want to be in your living room entertaining you!
CVW: You’ve done a lot of Comic Con’s. I met you a few years ago at one in Albuquerque. After doing so many, what are you excited about for this one in Palm Springs?
Lou: Stan Lee! Stan is 94 years old. He doesn’t get out to many events so this is special. It will also be a rare opportunity to see Stan, the creator of “The Hulk,” and me, “The Hulk,” together at the same time.
Lou: The Hulk was the first successful comic book. As a kid, I would read the comic books and wonder what Stan Lee was like.
CVW: Really? That’s funny. So, what is Stan Lee like now that you’ve met him?
Lou: He’s amazing. So much energy! He has more energy than you and me put together! He’s very energetic, smart and funny, too. Of course, he’s a great storyteller. He’s a joker. He’s always picking on me!
CVW: Come on? Stan Lee picks on “The Hulk?”
Lou: No, serious. He likes to pick on me. He’s funny, though. I don’t mind.
CVW: Why do you think Comic Cons have become so popular?
Lou: It’s just part of pop culture now. They are great events. People want to be entertained in a more interactive way. It’s not about blood, sex or violence. They get to see celebrities in a way that makes them feel connected to them. They can interact or just go to Q & A sessions and learn about their favorite characters.
CVW: I think it’s great to see so many families coming to these events. I see fathers sharing superheroes with their sons and families dressing up together.
Lou: It’s a great opportunity to boost self-esteem. As a kid, I could only imagine what Stan Lee was like, now kids can come and meet him and all the other celebrities. I never met a celebrity when I was a kid.
CVW: Why do you think the events boost self-esteem?
Lou: Well because they can meet celebrities and see what they are like. Then it’s not so far away for them to become what they want. The dream can be in front of them.
CVW: I agree. I never thought about it that way but you are right, just having the ability to interact with their favorite characters in real life can help their aspirations become more tangible.
Lou: So much more is possible now. I have a lot of fun meeting people, too.
CVW: I promised my friend’s seven year old, Yonah that I would ask you his question. Do you think “The Hulk” can survive in space without a helmet?
CVW: He will be thrilled that you answered that one! In all the years of doing comic cons and being interviewed, is there a question you are surprised has never been asked of you?
Lou: No. I think in all the interviews every question has been asked.
CVW: What is something you think a lot of people may not know about you?
Lou: I think a lot of people may not know that I am a sworn Deputy Sheriff for the Los Angeles and San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s Department.
CVW: You are also a sworn officer in Maricopa County in AZ?
Lou: Yes, I wanted to support them in their efforts out there.
CVW: It’s really an important office. Perhaps many don’t realize that the Sheriff takes an oath to uphold and protect the Constitution.
Lou: That’s right. I’m very proud to have been sworn in.
CVW: Thank you for taking on that responsibility.
Lou: You are welcome.
CVW: You have overcome a lot of adversity and achieved a lot of success in your life. What do you say to people wanting to know how to be successful in life?
Lou: First, success is like Rome…it’s not built in a day. You have to put down your short-term goals and your long-term goals. Then go for it! You have to have the passion for what you want to do. It’s really important to enjoy what you do, to love what you do. You have to learn to trust your mind and not listen to what other people are saying. Trust your mind and your soul and you can achieve anything you dare to do.
CVW: Great advice, Lou! Anything else you want to say?
Lou: I look forward to a great event. I’ve never been to Palm Springs for a Comic Con. I’m really excited to be a part of this one.
CVW: With you and Stan and the rest of the line up, it’s destined to be a great experience! Thank you again for your time today.
Lou: You are welcome. Oh, can I be on the cover?
CVW: You’ll see soon enough, Lou!
Good words from the man who trained Michael Jackson and avoided death in Egypt. Comic Con Palm Springs will take place at the Palm Springs Convention Center August 26-28, 2016. For more info go to: comicconpalmsprings.com