Champion bodybuilder and “The Incredible Hulk” star Lou Ferrigno is pumped about his next movie.
The 70-year-old actor begins filming his first horror movie, “The Hermit,” in Syracuse this week. Ferrigno will play a murderous, cannibalistic pig farmer in his first role as a creature since he starred on the superhero TV series, “The Incredible Hulk,” which aired on CBS from 1977 to 1982.
“The Hermit” centers on two 19-year-olds who go on a fishing trip when they stumble across a farm with animal heads hanging from the wall. They then meet the “giant” that runs the place, a loner who doesn’t speak well because he grew up “kind of feral” with his mother, who taught him how to cook people and make them into jerky.
“I’ve always wanted to do a horror film like the Frankenstein character,” Ferrigno told syracuse.com | The Post Standard in a phone interview.
Ferrigno said he loved movie monsters like Dracula and Frankenstein when he was a kid and had opportunities for other horror films over the years, but was drawn to “The Hermit” because of the script and the unique character.
“It’s not a monster,” Ferrigno explained. “This guy basically had a lot of pain… great character formation to be in film. Which is fantastic. I’m very excited about it because it is a very deep movie that’s going to move people, especially with this character.”
Ferrigno couldn’t spoil more details of the script, but predicted people will love seeing him get angry — just like the Hulk — in the movie.
“I think people will connect with ‘The Hermit’ because especially when he gets angry… he’s a cannibalistic pig farmer but the thing is, you’ll see the reason why he’s like that,” Ferrigno said. “I think people will sympathize with him even though he could be a killer, like letting a pit bull out of the cage.”
The horror-comedy film will be directed by US-based Italian filmmaker Salvatore Sclafani, who is also producing along with Gerry Pass’ Chrome Entertainment. According to IMDb, the cast includes Christopher Collins (who appeared in ”The Offer” with Ferrigno), Donna Pieroni (“This Is Us”), James Quattrochi (“Goodfellas”) and Bruce Faulk (“The Sopranos”).
Ferrigno, who arrives in Syracuse Wednesday, is scheduled to be in town until Sept. 1 for filming. He said he briefly visited the Salt City before, a long time ago when he was growing up in NYC, and is looking forward to an extended stay in Central New York.
“I’ve heard good things about the town,” he said.
Filming locations have not been announced, but producers recently asked for the public’s input to help finding a house surrounded by woods and a large wooded area — likely for this movie.
Ferrigno first rose to fame as a bodybuilder, winning the IFBB Mr. America and mr. Universe titles and competing with Arnold Schwarzenegger for Mr. Olympia in 1975, before going on to become an actor. Ferrigno has appeared in more than 100 movies and TV shows, including “Pumping Iron,” “Sharknado 3,” “The King of Queens,” “I Love You Man,” “Hercules,” “Chuck,” “The Apprentice,” and Marvel’s “The Incredible Hulk.”
The Hulk has continued to appear on screen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with Mark Ruffalo most recently reprising the role opposite Tatiana Maslany’s Jennifer Walters in the Disney+ series “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law.” They use CGI to become their characters, while Ferrigno mainly relied on green make-up to become the Hulk to Bill Bixby’s Bruce Banner; Ferrigno’s version of the muscular hero was still mostly him physically.
Ferrigno isn’t a fan of the recent “Smart Hulk” character that appears in “Avengers: Endgame” and “She-Hulk,” with Ruffalo’s face on the Hulk’s body as a kind of in-between Banner and his alter-ego.
“I’m very disappointed with the way the Hulk is being portrayed now because he’s wearing a suit and he sounds like a professor,” Ferrigno said. “The Hulk needs to be authentic, hideous (and) more organic… Now I don’t know what I’m looking at because it’s too much CGI.”
If Ferrigno got to play both Banner and the Hulk, he thinks his updated version would be more accurate.
“Basically (Bruce Banner is) fighting his own demons and people just love him. He’s very likeable and people want to take him into his home,” Ferrigno said. “He likes to help people, he likes to give back. Especially when he’s running away from those demons. I want to continue that trend because it’s so beautiful.”
Ferrigno said that he still would like to play an older superhero in the MCU like Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury. He appeared as a security guard in 2003′s “Hulk” (starring Eric Bana) and 2008′s “The Incredible Hulk” (starring Edward Norton), but noted he still has the physical characteristics to play a comic book hero.
“That’s my dream to be part of that,” Ferrigno said.
Meanwhile, Ferrigno has worked hard to improve his own life. He’s had severe hearing loss since suffering ear infections at a young age, and noticed it was worsening as he got older. He made the decision to get cochlear implants last year, and got emotional when they were first activated and he could hear a jumble of new sounds.
“Cochlear implants changed my life,” Ferrigno told syracuse.com | The Post Standard.
Ferrigno said he quickly found they were better than hearing aids, which largely provide amplification but necessarily clarity. With cochlear implants, he was able to hear and distinguish more different sounds, including his wife, children and grandchildren. The change also helped with clarity in his own speech.
“Hearing aids amplify your voice but it doesn’t monitor the best sound,” he explained. “I didn’t sound like this two years ago. Now I’m able to hear so much better, especially in speaking situations, hearing people situations.”
The surgery lasted less than two hours, he said, and had very little pain. The implants were activated three weeks later, and then had to work hard over five to six months with different exercises to learn how to distinguish different words and sounds.
“(Deaf and hard-of-hearing people) have to be a fighter,” Ferrigno said. “Most people don’t care about hearing loss… when I was a kid I was always (feeling) ashamed and rejected. But now, because so many people wear hearing aids, it’s not the same anymore.”
A release date has not been announced for “The Hermit.”
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