Unlike Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferrigno landed the iconic role with his original bodybuilding body in 1977


Lou Ferrigno and Arnold Schwarzenegger are both bodybuilding icons. As Arnold put bodybuilding on the map, Lou became the first man to play Hulk onscreen. In 1977, Arnie and Lou both auditioned to play the big green monster on screen. However, the multiple winner of the Mr. Universe and Mr. Olympia title was not made. Ferrigno also had no acting experience before landing the role.

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So how did the double Mr. Universe beat its more seasoned rivals? You could say Ferrigno was born to play the Hulk.

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Lou Ferrigno was already old enough to play the Hulk

Lou Ferrigno was massive during his bodybuilding days. the American was 6’5 while Arnold was 6’2. Ferrigno also weighed 280 pounds. The authors of “The Incredible Hulk” (1977-1982) thought Ferrigno was the perfect size to play as the Hulk. However, it still wasn’t easy. Ferrigno said, “I had to work really hard on my diet and exercise for the Hulk.” The former Mr Universe is also proud that he didn’t need a suit with padding to look taller. “Today I can’t think of another superhero that isn’t in costume or CGI,” says Lou.

The double Mr. Universe, first shot to fame after starring as Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s rival in the 1977 documentary, ‘Pumping Iron’. Later that same year, Lou appeared on television as Pontoon. Although seemingly unrelated events, there was more to it. The seven-time Mr. Olympia was the writers’ first choice. Howeverwriter-producer, Kenneth Johnson decided that Arnie was too small to be the Hulk.

Arnold was 6’2 and even in the off season weighed no more than 260 pounds. However, Ferrigno had both the height and the weight advantage. At the 1976 Mr. Olympia, Arnold beat Ferrigno with better conditioning and superior posing. Arnie was also five years older and had significantly more experience than Ferrigno. However, for the TV series “The Incredible Hulk” such complexities did not matter.

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the old Mr Universe loved playing Hulk and also said, “The Hulk was also my hero when I was a kid.” Lou’s performance has become so iconic that he even voiced the Hulk in ‘The Avengers (2012). Arnold Schwarzenegger got his big acting break in “Conan the Barbarian” in 1982.

Ferrigno participated in the first World’s Strongest Man competition

The World’s Strongest Man competition was also first held in 1977. Lou competed with fellow “Pumping Iron” star Franco Columbu. Lou placed 4th behind Olympic weightlifter Ken Patera. Columbus had dislocated his knee while competing in the fridge race.

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Look at this story – 6’5 Tall Beast Lou Ferrigno towered over seven-time Mr. Olympia winner Arnold Schwarzenegger in these iconic images

While Arnold and Lou auditioned for the iconic role, Lou edged out Arnold because he was taller. However, the seven-time Mr. Olympia later became the biggest action star of the 90s. To this day, neither Arnold nor Ferrigno have any ill will towards each other.

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