Having a famous name isn’t always easy, especially in this current climate. Yes, the spectre of ‘nepo babies’ still lingers in Hollywood, but having a famous parent or relative in tinsel town doesn’t always necessarily guarantee success. Often times it takes perseverance, talent and hard work to make it in the world of entertainment, which is something Lou Ferrigno Jr. is no short supply off.
As the son of actor-bodybuilder Lou Ferrigno, Lou Jr. has big shoes to fill. After all, his father is not just a multiple body building champion, but he is also the OG Hulk. However, Lou has slowly but surely established himself as his own man with some coveted roles in both film and television.
Most audiences know him for his role as Donovan Rocker in the hit action CBS series, S.W.A.T., a role he has held on to since 2017. Recently, he was also seen in Season 3 of Netflix’s hit series Outer Banks, playing the role of ‘Ryan’ as the main antagonist’s (Mr. Singh played by Andy McQueen) enforcer.
He will next be seen in the Nick Cassavetes film Dyad, which revolves around the context of sex, murder amongst high-profile elites within Hollywood and politics. A male-lead on the rise, Lou cut his teeth in numerous roles in TV on productions such as NCIS, Teen Wolf, 9-1-1 and How I Met Your Mother. He’s even followed in his father’s footsteps portraying a superhero in CW’s StarGirl, in which he suited up as Hourman.
Although there are similarities between him and his famous dad, there’s no doubt that Lou Ferrigno Jr. has come into his own as one of Hollywood’s rising male-leads, a position he no doubt intends to follow through on in this exclusive interview with AugustMan.
Carrying the Ferrigno name, has it made it easier or harder for you in your acting career thus far?
I’ve always felt I would have enormous shoes to fill with regard to my father’s illustrious Hollywood career, which still continues after 40 plus years. Hard enough as it is to achieve success as an actor in Hollywood, I believe that sharing the same name as my famous father had both its advantages and disadvantages. For instance, my name could stand out on a list of 100 other unknown actors which could spark curiosity in casting, as to the extent of my creative capability.
For years I studied various acting techniques and performed long-form improv at theatres across Los Angeles just to be sure I wouldn’t leave a bad impression as an actor. Nonetheless, sharing a famous name doesn’t make an actor, let alone good enough to be brought back to recur on any big-budget production with a lot of people’s jobs at stake. On the contrary, having my name and having to face the expectations that coincide has driven me to work harder than I may have otherwise in order to uphold the level of professionalism and to supersede my father’s success.
What inspired you to pursue acting, where did that passion come from? Has your dad dispensed any invaluable advice for you to realize your aspirations as an actor?
Much of my childhood was spent accompanying my parents on their work trips, which in this case were on film and TV productions across the globe. My father and mother were both working actors, with my mother also my father’s business manager. So, whether I liked it or not, Hollywood was the predominant industry with which my siblings and I were familiar with. I became fascinated with how actors would perform and the degree to which they would commit to the gravity of a scene.
My parents would frequently work auditions together, which would at times seem as if they were arguing but were merely running dialogue. The process of acting, creating a character out of thin air seemed so exciting to me as a boy, something that I always wanted to try. However, I was not aware at the time how much of a deep-seeded passion acting would one day become in my life.
When it came to acting specifically, my parents were incredibly supportive, especially during the times when I needed the most encouragement. So much of the time I spent observing my father’s work, on-set, the dedication he showed to his profession on a daily basis has served as an invaluable template for my own career.
You’re in Outer Banks Season 3, can you tell us more about the character of Ryan you play and what attracted you to this role?
When I first received the audition for Ryan in Outer Banks, I would have loved to work on this great show but didn’t actually think it would come to fruition. The first month of filming season 3 was scheduled to shoot on the island of Barbados which seemed like a pipe dream at the time. Still, I knew that I could play the part of Ryan in a unique way based on my experience with several previous roles, S.W.A.T. especially.
Ryan is a highly trained mercenary, the lead enforcer to the infamous Caribbean crime lord, Carlos Singh. Tactically proficient and ruthlessly determined, Ryan will serve as a dangerous adversary to the “Pogues” in season 3, as he and Mr. Singh’s pursuit for the golden city of El Dorado. This role was especially exciting for me because Ryan was written with a foreign accent, which is always a fun challenge for an actor.
Touching on S.W.A.T. you’ve contributed to the success of the show. What are your feelings about being on the show for so many years and on the development of ‘Rocker’ on the series?
I have auditioned for so many shows that never made it past the pilot episode, let alone run for multiple seasons. To be a part of such a prestigious network drama such as S.W.A.T. (currently in its 6th season), has been such a blessing in my career. Being that my very first episode was the Pilot, I feel privileged to say that I have been a part of this successful series since “Day 1.”
Initially written as a wise-cracking prankster of a rival squad (50-David), Rocker has since ascended the ranks to Sergeant and the leader of 50-David. This character arc has allowed me to shift Rocker’s disposition to a more poised, responsible officer than originally conceived. It would be an honour to continue playing Rocker in future episodes, so fingers crossed that at a season 7 renewal could afford opportunity!
It’s interesting to note, you and your dad both played superheroes. How was it playing Hourman in StarGirl?
Although short lived, it was a tremendous experience portraying DC’s Hourman in all of his glory. One of the most memorable aspects of working on StarGirl was the process of being fitted for a fully-bespoke DC superhero costume. From the boots to the gloves, to the foam muscles – every super-suit has them – every inch of the costume was customized to my exact specifications, which took a team of 15+ gifted artists and craft workers approximately 14 weeks to construct.
To this day I’m an avid comic book nerd. With my father having played such an iconic superhero, the Incredible Hulk, naturally it has always been a career aspiration of mine to one day become a “superhero” as well. Although the Incredible Hulk is much more widely known than Hourman, I still find time to brag to my dad that since Hourman wore a cape, I’m technically more of a “superhero” than he is (laughs). Wearing a cape was so much fun because every pose I’d strike, or sudden movement would be dramatically heroic and grandiose in nature. Life is just better while rocking a cape.
You’re in the Nick Cassavetes film Dyad. Can you tell us more about your role in that project?
I’m so excited about Dyad and eager to see how the final film is going to be received by audiences. The dark subject matter of this film sparked my fascination from the moment I began reading the script. The writer of Dyad, Will Hirschfeld, did a stellar job creating a riveting storyline revolving around a global cabal (sex-cult) who’s sinister influence extends into the furthest reaches of power across the underworld.
I play a news reporter who along with his associate Sofia, Dajana Gudić, have been inadvertently swept into the underpinnings of this treacherous organization’s powerful grip on society. Together, David and Sofia take it upon themselves to expose the cult’s powerful leader Zane (Nick Cassavetes), in order to bring this evil organization to justice. Once Dyad releases worldwide, I encourage all to check it out and see how this unique story unfolds. Feel free to reach out via Instagram and DM me with your thoughts!
Thus far we’ve seen you in physical type roles. Are you specifically drawn to these type of characters?
I believe that it’s integral for any actor to be well-rounded, including being physically capable of bringing a written character to life through gestures. For the actor, maintaining proficient physical adaptability is essential in order to personify a character in a multitude of ways. A character’s specific physical reactions, posture, gait, as well as any other idiosyncratic gesticulations assist in deepening a character’s full dimensionality. I was an athlete for most of my life, participating different organized team sports like football, soccer, baseball, basketball and track & field, beginning early in grade school, all the way through college as a “walk-on” for the 2007 Rose Bowl champion University of Southern California Trojan football team.
Every ounce of the training, discipline, physical pain, and intellectual challenges I endured during those many strenuous years, directly contributed to shaping the hyper-functional, balanced physique I possess today. I’m drawn to playing compelling characters in any form, regardless of their physical prowess, yet I do believe that the more physicality a character can display, the more opportunities exist to further strengthen a character’s on-screen existence.
What sort of roles do you want to pursue in the future, to challenge yourself as an actor?
So many of the characters that I’ve portrayed have been physically powerful and heroic in nature, however I would love the chance to play characters on the opposite end of the creative spectrum. With that said, I would love to play a character who suffers from a severe handicap, or physical disability.
Being raised by a handicapped father with a severe hearing loss had its unique challenges but has hypersensitized my awareness to those suffering from a mental or physical impairment and I would consider it an honour to be given the chance to personify a compelling, sympathetic character. I would also love to play a character of great historical significance, whomever my essence would most accurately reflect.
(Photography: Ben Cope)