Lou Ferrigno Jr. is a rising male actor and model whose talent spans across both comedy and drama, with his captivating performances catching the attention of audiences.
Born and raised in Santa Monica, California, Lou grew up immersed in the entertainment industry as the son of actor-bodybuilder Lou Ferrigno and actress Carla (Green) Ferrigno. Inspired by his upbringing, Lou pursued his dream of becoming an actor and has since appeared in numerous popular TV series, such as CBS’s S.W.A.T. and CW’s Star Girl. In 2023, Lou appeared on the hit Netflix series “Outer Banks” as Ryan, a role that has evolved into a series regular due to his excellent performance. When he is not acting or modeling, Lou engages in philanthropic work focused on helping animals and preserving the planet. We caught up with Lou to learn more about his time on Outer Banks and his career path.
What inspired you to pursue a career in acting initially?
Whether you’re aware or not, my father is an actor. He was the Incredible Hulk on TV. I grew up around the industry, and my father was into building wooden window frames. So, there was a presumption that the next generation would move forward with it. But believe me, I tried many things, many other things because I saw and witnessed how challenging and difficult a career as an actor would be, especially as a star. My father was a bodybuilder, and seeing that the lifestyle fit what we were raised with – hard work and dedication – it was always a challenge. I performed a lot of professional duties leading up to acting because I knew deep down in the back of my mind that I wanted my shot to pursue this crazy, crazy career full of highs and lows. My parents were always supportive. Finally, when I went through about 12 to 15 different professions, ranging from working in a restaurant to working at a talent agency, construction, working in an event planning company, all these things, I decided to just knock them off one by one until I finally knew that there was no turning back. Once I made that leap, I knew and still know today that there’s nothing else for me to do that I would enjoy.
Did your dad give you any advice that kind of stands out to you when you told him you wanted to pursue acting?
The advice my father gave me was to work incredibly hard and to be diligent and punctual. I modeled after him in terms of how to be a man of my word and to show up when I say I’m going to show up. Now, that’s kind of the foundation of a successful career in any field. But there was something that was always so alluring about this profession to him. He’s a complicated man, hard of hearing. I was always raised with a handicapped father, which represented challenges of its own. But his advice, and my mom’s advice more so, was just to keep going. It’s such a wild profession in terms of dealing with building character arcs and formulating how characters would evolve and react, putting myself in the position of these characters, and sometimes very unfavorable personalities if that’s the casting. But to just keep going.
Do you have a certain way that you like to prepare for the roles that you get?
Whenever I read up on a character, I do read the breakdown in terms of how the character is pictured to the writer because I think that that’s a good launch base. Now, I have a very intense demeanor by nature, so if they ever say he’s a very intense, angry guy, or anything like that, I use my natural disposition and go from there to build a three-dimensional character. I do a lot of research on what a character would do professionally because I think one’s approach to their profession and trade tells us a lot about their decisions. It helps in making decisions about nominal tasks, whether it’s how to react to a complicated scenario in a relationship with their significant other. I think someone who is less educated, maybe working as a bricklayer, when confronted with a fantastical scenario, would react differently than a highly trained law enforcement officer would. Based on someone’s background and where they’ve achieved in their life, I go from there. I have friends all over the gamut – highly educated, not highly educated, not very smart but wonderful people, smart in their own different way.
Like my father is not academically books smart, but he scored off the charts while he was entering the sheriff’s department reserve training for intuition and an intuitive skill set. He was off the charts because of his lack of hearing. He makes up for that in other ways.
You were recently in Outer Banks. What was that experience like for you being on such a popular Netflix show?
It was so much fun but it was also a challenge. It was surprising because I auditioned for so many roles. The work of an actor is day-to-day, and it’s baffling when you think back on all the work an actor does. Day-to-day, an actor prepares for roles, stays available, trained, and is a professional. One job can make your own destiny in this business. I auditioned for three episodes of the Outer Banks Show, but something I did impressed them, and it turned into eight out of 10. The shoot took approximately six months, and an extra month was needed for post ADR sessions. I couldn’t even do much, but the choices I made helped make my character memorable. Every day is work, learning, building my character, and learning something new. I started selling online since I needed something to sew on, and now I’ve been sewing a lot. Sewing is therapeutic and cathartic, and there’s a lot of cathartic repetition that helps in learning how to be patient, and that is transferable with other activities on-screen when I’m doing that.
When did they increase it from a three-episode arc to eight? At what point did you find that out?
When we were shooting in Barbados first, we just had episode one through three. We did the exteriors in Barbados and the interiors in Charleston. A lot of this stuff is on the fly, and you’ve got to be directable and skilled enough to go with it, regardless of what the emotional load requires on you for that day. We didn’t know till like two days before for the last portion of the show, which direction they were going to take my character.
I thought I was done after episode three. So when I left Charleston, we shot the interiors, and I was bummed. I loved the show, and the crew was fantastic. But it wasn’t until the last five minutes of my last day that I said goodbye and then I was told I was coming back. I had no idea. Before I knew it, I was in Barbados for three weeks, then another three weeks. And so many locals knew me, and it was so cool. I really learned that paradise is where you make it.
I haven’t finished this last season yet. So, I don’t know if it’s a spoiler. But are you coming back next season?
I really can’t say. It’s one of the things I hope for, but I don’t know. And even if I were to spoil it, I may be wrong. But I think that if you haven’t seen it, you should watch up to the last minute.
Episode Two is Ryan-heavy, just the way we like it. It’s been such a blessing. They have so many different lines and angles, and I think that it’s hard work to get there, but it’s worth the journey because it looks beautiful on screen.
Have you found that this role, in particular, has impacted your career where you’re getting different opportunities now?
I’ve auditioned considerably for a range of roles. One thing that I’ve noticed has been a trend is that anyone who wants to hire me or is looking to audition me likes to have me with a gun in my hand. I just look like a guy that needs a gun, whether I’m British, or whether I’m a criminal, or whether I’m a law enforcement officer. But that remains to be seen in terms of where this transpires. I just love to act. I love to perform more than anything. It’s really my calling. It’s what I was put on this earth to do. It’s the one thing that provides me solace in this tumultuous world and tumultuous city of Los Angeles, where everyone’s dream is competing against the other person’s. So, I’ve resigned to allowing this to be my purpose, rather than just being a career. With that said, things are happening and working, and then I have no idea about it, and the universe will take over. I have to have faith. I believe that my work, I like the work that I did. I’m proud of the work that I did. And so we’ll see. But “Dyads” is coming out, which is going to be great. I got Brian brought back on “SWAT” for two more episodes on CBS. So we’ll see.
Is there an ideal role or a specific type of role that you would like to play next?
I would like to play a real person in a biopic, but I also love to play someone with a severe disability. My father is handicapped, and I have always paid attention to his quirks. Living with a disabled parent has many challenges, and it’s not like a “normal” relationship. My father happened to be a worldwide star, but regardless of the fame and success, he has always been left in a world of his own. He doesn’t hear what he sounds like or peripheral noises, so he has to spend a lot of time by himself. I have noticed how lonely and painfully sad that can be at times. It would be an honor to play an adult who has had a restrictive life due to physical limitations, like my father, and who has succeeded in their own way.
Would you ever write your own script to tell this story?
Well, to be honest with you, I already am. It’s based on things in my life, but I’m changing the names, of course. There are so many fascinating instances that I’ve experienced in terms of how to deal with the public when my father’s hard of hearing. It’s another thing when you’re traveling around the world in different airports, and strangers are trying to communicate with him but he just doesn’t hear. I hear everything. So, there are many little bits and instances that I’m starting to fold into this script that I think really capture the other side of being medically unfit. My father is a large, domineering, strong man who has lost such a critical sense of hearing.
Photography Credit: Ben Cope
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Outer Banks season 3 on Netflix: https://www.netflix.com/title/80236318