Moviegoers flocking to see Marvel Studios’ latest comic-book blockbuster may spot a familiar face: “Incredible Hulk” star Lou Ferrigno.
Ferrigno, who has a home in Arroyo Grande, has a cameo in “Thor: Ragnarok,” opening Friday in theaters everywhere.
An actor, bodybuilder and motivational speaker who famously faced off against Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1977 documentary “Pumping Iron,” Ferrigno has appeared in movies such as “I Love You, Man” and television shows including “The King of Queens” and “The Celebrity Apprentice.” But he’s best known as the green, musclebound title star of TV’s “The Incredible Hulk.”
“I could make 10 ‘Gone with the Wind’ movies. I could play Rhett Butler, and everybody would still know me as the Hulk,” Ferrigno, 65, joked. “It’s still the most iconic character in the world.”
Ferrigno said “The Incredible Hulk,” which ran for five seasons from 1977 to 1982, was a pop culture pioneer.
“When I began ‘The Incredible Hulk,’ I laid the groundwork” for scores of movies and television shows based on comic books, he said. “‘The Incredible Hulk’ was so successful that now all these A-list actors are appearing in Avengers movies.”
In addition to reprising his role as the Hulk in an animated series, a few TV movies and two big-screen blockbusters, 2003’s “Hulk” and 2008’s “The Incredible Hulk,” Ferrigno has voiced the character in “Avengers” movies. (Mark Ruffalo plays the Hulk on screen in the “Avengers” franchise.)
Although he didn’t record anything new for “Thor: Ragnarok” — “They have a library of (clips of) my voice,” he explained — Ferrigno confirmed that viewers will hear his distinctive roar in the movie.
However, he won’t divulge the nature of his cameo. “I can’t really talk about it until (the movie) comes out,” he said.
Ferrigno attended the world premiere of “Thor: Ragnarok” at the El Capitan Theatre in Los Angeles on Oct. 10, but don’t expect him to see him in the theater on opening weekend.
He’ll be too busy overseeing last-minute details for this year’s Ferrigno Legacy Expo, a bodybuilding, health and fitness exposition taking place Nov. 18 and 19 at the Palm Springs Convention Center.
“Thor: Ragnarok” isn’t Ferrigno’s only recent acting credit. He plays a gangster in martial arts movie “Enter the Fire” and stars as ill-fated king Deadard in big-screen “Game of Thrones” parody “Purge of Thrones.” (Both movies are now in post-production.)
Ferrigno and his family have called San Luis Obispo County home since 1988.
The star now divides his time between Arroyo Grande and Santa Monica, visiting the Central Coast almost every week. In 2012, he became a reserve deputy with the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office; Ferrigno also works with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department as a reserve deputy.
“I love coming to SLO. I love going to Paso (Robles), and seeing my friends,” Ferrigno said, describing the South County countryside as “the best in the world.” “I love the country.”
Sarah Linn: 805-781-7907, @shelikestowatch