TV fans know Lou Ferrigno Jr. from his recurring role as Donovan Rocker on the CBS hit series SWAT, where he’s appeared in more than two dozen episodes. But 2021 is poised to be a massive year for Lou, who’s got multiple projects in the works. He connected with me recently to give an update on where he’s headed and look back on what he’s been able to accomplish so far.
Brittany Frederick: You have a few film and TV projects in the works, so what do we have to look forward to from you?
Lou Ferrigno Jr.: The second season of Stargirl is coming out this summer, where I’ll be portraying Hourman, the DC [Comics] superhero. SWAT season 4 is in full swing at the moment.
As of now, we’ve yet to have release dates on [the films] Blackout and Nightshade. I did Blackout with Nick Nolte and Josh Duhamel. But also, Dreamcatcher is available now to steam, I believe, worldwide.
BF: With SWAT specifically, the show’s aired about 80 episodes and you’re credited for more than two dozen of them. What has it been like for you to live with Rocker for that long a period of time?
LFJ: Rocker’s, honestly, not too far off [from me]. My father is a reserve deputy sheriff. My grandfather was a lieutenant in the NYPD. I think Rocker’s definitely a little more vanilla than I am, but in terms of his stoicism, sense of humor, and sarcasm, it aligned very well with my own personality.
What’s frustrating is not getting enough of the leeway to let the character shine, you know? Yelling, kicking in doors, screaming at bad guys, that’s all good and fun, but in terms of character development, I would love to really sink my teeth into it. So far, it’s been growing, so we’ll see where it goes.
BF: We know he leads his own team, so in the episodes that you don’t appear, do you ever theorize what he’s been up to off-screen?
LFJ: Rocker’s the type of guy to play jokes or to give people crap on the job. I’m like, “Where was Rocker on this one?” And if he’s the team leader, wouldn’t he be moseying around like…What does this guy eat for lunch? What is his taste palette? Why does this guy come in and say certain things at certain times, and then disappears? I always think about those things.
BF: You’re well experienced in the procedural genre, whether it’s SWAT or the NCIS franchise. Are you able to carry anything from one of those shows to utilize in another, or are they completely separate roles?
LFJ: Every system is so different, every show is so different. I think this goes along with being good at portraying a character and knowing the character’s arc. I played a hockey player on Bones, and I really had to sell that I wasn’t the killer, but—spoiler alert—I was the killer. Then I’m thinking, “Well, is he trying to …” I want to throw them off the case, but I have to give enough hints that it could be me, because I can’t totally know.
There are some things that make it a little bit easier from time to time, whether you’re the red herring or the victim. I’ve played dead as well, in NCIS, and it’s not as easy as it sounds. But every job, in and of itself, takes some type of learning lessons that I definitely carry from job to job.
BF: Do you have favorite roles that you’d recommend to people who want to see more of what you’ve done?
LFJ: It’s odd. I do this job where I pretend to be someone else, but it’s hard for me to watch my own work. The stuff that I have coming out with Nightshade and everything, I’m going to be very proud of that work. I’ve seen the raw cuts, but the film has yet to be finalized.
I don’t know if people just don’t have faith in me as an actor, or perhaps as a person. I don’t know, but they don’t give me much meat to chew on. So, we shall see. NCIS: Los Angeles was one of my most memorable characters I’ve portrayed. I played a character that was very different than myself. He was a fool lost in love, really not very smart, not very bright, but you ended up really liking the guy. I would say [the] NCIS: LA [episode] “From Havana with Love.” Highly recommended.
BF: How would you describe yourself outside of acting? What do you love?
LFJ: I love comic books. I love anything comic-related, supernatural stuff. I also paint; I incorporate a lot of either superhero-type and animals. I love animals. I love all those nature shows, such as Planet Earth. I just think it’s so fascinating how this world of animals just goes about their life, and they could give a crap less about what’s on TV and whatever else is happening. They don’t care what the big point is, and they just do their thing. And then before you know it, you’re eaten by something that’s bigger, who has a different agenda.
It’s so fascinating to me that we get caught up in all this stuff as humans when, in essence, these beautiful creatures are devised by nature to be viewed and look a certain way. Then, all of a sudden, they have to survive. It’s just wild to me. It brings me back down to reality. It’s nice.
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