Lou Ferrigno Jr. is no stranger to action with roles in the TV shows S.W.A.T., 9-1-1, The Rookie, Stargirl and more. Lou has a new film out this week entitled Dreamcatcher which tells the story of Dylan, known to his fans as DJ Dreamcatcher, who is on the brink of global stardom. Everything changes the night of Cataclysm, an underground music festival, where two estranged sisters and their friends meet Dylan. After a drug fueled gruesome event, things begin to spiral into a 48-hour whirlwind of violence and mayhem.
Lou stopped by The Action Elite the other day to chat about the film as well as some of the training he went through for his role on S.W.A.T.
You’ve got a new movie out this week entitled Dreamcatcher where you play the character Colton. What appealed about him to you and drew you to the script?
I’ve been so used to playing heroes and I do love playing the heroes. I can save some people from time to time and I can do it well but it was just a nice change of pace coming off of 9-1-1 playing a firefighter to play a character that just had really dark intentions and is not necessarily complicit in what’s happening, but just will do anything that he’s told for, in my mind, as a character, for the love of Adrienne Wilkinson’s character. So it was just nice to be able to switch it up from being the person who saves the day to the person who will just do anything that is for his own benefit.
And you just know that these kinds of people probably do exist.
Oh, yeah, for sure.
Had you finished filming before Covid started?
Yeah, we finished. I think I shot around February of 2019 and I think it’s been in the can for some time. So distribution takes time but yeah we had finished around the summer of 2019 so we’ve just been waiting. Have you watched the movie?
Yes, I watched it the other night.
What did you think?
I really enjoyed it; the whole Faustian Pact idea was an interest twist to the slasher genre. I really liked that. I love the visual style as well.
Oh that’s awesome.
How did you find working with Director Jacob Johnston?
Jacob is just wonderful. I worked with him on a picture where I was the lead called Nightshade which is coming out soon. He took a role as an art director on that and I was just so impressed with how he was willing to take a less glorious role than the director of this film, considering he worked on Marvel films like Thor. We really got to connect there but as a director, he was just great. I mean, we were playing the whole time. He let us do our thing. My scene where I get killed, there had to be a real good amount of time taken to really build suspense and build the anticipation to see what happens. He let me really get along with that, not rushing anything. He definitely helped the actors as opposed to just being characters that are moving this forward. He really let us play a lot and it was just such a pleasure. Everything. It starts at the top. The set was great. The crew was great. It all starts with having a strong, creative director that knows what he wants. So it was an absolute pleasure.
Your final scene was really quite disturbing. How did you go about putting that together?
Yeah, to be an actor you’ve got to be a little loose. You’ve got to be a little crazy. So when we did this scene, the guy who was going to strangle me was about 50 or 60 pounds lighter than me and he was like three, four inches shorter and the smaller guy. We tried it, we did one take and I had an idea and then we did it the first time. Then I told Jacob straight up (and some directors are very receptive to actors opinions or what they suggest) but I was like “Yo, I’m gonna be honest with you. There’s no way if I’m watching this film that I’m believing that this guy is going to take me down on screen”. I’m a big guy on screen, and so there had to be something else so I suggested about the crowbar. We had to make a crowbar so we did a take with that, but then finally on the last take, I thought to myself, what’s the most harrowing part of being suffocated? The guy was being kind of gentle with the bag and I was like “just go for it”. I wanted to capture that vision I had of when you have a bag over your head and then you suck in and then it’s concave in the mouth and you could see it go in.
I had him hold the bag and I couldn’t breathe for a good 15 seconds. I talked to a few friends about this. It wasn’t until about six months later that I was finally OK with it but it was like that was what happens when people die. You’re struggling for air, you can’t breathe. I had this idea and I knew that if I could find a way to get that bag to fall into my mouth as if I am suffocating, it would have so much more of an impact. I think it hopefully worked out and although it did take a little bit of a toll, it still energized me because that’s what we do. If people are affected by that scene then I did my job.
Oh, absolutely. Do you think it’s one of the most physically demanding moments you’ve shot so far?
Yes. That was physically demanding because I did that, so it was all me. I didn’t have a stunt double. The floor was padded and then actually right after the scene Jacob was the first one who ran in and asked if I was OK. He thought he’d heard the guy actually hit me with the stick and he didn’t. In terms of the physical toll it took, a lot of it was psychological because it wasn’t for weeks after that, I think about how horrible it would be and how close I came. Add another 60 seconds on to that that suffocation thing and that would have probably been it. I had zero air in my bag and I told the guy to do it like I want. Call me crazy, but I was like, I want to fucking sell this so bad because it was my opportunity to really show something and go the extra mile in a different capacity as an actor. If I struggle and if I really felt that I was struggling for air, even when I fell to the floor, I was supposed to be dead, but I had to move my hand up to remove the hand from the bag. I was off camera and I was literally suffocating. If it works out and people are disturbed by it, then it was all worth it.
Job done there. You’ve also done all kinds of different training for roles like in SWAT. Can you tell us a little about that?
Oh, yeah. I mean, we initially went through a bunch of different drills and different positions and different tactics of how things are done. We have Otis Gallop who is a former San Diego SWAT squad leader that’s on set with us every single episode, every day, making sure that we’re tactically correct with what we do. I do like to keep a good amount of muscle mass, just to have that presence but when it comes to crouching low and walking take after take after take it burns your legs if you’re not prepared for it. So a lot more of my training pertaining to SWAT is basically performance specific meaning if I’m if I’m supposed to be running or breaching a room or doing anything, a lot of it is reminding myself to keep my arms a certain way. At the end of the day, part of my brand is to stay muscular and to stay an imposing force, because I feel like that’s what really differentiates me from other actors.
Generally, what do you look for in a script whenever it falls on your desk?
I look for character; if there’s a character that I can really dig deep within and also if the character has any substantial relationships, for instance in Dreamcatcher. The relationship I have with Adrienne Wilkinson’s character is really in my mind when I’m writing my character’s back story. This guy has been in love with this woman for the last ten years which is as long as they’ve been working together. His dream would be to one day ask her and she would say “yes, you’re the one I want”. So it allowed me to really kind of fall in love, essentially with a woman that in my mind I would do anything for, and that’s what leads Colton to do all these shady things for this diabolical woman.
I like to really stretch my emotional life and to really get lost within the character because it just adds so much more in terms of conveying the character’s thoughts and the character’s background. What goes behind the actions of this character, like what’s driving this guy Colton to do these crazy cover ups and these shady business ventures? Because, if you’ve ever been in love, you’ll do some crazy shit. So that’s really what motivates me.
Do you have a particular genre you like to look for or do you just like to try everything?
I’m a big guy on screen and I’m athletic, and that lends itself to be more action related. I like the fact that action can travel well overseas. My intention is to really be a global actor and a global star because I would love to just be an actor you can rely on to deliver a wonderful performance. But at the same time, I’ve studied comedy for a very long time. I’ve done a lot of improv, so to have that presence and that kind of stature, as I do with the ability to be funny and to deliver a joke, is great. I think action comedies are just so wonderful and they’re funny and they’re engaging, and they travel well. But I’d also love to focus on something, maybe science fiction. Something with in with those three tied in with some romance, I’d be good to go.
A role in Star Wars would be awesome.
That’d be great. Darth Vader without a mask. That’s what I’m talking about, right?
Yeah! And what would you like audiences to take away from Dreamcatcher?
I would love audiences to take away and get the feeling that when you walk into a film such as any of these Marvel movies or you walk into a Scorsese film or a Quentin Tarantino film, you know you’re going to get a good film. But with other films, nowadays and recently, it’s been hard to find a film that I really, really liked that did not boast a huge budget, did not have a cast full of A-list stars. I keep seeing the same actors, big name actors who are great but nonetheless, sometimes feel they’re overdone and in every other movie. You always hear how many actors there are and how many out of the business that are not on that A list yet. The fact that this film would be such a surprise and to be talked about and for audiences to be pleasantly surprised and thrilled to have been really affected by this film. That’s really the point of it, is to really affect the audience.
You’ve also got Blackout coming up as well as a few other projects. Can you talk a little bit about them?
Yeah, Blackout was a wonderful opportunity, directed by my buddy Sam Macaroni. He wrote and directed Guest House, which is trending on Netflix with Pauly Shore. It’s in the vein of Jason Bourne starring Josh Duhamel. I got to work with Nick Nolte who plays a retired DEA agent. My character wakes up in a Mexican hospital, doesn’t know where he is, and then all of a sudden he’s in this fiasco trying to find this prized possession.
I play a similar role to Colton, but to Nolte’s character in that film which is super exciting. My breakout lead performance in Nightshade should be coming out soon hopefully; we don’t know when, as distribution is still in talks. It’s another suspense thriller and more of a psychological thriller. I play a detective who has these visions of murders and then ends up working on murders that he’s seen in his dreams. I’ve seen a few films that were on the same track and had the same vibe but when I read that script and the twist that happens that allows this film to happen, it was so out of left field for Nightshade that I just HAD to do it. I have seen the film. I’ve seen the rough cut and it worked. It’s something I’ve never seen. I think it’s really, really, really cool.
I was reading the synopsis last night and I thought it sounded interesting. Looking forward to seeing them.
Yeah. I’ve been working for the last 10 years and doing a lot of guest stars here and there and training all the time. So it’s just a matter of time before someone gives me the shot. I was a producer on that too in lieu of my regular paycheck; I took a risk and I bet on myself and I couldn’t be happier, without a doubt. So I just can’t wait for that to be finalized and the world can see it.
DREAMCATCHER is available On Demand and Digital March 5th