Lou Ferrigno talks about the reality of his rivalry with Arnold Schwarzenegger and his relationship with his father.


Pumping Iron was an iconic documentary not only for bodybuilding but also for the careers of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno. Over 30 years later, we released Generation Iron as a spiritual successor to that film. While the documentary mostly focused on the new generation of bodybuilders, we had an opportunity to sit down with Ferrigno and reflect on some stories from Pumping Iron. In our latest GI Exclusive Vault interview, Lou Ferrigno shares his Pumping Iron behind the scenes stories. What was real and what was embellished for the film?

In many ways, Pumping Iron was the first step towards mainstream success for Lou Ferrigno. He admits that it eventually led to him not only getting more recognition as a bodybuilder – but also to his starring role as The Incredible Hulk on television. Suddenly, he went from a struggling small town steel worker to a television star. He never looked back.

While documentaries often portray the truth, they are still edited with a narrative in mind. Events may not be fake, per se, but edited in such a way as to evoke a specific feeling. That’s why when we sat down with Lou Ferrigno during the filming of Generation Iron, we asked him to share some stories on what it was really like to be a part of Pumping Iron.

Majority of his interview could not fit into the narrative of our film, which is why we are now unearthing unused footage from our film vault. In this extended clip, Lou Ferrigno discusses his on screen rivalry with Arnold Schwarzenegger, what it was like to film Pumping Iron separate from everyone else in California, and the truth about his relationship with his father.

Most specifically, he admits that his father was never really much of a training parter to him in real life. He describes the reality of that time as a love/hate relationship with his dad. Much of what was shown of Ferrigno training with his father was fabricated for the film. It was to help give a different atmosphere and further promote Ferrigno’s underdog persona in the documentary.

Lou Ferrigno also describes how Pumping Iron was a major reason for him to keep training in bodybuilding. The sport had not been providing him a lot of money at the time and he was prepared to call it quits. When he was presented with being in Pumping Iron, he saw it as one last opportunity to find success in the sport and finally make is way to living and training in California. To him, he saw that as a necessary step to become great.

He wasn’t wrong – as the film is a big part of the reason he eventually landed the role of The Incredible Hulk. The rest after that is history. His name was forever cemented in pop culture and bodybuilding.

You can watch Lou Ferrigno break down his behind the scenes stories from Pumping Iron in our latest GI Exclusive Vault interview segment above. You can also watch the original Generation Iron on digital today. Click here or the banner below to stream or download!

Derek Dufour
Derek Dufour has been managing all digital operations on the Generation Iron Network for over six years. He currently manages a team of editors, writers, and designers to provide up-to-date content across the GI Network.