Lou Ferrigno could probably snap you in half but he’s more likely to offer a helping hand.

Most famous for his portrayal of The Hulk in the cult-classic television series of the same name, Ferrigno is a gentle giant in the truest sense of the phrase.

The bodybuilder and actor will be in Toronto this week for Fan Expo and says Canadian fans are no slouches when it comes to pop culture knowledge.

“I just love the fans in Canada and I love coming to Toronto — the fans down there really know who you are. It’s a blast,” Ferrigno said.

Ferrigno also has another special connection to Toronto: in 1976 he played professional football with the Toronto Argonauts for a few games before dropping pro sports and joining the cast of The Hulk.

A huge fan of comic book characters when he was young, especially Spiderman and The Hulk, Ferrigno muses the reason superheroes like The Hulk stay popular is because they grant a sense of empowerment to kids forced to otherwise fend for themselves.

“Comic book heroes are connected with power and kids are fascinated with that power because many of them have no defences. From heroes they can draw in inner power, an inner strength,” Ferrigno said.

Sometime those heroes might even become real — since 2006 Ferrigno has volunteered as a part-time reserve deputy officer with the sheriff’s department in Los Angeles, California. Even without the Hulk makeup, Ferrigno gets attention — and of course his size and stature gets plenty of respect. It’s all a part of much more sensible life-plan than most celebrities tend to muster.

“What drives me? My family, a good life, helping people, changing people and being a good person,” he said.

While Ferrigno enjoys the recognition and exposure fame brings, his favourite run-ins with fans are the ones where they show him photos of how much weight they’ve lost and tell him The Hulk was their inspiration for getting into shape.

Ferrigno himself hasn’t lost the fire for working out and he even has a new reality show in production tentatively titled The Incredible Ferrignos, in which he and his wife help couples and families shape up and get fit. It’s all proof that at the age of 57, Ferrigno still knows how to live up to his Hulk persona.

“I really watch what I eat and I still train with the same passion I’ve had for 50 years. Guys half my age can’t keep up with me — I love it!” Ferrigno said.

As for the burning comic book question: could The Hulk take on X-Men’s Wolverine in combat?

“The Hulk would smash Wolverine — he’d get him in a bear hug and it would be over!”

A smashing time

• Lou Ferrigno will appear at Fan Expo in Toronto Aug. 28 through 30. For more information, visit www.fanexpocanada.com

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