The film stars actor Lou Ferrigno, Jr as Detective Ben Hays who is having disturbing dreams that may or may not have something to do with an ongoing murder investigation that he’s involved with.
Lou Ferrigno, Jr. is no stranger to fans of film and television and is carving out his own path in Hollywood. He’s appeared in series such as The Rookie, Stargirl, 9-1-1, Bones and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. You can catch him currently recurring in the hit CBS series S.W.A.T. as Donovan Rocker.
We sat down with Lou to talk about his current film Nightshade, what it was like being a first time producer and he talks about some of his upcoming projects.
Pop Culture Principle – What was it about the script for Nightshade that made you sign on to the project?
Lou Ferrigno, Jr. – The main thing about this project was that I wanted to really approach the duality of the character. First of all, the twists caught me totally by surprise and I didn’t know what was going on or who done it. I wanted to really create that two-sided, two-faced coin of a character.
Lou Ferrigno, Jr. – Landon has been really great as a director and as a friend. Another movie was actually in the works that wasn’t really moving forward, and he approached me with this script. I am the type of actor who asks an abundant number of questions. I come totally prepared in terms of what I am going to do, and I also have backup ideas of what I want to do, but it’s all hinged upon the director’s vision and agreeance with the director. Landon was ready to go with any of my suggestions or any direction that I wanted to take this character.
Pop Culture Principle – Can you think of one similarity and one difference between you personally and your character Detective Ben Hays?
Lou Ferrigno, Jr. – That’s a good question. One difference is that I am a lot more self-aware. I am someone who would catch on pretty quickly. I am not a detective, but I have played a detective many times on television, and I understand the thought process of a detective. I love First 48 and all the murder mystery shows. It’s so fascinating being an actor because for a certain amount of time, you get to become this profession without going through the years of grind that accompany it. One similarity would be that this guy loves his job. He loves being a detective. He loves solving mysteries. He’s a good guy and has a good heart.
Pop Culture Principle – You’ve played a police officer many times in television and film. Do you find yourself thinking like a police officer in your personal life or being totally aware of your surroundings when you are out in public?
Lou Ferrigno, Jr. – Whenever I am out in public, I always used to love people watching, but now people watching is a clinical study and I am using it for research for what I do. So, it’s not so much as people watching causally, but really paying attention to triggers or anything that could potentially turn into something scary. People fascinate me and I love people watching.
Pop Culture Principle – B.J. Britt plays your partner Detective Beckett. Can you talk about what it was like working with him?
Lou Ferrigno, Jr. – I am also a producer on this project, and we had a few actors up for the part on this project. I think literally until the night before we hadn’t cast this character. I saw B.J. on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. when I did an episode of that show and he seemed really cool. I’m telling you man, from the first 30 seconds of me meeting this guy we were friends. We have remained friends since shooting this project. He stays so positive, and he is down to working hard and does great work. He is a brave and courageous actor and as a person, he is just so cool.
Pop Culture Principle – Nightshade also has an outstanding supporting cast including Dina Meyer and Jason Patric. Can you talk about what it was like working with them on set?
Lou Ferrigno, Jr. – Jason was brought on for one night with a call time at around 4am. It was the end of the shoot and an early call time, it was raining, so it wasn’t the ideal place to meet someone, but he was very nice and seemed great. When it comes to Dina, a grew up with a major crush on her and I was not ashamed to admit it! I told her as much when I met her on set. 😊 She was super cool and great to work with. She had eleven pages of dialogue and we shot in a block format which makes everything more economical, but not as easy for the actor. She is such a professional and she is so sweet and cool and just a great soul.
Pop Culture Principle – Not only are you acting in the film, but you are also a producer. Was it easy to juggle both duties while working on the film?
Lou Ferrigno, Jr. – This was my first real project as a producer. All the other producers did a great job in letting me take a back seat in terms of how much I need to be physically engaged. There were some decisions that I got to contribute to that were key and that I was really excited about. I am going to give more that 100 percent to a project, so creatively to have that leeway of feeling more comfortable in my decisions and more emboldened in my choices is a very empowering feeling and I think it turned out to prove itself.
Lou Ferrigno, Jr. – As a lead, the movie rests on your shoulders and it’s tough works. I think there is an added pressure to being listed as number one that is more psychological than anything else. People see the glitz and glamour of the business, but this is the culmination of a lot of angst, a lot of preparation and a lot of hard work. But in terms of the reception, I can only do my best and try to distract myself from the negative comments/thoughts or prognostications that have no merit to them.
It’s a daily struggle to fight those words and to fight those statements that are totally in my head. So, in terms of being the lead, I just have to know that when I give everything that I have and I feel someway afterwards, then it must have made a difference. Life is short man and I want to see some great acting and If I can’t see it when I want it, then I want to be that person that will at least give everything they have to make someone feel something crossing the screen.
Pop Culture Principle – For the viewers who haven’t seen the film yet, what would you say they can look forward to with Nightshade?
Lou Ferrigno, Jr. – They can look forward to a twist that you won’t see coming. Time and time I’ve seen movies that are very close moving up to that twist, but still to this day they fall short in terms of actually catching me, unless it’s a far-off twist. With this film, it’s going to be surprising. This film is the culmination of the work that I’ve put into my life and to what I’ve learned and it’s not a work in progress. It’s actually something that will captivate you as a viewer and I can promise you that.
Pop Culture Principle – You’ve also appeared in multiple episodes of the hit CBS series S.W.A.T. playing the character Rocker. Fans love that character, and do you hope we get to see more of his backstory in the future?
Lou Ferrigno, Jr. – Thank you! I think Rocker is a compelling character and a tough and cool guy who is killing it. When you are working with actors like Shemar Moore, Kenny Johnson, Lina Esco and Jay Harrington, there is only so much story to go around. I am very grateful for S.W.A.T. and everything they’ve done for me so far. We are still going, and we’ll see but as for now, I will hope that Donovan Rocker will be developed more. There are a bunch of great actors on that show, and I will happily sit and watch the story unfold. 😊
Pop Culture Principle – Any upcoming projects you can talk about?
Lou Ferrigno, Jr. – I have a project coming up called Old Flames Never Die on Lifetime. I’ve seen it and it’s good. I look at my work for technical purposes to see what is working and what is not, but this guy is scary. It’s coming out right before Valentine’s Day on Lifetime. Also, sometime in the summer, Resisting Roots will be on Passion Flix. I get to play a love interest and I get to stretch my range. My father was never a romantic lead and I take much pride in this project. I also did a pilot for HBO, but I really can’t say much about it. It’s going to be awesome.
A huge thank you to Lou Ferrigno, Jr. for taking the time to talk with us about Nightshade. The film is available now in select theaters and on VOD!
**Headshot photos courtesy of Storm Santos**