From his breakout in the 1977 docudrama Pumping Iron to 1982’s Conan the Barbarian and, of course, numerous appearances in The Terminator franchise, there’s no doubt that Arnold Schwarzenegger is a giant of the big screen.
But, according to Hollywood lore, “The Austrian Oak” was apparently denied a big break early on when he lost out on the titular role in The Incredible Hulk TV series. And it might have been because of his height.
[Related: How Strong Was Arnold Schwarzenegger?]
How Schwarzenegger’s Height Cost Him the Role of the Hulk
According to PBS, producers working on the legendary Incredible Hulk series in 1977 were drawn to Schwarzenegger as one of their first choices for the Green Goliath, thanks to his Mr. Olympia-winning physique. But after some meetings, show creator Kenneth Johnson decided that he just wasn’t tall enough to play the larger-than-life comic book superhero.
Instead, the Hulk part went to actor Richard Kiel, best known for playing Jaws in the James Bond movies. Though the 7’ 2” Kiel could certainly fill the screen, he wasn’t muscular enough to pull off the look of a Marvel mainstay. The producers then made a quick U-turn and cast Schwarzenegger’s bodybuilding rival, Lou Ferrigno, as the character. The 6’ 5” Ferrigno played the role for five seasons from 1977-1982, along with a handful of made-for-TV movies. To his credit, Johnson said it was Schwarzenegger himself who suggested Ferrigno for the part.
So, How Tall Is Arnold Schwarzenegger?
You’re in good company if you’re wondering just how tall Schwarzenegger really is. In fact, there’s even an entire website devoted to this controversial subject.
Many sources online place Schwarzenegger at 6’ 2”, with the bodybuilder himself even claiming that as his official height in various interviews through the late ‘90s, according to the Arnold Height website. But the site also points out that he’s settled on 6’ 1” in recent years, saying that he “shrank” as he’s gotten older.
In the end, Ferrigno seems to have been the perfect middle ground between Schwarzenegger and Kiel. Ferrigno had the sheer mass of a bodybuilder that producers wanted while being tall enough to stand out as a monster on screen.
Of course, Schwarzenegger may have missed out on the iconic part of the Hulk, but he did save himself the endless makeup re-touches that took place during 16-hour shoot days. Those would make anybody angry.
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