Arnold Schwarzenegger's Size Somehow Stopped Him From Playing The Incredible Hulk

Before Mark Ruffalo was playing the Incredible Hulk on the silver screen, the Jolly Green Giant was the star of his own TV show, which originally aired from 1977 to 1982. Unlike in subsequent Hulk movies, Dr. Banner (renamed David from Bruce) and his alter ego were played by two separate actors: Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno. Since this was before the days of CGI transformations, it made sense to cast an everyman actor as Banner and a body builder as the Hulk.

Ferrigno's time as the Hulk has cast a shadow on his life since. He's reprised the role in a purely vocal capacity several times, from the 1996 "Incredible Hulk" to many MCU films. His time in green was also the root of many jokes when he appeared as himself in the sitcom "King of Queens."

However, Ferrigno wasn't the only bodybuilder considered to play the Hulk. One in particular was passed over because he was "too short." Who was this mouse of a man? Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Too short to play the Hulk?

Schwarzenegger first came to fame as a bodybuilder in the 1970s. The documentary "Pumping Iron," about his training for the 1975 Mr. Universe and Mr. Olympia competitions, released the same year as "The Incredible Hulk." Schwarzenegger had a meager acting portfolio at the time — he'd been the lead only in 1970 B-movie "Hercules in New York." According to PBS' "Pioneers of Television" series, however, the series' producers had a different concern: his height.

The Hulk didn't just need to be strong, he needed to be giant. Arnold had the muscles, but apparently at 6'2", he just wasn't lumbering enough. The producers next choice was Richard Kiel, aka two-times James Bond nemesis Jaws. At a truly giant 7'5", Kiel was too tall. The producers then found their happy medium with the 6'5" Ferrigno, who had also made a name for himself with "Pumping Iron."

Ferrigno had reasons to play the Hulk beyond a career boost. He was bullied during his childhood for wearing hearing aids and found solace in the comic book adventures of the Hulk and Spider-Man. According to Ferrigno, his desire to be like these heroes is why he took up bodybuilding: "I was obsessed with power. I wanted to be strong enough so that I could be able to defend myself."

Things worked out for in the long run for Schwarzenegger too. In just a few years, he would rocket to even greater fame than Ferrigno thanks to "Conan the Barbarian" and "The Terminator." Had he been contracted to a TV show like "The Incredible Hulk," his schedule might not have been clear enough to star in those movies. No doubt it was frustrating in the moment, but Arnold should be thankful the "Incredible Hulk" producers found his stature lacking.