Veteran television actor Sam Ingraffia (“The Incredible Hulk”, “Simon & Simon”, “Barry”) has a lot to say about how TV has changed, how the characters he’s being offered to play are very different to the parts he’d be cast for in the ‘70s and ‘80s, and why we should be tuning into his new series “The Amazing Return of Sal & Junior”.
Meagan Meehan (MM): Sam, years before comic book movies and series were the hottest commodities in town, you were on ‘’The Incredible Hulk’’! Tell us about that experience?
Sam Ingraffia (SI): It was amazing! I played one of the Guest Star bad guys, so I got to shoot guns, have a couple of fight scenes, race around in cars and get chased by the Hulk. How cool is that?
MM: And did you get to meet both Lou Ferrigno and Bill Bixby?
SI: I had several scenes with each of them. Lou, as the Hulk, yanked me out of my car through the window! No stunt double! That’s actually me getting dragged out. Bill was incredibly nice and a really good actor. I asked for an autographed picture for my aunt and he not only did that but alsoautographed a picture for me, which I still have!
MM: Was this a dissimilar character to others you had played at the time?
S.I: The biggest difference was not the character but the tone of the show. I had played bad guys in films and TV before but they were REALLY SCARY bad guys. The Hulk was a little more playful. The violence and the characters were a little larger than life. My character, “Slick” wore a red shirt with a white tie and carried a huge .357 Magnum with pearl handles!
MM: When was this? How many years back?
S.I: I believe it was 1982.
MM: And you’re still doing top prime-time television! Have the parts changed over the years?
S.I: For a lot of years, I played stone cold killers. Now I play doctors and lawyers. Which is good because I don’t have to fall down as much.
MM: Can you tell us about the role you play on “Barry”?
S.I: I play “Thomas Friedman. He’s a bit of a pompous windbag. (Nothing like me in real life.) He makes a nice living writing political books and pontificating on talk shows. I get completely humiliated on national television.
MM: Bill Hader seems like a genuinely nice guy. Tell us what it was like working with him?
S.I: Very easy going, but very professional. It’s incredible how together he is considering he wears so many hats on the show – actor, writer, producer and director.
MM: What do you attribute the success of “Barry” to?
S.I: Great cast. Great writing. Great directing. The show is dark, but still funny and touching. It’s a rarity on TV.
MM: Clearly, as evidenced by the new web series you star in, it’s not all about getting the biggest project, on the biggest network for you. So, what do you look for in a project?
S.I: The YouTube series I’m doing now is The Amazing Return of Sal & Junior. 30 years ago my writing partner Gary Stein and I got a development deal at Universal Studios to write a TV pilot based on two characters we had created – Sal & Junior. Scripts were written. Network deals were made. We came very close to being huge stars, and then everything fell apart. For years people kept asking us what ever happened to Sal & Junior? Now we can tell them.
Please check out the show. Let us know what you think?
MM: What are the differences between doing a web series and doing a standard television series – besides the obvious?
S.I.: For me, the most exciting part of doing an Internet series is you have instant distribution. With films, after the project is finished, it might take years to get distribution. Numerous films I’ve been in never got released. In TV, you write a script and then spend years trying to find somebody who believes in the project enough to make it. With YouTube, you have total control. You shoot, you edit, then you push a button and have access to a worldwide audience.
MM: Can you tell us what else you have coming up, S.I?
S.I.: I just finished acting in a couple of really cool features. One is called “U.Z.L.A.” It’s a very clever horror film that was shot completely on location at U.C.L.A. That was really fun because I started acting while I was an undergrad U.C.L.A., so it was like coming home. The second film is in the sci-fi genre, but with some dark comedic elements. I play a doctor on a spaceship that suddenly reappears after having been lost for years.