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FITNESS | GUEST WORKOUT

Still on a Mission: Staying in Shape

January 05, 1998|CANDACE A. WEDLAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

"Good morning, Miss Wedlan. You're looking at Peter Lupus, who lifted 75,480 pounds in 30 minutes on his 65th birthday. June also marked his 50th year of working out. The actor's dossier reveals at least three aliases: Rock Stevens in five films before Bruce Geller, the creator of 'Mission: Impossible,' cast him as Willy Armitage, strongman in the original 1967-73 TV series; he was called 'Loop' on the set. Lupus and his wife, Sharon, live in Los Angeles. Today he is spokesman for Vitamist spray vitamins.

Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to find out how the 6-foot, 4-inch actor stays in shape, all 235 pounds of him."

*

Question: Did you work out throughout the TV run?

Answer: Throughout that seven years. I used to take a protein mix in a thermos--remember the old ones with glass inside? Greg [Morris] was on the set one day and I come around the corner, he's telling guys that Lupus is the toughest guy in the world. I said, "What do you mean?" He said, "I gotta tell you, I took a sip of that drink and it was terrible. I had to spit it out." I said, "I like it." And he said, "That's why you're tough." I went to my trailer, took a sip and I spit it out. The thermos had cracked and the drink soured. It was putrid. But, listen, he thought I was drinking this twice a day for years.

*

Q: Did you ever tell him?

A: No, I never did. Oh, boy, we really did have fun.

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Q: Besides a killer protein drink, what else do you have?

A: I've eaten the same thing--it sounds boring--for 30 years.

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Q: No.

A: Honest to God. I mix up my own cereal--wheat, oat and rice brans and mix it all up together and add psyllium seed ground up--it helps to clean the colon walls. And I put in raw sunflower and pumpkin seeds, a couple tablespoons of super low-carb high-PER (protein efficiency ratio) milk and egg protein, half a cup of nonfat milk, half a cup of orange or apple juice.

*

Q: Peter, that sounds nasty.

A: You know, Greg said the same thing. But I do like it. Sometimes I'll put in banana or pineapple or strawberries. If I'm really feeling wild, I'll use just straight apple or straight orange. That's how I start my day off for as long as I can remember. I keep all my meals pretty simple, even an evening meal. I'll have a piece of meat and I like all my vegetables raw--the corn, green beans and peas just go into a bowl raw.

*

Q: Would you like some strawberry shortcake?

A: No, I don't want any, thanks. That sugar can give me a shock.

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Q: There's no sugar in this strawberry shortcake.

A: Only if you swallow it. But I'm having fun watching.

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Q: Don't you ever indulge?

A: I'll eat nonfat yogurt. That takes care of my cravings sometimes for sweets. I'm a chocoholic so if I'm going to go off, it's something that I really want.

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Q: What would you get?

A: Probably a dip or two of triple chocolate chip ice cream.

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Q: I have to ask you about the "Mission: Impossible" movie. Why wasn't the original cast in it? I missed you guys.

A: You know, we were all in the first three scripts. All the originals were coming in, and it was a great idea. I loved it. And I was delighted that they were going to use Tom Cruise for the lead. And then, all at once, we were all written out.

*

Q: That's a crime. Why?

A: I have no idea. I'm telling you, they got hundreds of thousands of calls and mail from all over the world: "Why weren't the originals in here?" "Why wasn't this more like the series?" I was disappointed because I wanted to get back together with everybody and do it.

*

Q: Absolutely. I was disappointed that they departed from Geller's perfect formula.

A: I gotta tell you, I ran into Jon Voight [Jim Phelps in the film]. I told him I thought he did a fabulous job, and I said, "Why did they change that part to make Peter Graves [Phelps in the series] like a turncoat, because everybody was upset about that."

*

Q: I sure was. I have to ask what you're doing these days to stay in shape.

A: I usually work out--a whole-body workout--three to five days a week. I start out doing 15 to 20 minutes of stretching, 400 to 500 reps on my abs on the incline board plus leg-up crunches and seated crunches. I do different exercises each time--different machines and weights. Chest one day, shoulders and triceps one day, then another day thighs and calves and then back and biceps. When I go into the gym, I probably don't say 10 words to anyone. I go through my routine and do as much as I can in as short amount of time as possible. And I drink over a quart of water during the workout.

*

Q: Did Willy really have to be strong?

A: Well, actually, yes. Bruce Geller wanted to be sure that at least some of the things we had to do could really be done. So, for instance, Eartha Kitt, the singer, I had to carry her hiding inside a section of vent on my shoulder and push her up with my two hands above my head. And she's a compact little gal, solid, not that big, but when you carry her on your shoulder. . . . And another one, you remember Wally Cox?

*

Q: Oh, of course.

A: Wally was about 135-140, and I had these two 50-pound suitcases. I had him in one--there was a mechanism inside so he could escape--and 140 pounds in the other one to balance it out. So I had about 380 pounds between the two and I did 11 or 12 takes on that. Honest to God, at the end of the day my arms were an inch longer. I mean, they came back, but they were like stretched longer. I don't even know whether I'd attempt that today, but I had to make it look easy.

"Should you be caught discussing the movie or the show, your editor will disavow any knowledge of your actions. This tape will self-destruct in five seconds. Good luck, Candace."

Uh-oh.

* Guest Workout runs Mondays in Health.

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