Big John Studd shows up Saturday as Petit Pierre, a mountain of a man who helps Lt. Danko and his "Dirty Dozen" team of soldier-spies in their weekly effort to annihilate Nazis.

The episode marks another chapter in the fledgling acting career of the 6-foot-9 1/2-inch, 350-pound pro wrestler.

"I play a real nice, sensitive person called Petit Pierre," said Studd. "We take over the circus train -- the circus was going to entertain the Nazis -- and we send the circus people off to Switzerland and kill all the Nazis who were involved."

Actor/wrestler Studd spent a lot of his 20 days in Yugoslavia -- most of them "rainy and cloudy," he said -- heaving ersatz Nazis off a bridge to accommodate various camera angles. "Throwing Germans over the bridge all day long gets kind of tiring after a while," he admitted.

Still, working with "The Dirty Dozen" cast turned out to be "a really good time. They're a nice group of young men ... I really enjoyed being around them.

"Every week you'll see four or five other guys get killed," he explained. "Those are all either special guests or extras that they use. They're pretty new at this and they're doing a great job.

"The first day on the job, we did all my scenes. The Germans were chasing me and my little nephew through old Zagreb ... Then we went out in the country to do this bridge scene ... They had taken all these shots of me throwing the Germans over the bridge from the top of the bridge, and they went down underneath the bridge to set the cameras up. I had to throw these Germans over the bridge again so they could splice the angles.

"And in the middle of setting up the cameras, this old lady comes across the bridge with her horse and wagon piled three feet deep with manure. The horse gets all excited and takes off and the harness breaks. Now right in front of me is this big wagon full of manure. And I laughed and thought, "Where's 'Entertainment Tonight'?" This is how the 'Dirty Dozen' is going ..."

Studd grew up on a farm 12 miles outside Butler, Pa., where he wrestled cattle to the ground for branding. "When I left the farm, I thought I left the manure behind," he laughed.

Growing up as a farm boy, Studd developed his strength, and except for Army duty as a military policeman, "my whole life has been wrestling. That's all I've done. I was always a good wrestler." He began pro wrestling for a regional promoter booking matches in the Midwest in the mid-'70s, but went with the larger National Wrestling Association/Crockett Promotions in the late '70s and now wrestles for World Wrestling Federation/Titansports. The large promoters arranged national television coverage -- syndicated, cable, and occasional network -- "and we became the national big stars, and people just wanted to see us."

Although his grandparents emigrated from Yugoslavia, Studd was making his first visit to that country. "They're not saving all that much money shooting in Yugoslavia, from what I was told. The reason they're taping there is that it's authentic. The actors are all dressed up in the clothes of the period, World War II. But the older people were wearing the same type of clothes that the extras were wearing. People were riding bicycles. Young people are wearing blue jeans, and they do get CNN, so they'll probably catch up. I didn't notice people laughing or smiling that much. But I don't notice a lot of laughter in New York City, either."

What the wrestler did notice was that his fellow actors "are really in good shape. They have a pretty adequate gym in the hotel, and I found 'The Dirty Dozen' training four and five hours three or four times a week. They run five miles a day. Of course, they have no distractions because they don't speak the language."

The part of Petit Pierre was far from Studd's first role, but "I really think this was my best acting job. It might get me a lot more work. John Furia is the producer; Virgil Vogel was the director. I was happy with them and they were happy with me.

"If they show me what to do I can do it. One time they said, 'When you meet the actor (Lt. Danko), you give him a hearty hug and a kiss.' I said, 'I'll give him a hearty handshake and forget the kiss.' There's just too much homosexuality in the business. I don't want to have any of that in my image. That and drugs. I'm not going to do any homosexual scenes. I had this part in a movie and I was supposed to have a homosexual relationship and I said, I'm not going to do it. I can make much more money wrestling."

Studd is reluctant to pinpoint just how much he does make "because that's when you begin to worry about your kids." He does acknowledge an income for wrestling "in the middle six figures."

As it turns out, that figure is only part of the game. burly Big John Studd also lends his name to children's vitamins and he's a Saturday morning cartoon character who appears in coloring and comic books as well. His action figure dolls and Hulk Hogan's were the only ones that sold out, leaving the toy manufacturer with less-requested dolls. With those commercial spin-offs, plus residential and business real estate investments in Northern Virginia and other income diversifications, he has been able to spend nearly two years out of the ring "and we're still not broke."

Studd and family live in a quiet, conventional neighborhood off Braddock Road with a Burke, Va., address. Their house is a two-story colonial with a basement divided between the family rec room and Studd's weight room, which is crammed with heavy-duty body-building equipment, trophies, plaques, autographed pictures and a Hulk Hogan workout chart on one wall. The family refrigerator, like family fridges everywhere, displays notes, pictures and snapshots held by magnets. On top sit jars and packets of vitamins and other concoctions that contribute to Big John's health and physique.

Studd is protective of his two blond youngsters, John, 7, and Jannelle, 5, and of his family's privacy. He prefers not to reveal the family's real name (nor his age, for career reasons). But he said that his wife Donna, who will answer to "Mrs. Studd" if necessary, is a former Canadian Olympic swimmer from Montreal. She runs Conklin Associates, a travel consulting agency located in an Annandale office building that the couple owns.

"Everybody in the area knows I live here," said Studd. "There's a high school down the road. They pretty much accept me as one of the neighbors."

Studd has lived in the Virginia suburbs for a decade and plans to stay there, even if Hollywood calls. "There's a lot of movies made around here, in New York and Virginia and the Carolinas. If they want you to go to L.A., they'll fly you out there. We're going to stay here. Our roots are here. If that means there's no acting career for me, I'll do something else."

During his break from wrestling, he has shown up at local events -- he took second in a recent celebrity harness racing event at Rosecroft -- and has spoken at area schools, advising the students to stay away from drugs. "You might as well call me a non-drinker," he said. "I do not use drugs in any form. Never have. I've never even smoked a cigarette." Pro wrestlers, he said, are now spot-tested for drugs before their matches.

As for steroids, Studd said: "That's pretty much an individual decision. Steroids are not a drug like cocaine. I think professional athletes should have the right to do whatever it takes to get their bodies in shape as long as they're not endangering someone else. The only person in danger using steroids is yourself. When you're taking other drugs or narcotics, you endanger other people besides yourself. If you eat and train and sleep, you don't need steroids. And there's no substitute for hard work."

Meanwhile, occasional acting jobs keep him thinking about life after wrestling. So far, he's been in Blake Edwards' 1984 movie "Micki & Maude" and the 1985 film "Protector," "Double Agent" for ABC's Disney Movie, "The A-Team" and "Hunter" on NBC, CBS' "Beauty and the Beast" and Fox's "The Dirty Dozen."

"There's a chance I might get two or more episodes," he said, "but I couldn't leave the family {to be a regular cast member}. The whole series is going to be filmed in Yugoslavia and our roots are here. Donna can't leave to go there and I can't leave Donna and the kids to go spend six or nine months making a series there." One reason he took a break from wrestling, he said, was that "I had to get back to my family. I was traveling so much it was really driving a wedge in our lives."

In the works are plans for more films and he has "a box this high full of scripts. It's exciting when you see them, but they fall through. Then, sometimes one catches. One thing I've learned about acting is that you don't hold your breath."

Studd won't give up his wrestling career -- yet -- nor does he plan to trim down for acting. "That's what they call me for -- not my good looks," he noted. "But they need big guys, the bigger the better."

One big guy who found a role that might well have been made for him is Andre the Giant, who was featured in "The Princess Bride." ("I thought it was an an excellent movie," said Studd.) At 7-feet-5 and 550 pounds, the Frenchman is a giant not only among ordinary folk but even among heavyweight pro wrestlers.

"Andre the Giant and I are great ticket sellers, because I'm the closest man to his size," said Studd. "But it takes its toll. He weighs 550, I weigh 350 pounds, that's 200 pounds difference. I don't enjoy wrestling Andre the Giant because it's not a pretty match like when you wrestle Hulk Hogan or Macho Man or Paul Orndorf, where you can do hundreds of different moves in one match. Andre's awkward, he's big, he's strong, he's dangerous, and you just go out and survive those matches. They're not pretty but people want to see them. And he hurts you every night."

Studd, who appeared on the early installments of NBC's "Saturday Night's Main Event," hasn't wrestled since Oct. 27, 1986. Planning to re-enter the ring this fall, he works out at least 1 1/2 hours daily, often with a friend in his home weight room, and said he will go to Boston to work out at his pal Killer Kowalski's gym before his first match. When he left, he was down to a svelt 300 pounds. He's now at 350 and plans to add 25 more.

"I never quit wrestling," he explained. "I never said I was going to retire. They {World Wrestling Federation} have money invested in me, and we worked out a good, safe time for me to take a break. It was open-ended but I knew it was going to be at least a year. This was the time to prepare for life after wrestling.

"I really like working on films. It's a lot of work, but I really like it. Right now I'm not an acting star, but I'm still a wrestling star, and I've got to go back and pick up that money that's still waiting for me there. And after I get done with that -- age or injuries are going to stop my wrestling career, probably injuries before age -- then I'll go on and give all my efforts to acting."

Anyway, he said with a smile, "I can turn John Studd on and off."

As fans know, pro wrestling has its own theatrical elements. It's not that the wrestlers follow a script, he said. "The fans have a tendency to think in terms of heroes and villains. But there's no scripts, no rehearsals, nothing like that. The promoters don't say: 'You're wrestling Hulk Hogan and this is what you have to say.' They say: 'You're wrestling Hulk Hogan.' That's it. It's up to me."

Does he know in advance who's going to win? "Yes," he laughed. "The best man always wins. Most of time, unless he has a bad day."

Studd wrestled under different names before he selected his current moniker. "Those personalities are gone," he explained. "I worked a long time to be John Studd. I've been Big John Studd for 10 years -- as a matter of fact, when I met my wife. I developed my skills and my size and I was a genuine main event and I became Big John Studd. I wasn't just some promoter's brainstorm. It's my name. It's all mine. I can cash checks with it.

"When I was a little kid growing up out in the fields, I knew I was going to be a star on television and be a wrestler. If this is all the further I go, I fulfilled my dream. I just had a hunch. I told my dad the last time I was home: 'It's funny. I knew I was going to be here.'"