Lundgren Hopes ‘Rocky’ Role Puts Punch Into Career
By Ann Kolson | December 3, 1985
He has only a few lines, things like “You will lose,” “I will break you,” “You’re dead.” And those are barely intelligible grunts.
He has two facial expressions – stony and fierce.
But Swedish actor Dolph Lundgren is counting on his role as the Soviet boxer in Rocky IV to make him a show-business knockout.
Lundgren – all 6 feet, 6 inches and 240 pounds of him – plays Ivan Drago, Rocky’s super-strong opponent in the latest battle in the Rocky wars.
THE SYSTEM IS EVIL
Drago is no simple blockhead. Lundgren is convinced that his Soviet superpower differs from Rocky’s previous opponents, Apollo Creed and Clubber Lang (played by Carl Weathers and Mr. T, respectively). He’s got brains and feelings, not to mention a body.
“This guy,’ says Lundgren, 26, “his heart isn’t evil. The system that uses him is evil.”
Anyway, Lundgren isn’t about to be typecast forever as a “meatball,” which is one reason why he is spending three months traveling the world giving interviews to any and all.
“My character,” he says, “you can’t penetrate him. You can’t say, ‘That’s Dolph Lundgren playing the Russian.’ That’s why I have to go out, to show I’m not really that character.”
SPEAKS FOUR LANGUAGES
A karate black belt and former European and Australian kick-boxing champion, Lundgren abandoned a Fulbright scholarship in chemical engineering at MIT to become an actor (he made a brief debut appearance in May in A View to a Kill). He speaks lour languages. In person, he is soft-spoken and articulate and no dumb palooka.
He knows what he is selling. Right now, action films are popular, and Lundgren wants in on the action. “If you’re physical and have a body, why not use it?” he says. “It’s like anything else: if you have a good left jab, why hit with the right?”
Already, Lundgren – soon to be immortalized in the form of plastic Drago dolls – has been offered roles in other action-adventure films, playing characters ranging from “cartoons to serious contemporary” men.
But, like most everyone else in Hollywood these days, he is writing his own scripts and has formed his own company, Dolphin Productions, to develop projects for himself. One, called Interstate 10, is an on-the-road movie starring Lundgren and his fiancée actress-singer Grace Jones (formerly of Syracuse).
Jones is best known for her height (5-foot-11), her brief animal-skin garments and her snarling, androgynous stage presence, but Lundgren wants to show her off as a “bombshell,” a “Marilyn Monroe.”
She has given Lundgren fashion advice, helping him find his sense of style. For a recent interview, he was wearing a white, wide-wale corduroy suit by Kenzo, a blue shirt and matching blue suede shoes.
“It’s all part of the image,’ he says. “In the old days, the studios did it for the stars. They put their whole power behind the stars. Now, there’s no such thing as the studio system, so you have to do it yourself.”